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20 Unusual Foods (Including Bugs) Eaten Around The World

For many people, the thought of sinking their teeth into a crispy tarantula, or snacking on a cracker infused with digger wasps, doesn’t exactly sound like an appetizing meal, but in different parts of the world, these foods are considered to be delicacies.

The cuisines around the world are varied, and what some may turn their nose up at, others find delicious, which is not surprising because it’s all a matter of perspective as different cultures have different customs and taste preferences.

While some foods, like the eating of protein-rich insects, developed out of a necessity for a more nutrient-filled diet, others, like fermented cheeses with live insect larvae, and century old eggs (not really, but that’s what they’re called) have been developed because they are supposedly delicious. Actually, some of the foods that you may find to be gross actually fetch a hefty price tag, and are sometimes used to honor guests or celebrate special occasions (like rat meat for the Adi tribe).

Below are 20 unusual dishes that can be found in different places around the world, and despite these dishes being strange and fascinating to outsiders, they are perfectly normal in their native land. That said, some are not for the faint of heart.

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20 Crispy Tarantulas Are Considered A Delicious Delicacy In Cambodia

In Cambodia, it is perfectly normal to snack down on tarantulas, which according to CNN, is not eaten out of necessity but is rather a delicacy. The cost of a tarantula can vary, but some cost up to $1 (which the publication notes is a high sum when the average wage is just $6), and they are apparently the perfect snack with rice wine or beer.

As for what they taste like? The writer claims that they taste like crab, that’s if you can get past the fact that you have a giant spider hanging from your mouth.

19 Silkworm Pupa Doesn't Appeal To Some Western Tastes, Apparently

Silkworm larvae come from the domestic silkmoth, the primary creator of silk. When the larvae turn into caterpillars they spin a cocoon of silk fibers and become a pupa, but before they ever reach maturity, some of them are eaten in South Korea.

According to the Huffington Post, you can buy them in tins, and the writer of the article recalled his experience of trying a silkworm pupa. He explained that it tasted like “crunchy feet,” and that a liquid squirted out when he bit into it. His evaluation made it sound as though this is one meal he won’t be trying again. Then again, it’s all a matter of perspective.

18 Airag Is Fermented Horse Milk, A Traditional Drink In Mongolia

Cows milk, and even goat’s milk, is a common drink in the western world, but horse’s milk is not something you will typically find in the store. And even more unusual is that the airag beverage, the traditional national beverage of Mongolia, is actually fermented, Mongolfood reports.

The publication claims that the fermentation process (which also removes the lactose from the milk) is caused by a combination of lactic acid and yeast. The milk needs to be stirred regularly over the course of one or two days while it stands to ensure equal fermentation.

17 Tuna Eyeballs Can Be Bought In Supermarkets In Japan

 

Via Food And Wine

For many people, when they eat tuna, the eyes are often not included, however, tuna eyes are eaten in Japan, and you have to admire the no-waste policy. According to Atlas Obscura, you can purchase the tuna eye from the grocery store or fish market, but it can also be found in after-work pubs, and are used as bar snacks.

When cooked, the inside of the tuna eyeballs become soft, although they reportedly don’t have much taste, and are reportedly likened to mussels or hard-boiled eggs.

16 Balut Is A Fertilized Duck Egg And Is Not For The Faint Hearted

Via Tyrant Farms

Eating eggs is very common for most people and they provide an excellent source of protein, but most of the eggs consumed are not fertilized. However, the Balut, eaten in the Philippines, is, and according to Fine Dining Lovers, this egg of a duck has been allowed to grow to an embryo (not a yolk).

It is then boiled and according to the publication, the end result is meant to be boney and feathery -- which sounds and looks quite off-putting for those not used to it.

15 Haggis Is A Surprisingly Delicious Crumbly Sausage

Scotland’s national dish is haggis, and what it is, is a combination of sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver which has been made into a sort of crumbly sausage with the addition of oatmeal, seasoning, onions, and suet. Visit Scotland notes that haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach, however, in more modern times it is usually a synthetic casing that is used, and the taste is “scrumptious.”

According to BBC Good Food, haggis is commonly served with mashed potato and mashed turnip and accompanied by a glass of whiskey.

14 China's Birds Nest Soup Is Actually An Expensive Delicacy

When you think of a nest you may think of bits of twig put together, but that is not the type of nest that is used to create birds nest soup. Instead, the Chinese use the edible solidified saliva from the swiftlets nest, and this delicacy can be found on the menu of some high-end restaurants.

The Daily Meal notes that birds nest soup does not come cheap, and one of the most expensive nests sold for $10,000 a kilogram. And if you are eating it in a restaurant then you can expect to pay between $40 to $100 per bowl of soup.

