It’s time to take a trip around the world and delve into all the weird foods our species like to chow down. Unfortunately, the world isn’t only full of those tasty breakfasts we spoilt you with a while back – if only. Consider this a public service and an education to save you from shock when you come across these, the 20 weirdest foods from around the world.
1. Tuna Eyeballs – Japan
Although it sounds nasty, apparently it’s rather tame, tasting pretty similar to squid or octopus. None of the gunk you’d normally associate with slicing up eyeballs then?
2. Surstromming – Sweden
Baltic Sea herring fermented with just enough salt used to prevent it from rotting. Mainly found tinned in brine these days, when opened it releases such a pungent aroma that it usually needs to be eaten outside. Sounds delightful.
3. Jing Leed (Grasshoppers) – Thailand
So, yes, this is a big old grasshopper seasoned with salt, pepper power and chilli and fried in a big wok. Tastes a little like hollow popcorn skin… except a little juice squirts out when you bite into it… nice.
4.Wasp Crackers – Japan
Yep, you guessed it, it’s a biscuit filled with wasps. Think chocolate chip cookies, only the insects replace the choccy chips. Apparently the digger wasp, which the biscuit contains, has a pretty mean sting. I wish your tongue good luck.
5.Century Egg / 100 Year Old Egg / 1000 Year Old Egg – China
Yeah, OK, it’s neither a century nor a millennium old, but this egg is pretty rotten. After being preserved in a mixture of clay, ash and quicklime for a few months, the yolk turns a dark green or even black and slimy while the white has turns to a dark brown translucent jelly. Apparently it smells of strongly of sulphur and ammonia, but tastes like a hardboiled egg… until you breathe out that is.
6.Fried Spider – Cambodia
Fried spider is a regional delicacy popular in the Cambodian town of Skuon, prepared by marinating it in MSG, sugar and salt and then frying it in garlic. Apparently it has more meat on it than a grasshopper, but also has brown sludge in the abdomen, which consists of mainly innards, eggs and excrement. Yum.
7.Southern Fried Rattlesnake – United States
A favourite in the Southwestern United States, it’s said to taste a little like frogs legs. Experts advise boiling the meat off the bones before dipping in egg and covering in seasoned salt mix, flour and breadcrumbs. Deep fat fry and munch away.
8.Guinea Pig – South America
A strange one, because again I see this as kind of wrong. Yet I know over here we use guinea pigs in all sorts of medical tests and experiments, which is far worse. Typically served whole and roasted or in a casserole, guinea pig is said to have a similar flavour to rabbit.
9.Balut – Philippines
A developing duck embryo that’s boiled alive in its shell. As well as sounding incredibly harsh, it looks incredibly unappetising. Still, it’s a common street food and is usually served with beers. Can’t say I have the stomach for it.
10.Cobra Heart – Vietnam
So, they slit the struggling poor creature open right in front of you and place its still beating heart into a shot glass of its own blood. You sink it while it still pumps away… enticed?
11.Casu Marzu – Italy
Also known as ‘maggot cheese’, this traditional Sardinian dish is sheep’s milk cheese famous for containing live insect larvae. Apparently these wiggling little maggots are supposed to enhance the flavour, but are prone to jump when they panic, so watch your eyes. Some people suffocate them or kill the beasties in the fridge before consuming, but others go for the live version. Sometimes they survive the stomach and burrow into your intestines. Nice.
12.Dog – Korea and Vietnam
Yeah, so call me a bleeding heart westerner and a hypocrite, but this always breaks my heart. As someone who had a dog growing up, who was part of the family and treated as a little four legged sister, it’s tough to see dog carcasses roasted beyond recognition or locked in those tight little cages, waiting for the slaughter. But then I eat all the animals we deem fit for farming over here, so this one is going to turn into a long argument. While not widely consumed in Korea these days, dog meat is big money in Vietnam, leading to a massive increase in the stealing of family pets.
13.Kangaroo – Australia
Historically the staple meat for indigenous Australians, kangaroo is high in protein and low in fat, making it a pretty healthy choice. It’s gamey in flavour and served in multiple ways, from a simple steak to sausages or burgers. Although some animal groups are against the hunting and harvesting of kangaroos for meat, many ecologists see farming native animals as much better for the fragile Australian rangelands than cattle and say it could massively reduce greenhouse emissions.
14.Marmite (or Vegemite) – UK, New Zealand & Australia
Made from yeast extract, a by-product of brewing beer, Marmite (or Vegemite as it’s known as in Australia) is essentially the slurry from the bottom of the barrel that most breweries just throw away. It’s a sticky brown paste with a concentrated, salty flavour that’s usually spread on toast or eaten with cheese. People are either ‘love it or hate it’… I hate it.
15.Stink Bugs – Africa
Used to flavour stews or eaten on their own, stinkbugs are said to have a crunch to them and taste a little like apple. Prepared by boiling, the bugs release defensive pheromones in a last ditch attempt to survive, and while it hurts the eyes it’s no more successful than the onion’s weak survival attempt.
16.Sea Urchin –Japan, Chile, United States
If you’ve ever seen a sea urchin, the first thing to come to mind probably wouldn’t be “hey, let’s eat it!”. Well, as it is, once upon a time someone came up with exactly that feeling, and now we can find it as a street snack in Japan and in a Chilean sandwich. If you happen to be in California, especially the San Francisco and Northern California areas, you can find a range of restaurants serving sea urchin in a variety of dishes.
17.Beondegi -South Korea
Made of silkworm pupae, beondegi is a common and popular snack sold by street vendors all around South Korea. It’s typically served steamed or boiled, and occasionally they’ll be served as a side dish in a fish restaurant. Some liken its taste similar to nuts as they can be quite crunchy.
18.Chicken Feet -Asia
Chicken feet is a dish that can be found in several different regions of Asia, cooked in diverse ways depending on where you’re eating it. In China, for example, it’s served as a bar snack, in a soup or even as a main dish. In Korea, it’s typically made as spicy as it can get, popular to be eaten together with some strong alcohol. I had some tasty ones at Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, known as one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in
This is a rather popular French dish, made of frog legs that are often prepared with butter, garlic and parsley sauce. First you’ll have to dip them into flour, of course! You’ll likely end up liking this dish quite a lot, so don’t shy away from trying it.
20.Sago Delight – Southeast Asia
Edible sago grubs are said to be creamy tasting when raw or meaty and like bacon when cooked. Generally seasoned and flavoured in the same way as the other Southeast Asian creepy crawly favourite, Jing Leed and served alongside. My friend gaged when she ate one and said it was pregnant – a braver being than me.
Be honest: how many of these seriously weirded you out and how many of them seem surprisingly similar to what can be found in your home cuisine? What is the weirdest food you have tried out to date? Of these weird food items on the list, which one are you most likely to try out next and which ones will never make it onto your bucket list? If you already have some experience trying these strange foods out, I’d love to hear about them!