Yet, some could ask themselves the same question, seeing us – Westerners – licking our fingers over pork belly or sirloin steak. For some delightful delicacies, for others outrageous feed or even disrespecting a religion, it all comes down to how we were raised and what we are used to.
The cool climate can obviously affect the taste of people: FISH STOMACHS and the whole boiled SHEEP`S HEAD are mouth-watering meals in ICELAND, but they are nothing compared to HAKARL. According to an old tradition, sharks get buried underground after getting a decent urine “shower” by the locals (that is supposed to help the fermentation), and then it is left getting rotten for a few months. Apparently, it smells and tastes like very strong cheese.
While the Icelanders like to nibble on fermented sharks the ESKIMOS are well-known for eating whales and seals. MUKTUK is a lovely name for a dish, but who knows if the taste is the same: made out of frozen whale skin & blubber, all finely blended and frozen so it can be diced and eaten raw or fermented – a great source of vitamin C. And if you feel like having a dessert after this nutritious main course try AKUTAQ. The Eskimo kids` favourite consists of whipped rain deer fat, berries and fish all blended together into a smooth and frosty ice cream.
On the other side of the globe, the Pacific Islands have their own customs, too. HAWAII is proud of its wild boar organ, blood and intestine KALUA & OFFAL dishes.
In SAMOA the locals find sea cucumber intestines, raw tuna eyeballs and its still beating heart a special treat.
NEW ZEALAND promotes the awkward VEGEMITE as the ultimate energy booster and their underground cooked HANGI, using volcanic hot stones.
In the AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK, apart from their favourites like crocodile, emu or kangaroo steak, the indigenous people prefer to snack on the juicy WITCHETTY GRUB – large white fat larvae and the poisonous CANE TOADS.
But all these are really just “tiny variations” to what we are used to eating: in the deep jungles of PAPUA NEW GUINEA there is human flesh eaten instead.
If you assumed that there were no weird eating habits in the most distinguished continent on the globe, you would be then quite wrong. In fact, the most shocking European dishes have their origin in the two most sophisticated countries – Italy and France.
ITALY is undoubtedly a heaven on earth when it comes down to food, but hang on, would you fancy a spoonful of rotten maggot cheese? CASU MARZU is the iconic Sardinian cheese. Actually, the concept of producing Casu Marzu is highly refined – a whole Pecorino cheese gets infused with larvae of the cheese fly and promotes an advanced level of fermentation and breaking down of the dairy fat. The larvae make the cheese incredibly smooth and creamy. Buon Appetito!
FRANCE does not stand behind and some of the most favourite delicacies are definitely SNAILS, FROG LEGS, PIGEON & FAT LIVER – but that is all we knew. Still, would you be keen to try?
In SCANDINAVIA, there its is typical to serve a whole boiled sheep head, eyes, ears and tongue included, on the Christmas table. SCOTLAND is also home to quite an extraordinary dish – HAGGIS. It is a sort of pudding made of sheep`s heart, liver and lungs, minced with some spices and herbs and traditionally encased in the animal stomach. In fact, many foreigners said that it was absolutely divine.
Remember, to drink it down with some SQUIRREL BEER – the most expensive and undoubtedly the strangest beer on earth is served inside of a dead squirrel. Scots surely know how to do things thrilling!
MIDDLE EAST, INDIA AND RUSSIA
Although the Middle East often shocks the world with its radical cultural habits, surprisingly, their cuisine is probably the most decent of all! Perhaps the BEDOUIN RAW CAMEL and Persian KHASH can be the least appealing for many foreigners: boiled sheep feet, head and stomach cooked with vinegar and garlic and served with vodka. This dish is more often consumed in the northern part of Middle East, where the weather is harsh and alcohol essential part of life.
The Indian BRAIN CURRY and Pakistani CURRIED GOAT TESTICLES can be somehow overlooked too, (not so sure about the JAL, though– locally popular cow urine drink).
On the contrary, the Russians love to eat odd food – FISH EGGS, FRIED PORK RIND and ASPIC (assorted meat leftovers, eggs and vegetables are set into gelatine, served with onions and vinegar) are on the everyday menu. Have you ever heard of ROASTED BROWN BEAR? Well, that is Russian speciality as well.
