Human beings have an exceptionally strong survival instinct, they say. We are able to make do with strange and unusual foods when it comes to survival. But here is our list of 10 foods that are the worst that can be consumed, and yet are “delicacies” to the local folks.
Escamoles is a traditional favorite in Mexico, eaten since the days of the Aztecs. It tastes buttery with hints of nuts and has the texture of cottage cheese. If you know what’s in it though, you may not want to eat Escamoles. The dish is made up of larvae and pupae of black Liometopum ants. The ants themselves may be poisonous but Escamoles are considered quite a delicacy. They are extracted from the anthills in the roots of Agave or Maguey plants. Escamoles are mostly used to make tacos and are certainly some of the weirdest foods known to mankind.
9. Baby Mice Wine
Wine may be one of the most popular drinks anywhere across the globe but if you are in Korea and think of sampling some of the local favorites, think again. The Baby Mice Wine of Korea is a mice-infused wine, believed to possess a number of medicinal qualities. This is a form of rice wine that is stored in containers with mice that are less than 3 days old and aged for over 12 months. If wine making is an exact process, making this wine is exacting. Any changes or mistakes could poison the wine. Poisoned or not, we’re not sure it will have many takers outside Korea.
How do you like your egg? Each of your friends may have a different answer but if your friend is Filipino you may get an unusual answer – Fertilized. Balut is 18-day-old fertilized duck egg and has often been referred to as the world’s most disgusting food. The shell of the egg is cracked open by an expert, the warm sap is then slurped, and the bird fetus is then eaten. Lastly, the yolk is scooped up with a spoon, the bones crunched and the shell discarded. Balut is certainly an acquired taste and only enjoyed by those who are introduced to it early in life.
Lamb meat is a delicacy that is a global favorite. But Pacha or Kash is quintessentially Middle Eastern. If you are getting ready for a luscious delicacy, think again. Pacha is braised sheep’s head, stomach, and hooves cooked whole. Pacha is considered the ultimate meat delicacy in these parts and is often served as celebratory food. The head, stomach and hooves of the sheep are slightly mashed in and often most of the parts are quite discernable causing a loss of appetite unless you’re used to it.
Did your parents teach you not to drink from the bottle labeled “Lye”? Here’s a dish that will question their wisdom. Lutefisk is a Scandinavian traditional dish made from fish and lye. Dried cod is left to soak in lye for days. When the caustic protein breaks down into a jelly like consistency, the cod is washed in cold water for days. Now it is cooked – boiled or baked – and served with seasoning and butter. The only question that now remains to be answered is “Are you brave enough to try it out?”
Raw food may not always be the healthiest, especially if the ‘food’ is still alive when you chomp it down. Most Koreans, however, do not indulge in such thoughts. Sannakji is a national passion; small pieces of octopi are cut while they’re alive, seasoned and served. Sometimes a baby octopus may be served whole. This may not be the best of dishes to eat when one is sober and when you’re tipsy it may be positively fatal. The tentacles’ suction cups tend to stick to the mouth and the throat as they are eaten and unless they are chewed down well, death is a very real possibility.
4. Monkey Brains
Of all the things eaten fresh in this country, this dish is perhaps one of the most controversial. Monkey brains! Yes, you read it right the first time. While popular urban legends suggest that they are spooned out of a live monkey, not quite dead yet, most agree that monkey brains are simply cooked and served as any ordinary dish may be. The outcry by animal rights activists that this dish has attracted is phenomenal too. There is also the chance that the person consuming this “delicacy” may contract the dreaded Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or the mad cow disease.
3. Casu Marzu
“What are your views on eating maggots?” Certainly, this does not make for socially acceptable conversation. The Casu Marzu – a maggot infested cheese from Sardinia in Italy – is considered to be quite a delicacy. The Casu Marzu is a sheep milk pecorino cheese that is left exposed to cheese flies at an early stage. These flies lay eggs which hatch and ferment the cheese. Though banned by the European Union, this cheese is still manufactured in Sardinia. It is a different matter that consumption of the maggots may cause severe gastrointestinal cramps and diarrhea.
When in Rome, eat as Romans do – did you make this your gastronomic mantra? When in Iceland, think again. Hákarl is a national passion. Only that most food enthusiasts from the rest of the world easily classify it into the “worst tasting/foulest food on earth”. Hákarl is cured and rotten shark meat – its smell is enough to put people off seafood for the rest of their lives, they say. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is believed to have vomited after tasting the dish. Icelanders themselves are torn between love and hate for this dish.
Cockroaches? Creepy, disgusting little creatures, right? Many in China may disagree. They call it food. In all fairness, it is not the household cockroaches that are eaten. Edible cockroaches are farmed and harvested as any other food is. They are boiled, roasted, fried, or braised and eaten. Eating cockroaches is believed to be very healthy and nutritious (high protein food), say many. Then again many claim that the high urea and nitrogen content makes it dangerous if consumed in high quantities. Are you willing to try?
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