Respecting other cultures means accepting that they are not always going to eat things you enjoy. This stands to reason, given that what is palatable is a matter of perspective, and widely open to interpretation. On the other hand, there are some dishes that make the world collectively raise an eyebrow, and question what exactly it is that has been put onto a dish and is now being passed off as something that should be placed in your mouth.
These are some of the foods that are widely seen as the most bizarre, and likewise the most vomit inducing. Do keep in mind, however, that in some niche groups in some countries these ‘delicacies’ are seen as a tasty meal.
The translation of Shirako is ‘white children,’ and that phrase should already get you asking a few questions. But it turns out that the name is disturbingly accurate. Shirako refers to sperm sacks extracted from puffer fish, anglerfish, or cod, slapped into a bowl and served with a bit of garnish. Even in Japan where the dish is served, there are few that will indulge, and for very obvious reasons. Don’t swear off it too quickly though, because apparently the taste is rather sweet and much like custard. Or did that description put you off even more?
If Shirako had your stomach turning, than prepare for an all-new level of revulsion that may just have you running for the nearest toilet. A truly gag inducing meal, balut is a duck egg that has been fertilised and allowed to form mostly into an embryo. The egg is then boiled. After cooking, a hole is tapped into the shell, the liquids drank and the crunchy innards enjoyed with salt and vinegar. Yum. The crunchy is due to bones, in case you were wondering. Double yum right?
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Ant Egg Soup
After the last two dishes, this probably doesn’t come off quite as disgusting, and could perhaps be taken as a grateful alternative if one had a gun to their head. Available in Laos, ant egg soup is exactly what it sounds like. A soup made from ant eggs, with a sprinkling of baby ants for added flavour. Hey, after duck embryo, this is a little slice of decency as far as we’re concerned.
Saving the best for last, we have casu marzu. This is a cheese that has literally been allowed to go so rotten that it has managed to grow a crop of healthy maggots. While most normal humans would toss the cheese out, in Italy it is served on crackers and called a delicacy.
Chances are that this so-called delicacy came about because someone was sad to see their cheese had become a maggot breeding ground, and thought what the heck, they’d eat it anyway. Better yet, they thought it would be a great idea to convince others that cheese tastes better with maggots, and were oddly successful. Now doesn’t that just make your mouth water!