In Africa, anything that moves can be eaten – quite literally. No wonder, there is poverty everywhere and no time for fuss. Africa is a continent of colours and it adequately it offers a fairly colourful culinary journey.
ETHIOPIANS would commonly cook GOAT ORGAN STEW for breakfast and fried OX INTESTINES could be snacked any time as well as CAMEL KIDNEY. Well, what is strange about those if we can pay hundreds of dollars for the BLACK IVORY COFFEE made out of the elephant poo?
You might find the MADAGASCAR`s GIRAFFE BEETLES not that appetising but they are rich in nutrition.
In KENYA & TANZANIA, COWS BLOOD is drained directly from the animal`s throat vein using a special wooden tool. The red liquid is drunk straight away as fresh as can be.
Similarly, the SOUTH AFRICAN traditional kitchen is defined by plenty of interesting meals: STING BUGS, CRISPY CATERPILLARS, TERMITE SCRAMBLE, OSTRICH EGGS, RACOON TAILS and the infamous MOPANE WORMS, of course. This ZIMBABWE`S favourite snack is to be found anywhere, in the local kitchens, restaurants and street stalls and it can be eaten fried, stewed or grilled.
Nevertheless, the most revolting eating custom is likely to be found in CONGO – feasting on the ‘BUSHMEAT’, which is actually illegal and ruthless killing of protected species and selling them on markets – apes, reptiles, porcupines and even leopards!
SOUTH EAST ASIA
Approaching the Asian continent things are only getting worse. Particularly, South-East Asia is worldwide (in)famous for the weirdest, most bizarre and often most revolting culinary “gusto”: insects, worms, bugs, caterpillars, beetles, spiders, rats, bats and so forth.
Every visitor of THAILAND will be more than welcome to try some of the popular street take-away, e.g. FRIED CRICKETS, SCORPION, OR A WASP LARVAE SKEWERS. Well, at least all these are easy to recognise when choosing what to eat in one of the street stalls teeming with all sorts of feeds. What could possibly cause troubles is grabbing some of the street stews – consisting of who knows what, perhaps not even the sellers would tell you!
While CAMBODIANS love to snack on the whole deep fried TARANTULAS throughout day and nibble at SILKWORMS, in LAOS the locals will try to show you off their favourite specialities; the question is only if you dare to bite into a DRIED or GRILLED RAT handily served on a stick or a MOTH STEW & STINKBUG SKEWER.
INDONESIAN cuisine is extremely diverse and regardless of the nation`s great liking for the world`s stinkiest fruit – DURIAN (at some cities prohibited to carry in public transport for its unbearable smell), one of the least appetising dishes might well be a GRILLED BAT or DRAGONFLY SOUP. It all sounds really horrible, but again, if we can take pleasure in the ‘civet dropping’ KOPI LUWAK, considered to be some of the world`s finest coffee beans, why not trying any other local speciality?
THE PHILIPPINES do not want to be left behind and these fabulous islands` iconic “sensation” is BALUT – a developing duck embryo is boiled when still inside of the egg and eaten straight off the shell. It is supposed to boost male`s stamina and make miracles, hence every man should definitely overcome their barriers and smash it!
Vietnam is the closest relative to China and both countries share many eating habits. Especially, in Northern Vietnam, the traditional recipes would include all types of living creatures, and you can even “KILL YOUR OWN DINNER” and get it cooked right in front of your eyes: kittens, puppies, porcupines, snakes and other favourites. Anyhow, it seems like an everyday life here, so if you really want something extraordinary you should try the COBRA HEART served while still beating or BULL PENIS – these reputedly give you heaps of energy and boost your libido! To become a real stallion get it amplified with some SNAKE VODKA.
Nevertheless, the absolute winner at the most unimaginable food ideas will always be China. the country is generally considered to have the most shocking and revolting food, including TURTLE SOUP, CICADA STEW, CAMEL PAW, DRIED LIZARD SNACKS, PIG STOMACHS, SNAKE PENIS, VOLCANO RABBIT HEAD, DONKEY RIB, DOG`S HEAD, BAT PASTE, and so much more.
MONKEY BRAIN or BIRD`S NEST SOUP have both become a cliché even in our society and what before used to be a taboo, today we all are aware of due to mass media. Yet, it does not mean it is acceptable. Already the bird’s nest soup concept is not very welcoming even if helping our skin to get beautiful, but eating a monkey brain while the monkey is still alive is just messed up! No being deserved to die in such a barbaric way, just imagine: a hole in the middle of a table, a monkey pulled to that hole, tightly held with hoops over its hands and legs and its head right in the hole. Then its skull is hammered to knock hard enough to make a hole in its skull – a perfect access to the freshest brains! And the still warm flesh is spooned by the diners sitting around the table. Note that all this is happening while the monkey is alive and screaming terribly under the table. We are quite open-minded travellers, but sorry, this is not what we regard as a “let`s give it a try”.
So, whether you taste the snake penis or dog`s head, you might need something strong to drink down. Feel free to ask for a BABY MICE WINE or SNAKE VODKA to accompany your dinner. 😉
TAIWAN is kind of a “sibling” of China and it also features many unusual dishes: CHICKEN UTERUS & TESTICLES, COCKSCOMB, STINKY TOFU or DEEP FRIED BEES will welcome the visitors on the street markets in the countryside.
Even though Japanese kitchen is broadly regarded as the world`s most exquisite they also have their peculiarities. For instance, RAW GOAT TESTICLES WITH SCROTUM or TUNA EYEBALLS are perhaps the strangest delicacies of all. If you do not like them raw like most of the native people would you can still get them smoked, but make sure you keep them looking like they are still alive!
Top it up with an OCTOPUS or VIPER ICE CREAM and rinse it all down with TURTLE BLOOD SAKE – yum! If you are still hungry though feel free to add the popular WASP CRACKERS. Other favourites are FUGU (made of the lethally poisonous pufferfish), SHIOKARA (fermented stewed mix of seafood swimming in a viscous fishy sauce) & SHIRAKO (fish sperm), and if you have been to Japan before you know what are these dishes about.
If you are a male you might also know that they are best to be eaten with HABUSHU – snake sake! The ladies will appreciate the famous PIG PLACENTA JELLY DRINK – it is magically supposed to make you more beautiful.
KOREAN SANNAKJI is surely not much less bizarre: raw octopus is eaten while the animal`s tentacles are still moving even after being chopped (in fact the half-alive octopus caused a number of deaths in the past as it got stuck in a person`s throat). Meals like CAT & DOG STEW and BOILED WORM PUPAE do, naturally, not surprise anymore.
Worldwide famous for the mouth-watering nachos, tacos, tortillas and guacamoles, Mexican restaurants are packed in every corner of our globe. But is their food really all about these? Well, not just quite..
While the Westerners believe that the native people only eat corn, bread and avocados, Mexicans are happily feasting on ESCAMOLES (larvae and pupae of ants cooked in butter), CHAPULINES (crispy grasshoppers) and MOSQUITO EGGS. Certainly, the regional cuisine uses plenty of corn but many times a sort of corn not everyone would fancy – QUESADILLAS WITH CORN FUNGUS, also called HUITLACOCHE.
If you travel to GUATEMALA, try the popular BULL EYES – raw of course. People of THE CARIBBEAN love their PIG & CHICKEN FEET as well as the glorious IGUANA CURRY – does not that sound irresistible?
It seems like every country eats whatever they got gifted by Mother Nature; BOLIVIA uses LLAMA TONGUE & BRAIN to make the reputedly best stew in the continent and LAMB KIDNEY & BULL PENIS SOUP sounds great too.
In the AMAZON, the indigenous people eat all the rainforest has to offer: worms, butterflies, snakes and bushmeat – literally anything that is bumped into (armadillo, possums, rodent, iguanas and anacondas).
However, the absolute winner in South America originally comes from PERU, is eaten almost everywhere and apparently it is absolutely stupendous! CUY – whole grilled guinea pig.
If someone mentions the “North American food” you would probably think of McDonald’s, KFC, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Coca-Cola. In fact, these could easily be the most shocking and disgusting foods on earth if you knew what they contain and how the ingredients were made (or slaughtered). Yet, we all eat kind of accepted the reality and continue killing ourselves with these “goodies”.
Paradoxically, when we hear someone saying that they tasted STINKHEADS, JELLIED MOOSE NOSE, RAIN DEER PATTY or a SEAL SOUP, we get upset. In ALASKA these dishes are amongst the favourites, and no one cares what the others think.
At the end of the day, who has the right to decide what is good or bad and find the perfect global recipe for all humans on our planet..?
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