13 Hakarl Is The Fermented Shark Meal Native To Iceland

If you ever find yourself in Iceland, you may see hundreds of pieces of Hakarl hanging out to dry. What this food is, is a species of sleeper shark which has been fermented in a special process which includes burying the meat, and hanging it out to dry for around five months, Guide To Iceland reports.

The publication reveals that nowadays, it’s mostly the older generation who eat this dish, and it’s not as common as it was before. However, it is the national dish of Iceland, Culture Trip reports.

12 Mopane Worms Are A Protein-Rich Meal Eaten In Southern Africa

Although it may seem unusual to snack on worms, they are actually a great source of protein, and the Mopane worm (which is actually not a worm but the caterpillar form of the Emperor moth) and a popular food source in Southern Africa.

According to Atlas Obscura, the worm can be fried, smoked, pickled or dried, and contains three times as much protein as the same amount of beef. Because of this, it’s a popular food which helps add nutrition into many diets.

11 China Has A 100 Year Old Egg On The Menu

Eating a meal consisting of a 100 year egg hardly sounds appealing, but the egg is not really a century old. It is, however, fermented, which is done by burying the duck, chicken or quail egg in clay, ash, or quicklime for several months. This causes the egg to transform into a brown, gelatinous creation, Fine Dining Lovers reports. In addition to the unusual appearance, the egg is also meant to smell really bad because of the hydrogen sulfide and ammonia build up.

10 Stinkheads Are Eaten In Alaska By The Yupik People

Via Culinary Schools

Eating something that’s lovingly referred to as “stinkheads” doesn’t exactly make the mouth water, but this dish of fermented fish heads is eaten in Alaska, and according to The Telegraph, it is the traditional dish of the Yupik people.

The publication reports that the heads are chopped off the fish and then buried in the ground and left to ferment. And according to Oddity Central, the fish used in this process is commonly king salmon, and it takes weeks before they are ready to eat.

9 Escamoles Are The Perfect Addition To Tacos

While eating stinkheads doesn’t sound overly delicious, escamoles seem much more appealing. But this is yet another unusual food and one that is native to central Mexico.

Escamoles are the larvae and pupae of ants of the Liometopum apiculatum species. According to Eat Your World, the escamoles were once a delicacy for the Aztecs, but can now be found in tacos, tortillas, omelettes, or eaten alone. As for the taste? Apparently, they are not bad, and when cooked they reportedly have a slightly nutty taste.

8 The Wasps In Wasp Crackers Are Harvested By Elderly Villages

If you’re in need of a bit of a protein boost, then a wasp filled cracker may be just what you’re looking for. These crackers are made using digger wasps, and according to Mental Floss, the Japanese snack was invented by a rice cracker manufacturer.

The wasps are all caught in the wild and harvested by elderly wasp hunters. The publication claims that once the wasps are captured, they are boiled, dried, and then mixed into the cracker mix. While these crackers are sold to the general public, supplies are reportedly limited.

7 Fried Brain Sandwiches Is A Once-Popular Midwestern Meal

The USA is also home to some unusual cuisines, and among them is fried brain sandwiches, which as the title of the dish would suggest, is a breaded and fried calf brain, served on a bun or toasted bread. Atlas Obscura claims that very few restaurants still serve this meal (the Mad Cow Disease in 1986 largely created a switch to pork brains), but it’s believed to have gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The brains from the East St. Louis, Illinois meatpacking industry were bought to St. Louis, Missouri, by cooks, who had the idea that this would make a delicious, and cheap, sandwich filling.

6 Lutefisk Is A Sort Of Jelly-Like Fish Dish Served During Christmas Time In Norway

Lutefisk is a traditional dish in some Scandinavian countries, most notably Norway, and it is usually eaten over the Christmas season. It’s almost like a jelly with fish flavor, and according to What’s Cooking America, this dish dates back to the Vikings.

What it is, is a dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution to rehydrate it. Once the fish has been rehydrated the lye is washed off, and it is baked, boiled, and served with butter.

5 Commerical Frogs Harvesting For Frog Legs Is Now Banned In France

Frogs legs are one of the strange but well-known meals in France, and according to an article by The Guardian, the French eat 4,000 tonnes of frogs legs in a year (or at least they did at the time of publication of that article).

But despite frog legs being consumed in France, the publication notes that commercial frog harvesting is banned and most of the legs that are consumed are imported. Actually, frog legs are a dish that is a lot more popular in Asia and South America.

4 Rat Meat Is Used To Honor Guests In A Small Village In India

Via Independent.ie

Rats are considered vermin, but according to BBC, in some of the poorer areas of Thailand rat meat is eaten, and it has been for years. However, things seem to be changing and this food is now reportedly becoming a bit of a delicacy, costing more than chicken or pork.

But Thailand is not the only country that eats rats, and BBC notes that in the Adi tribe, who live in a remote village in the hills of north-east India, consider rat to be the “most delicious and best meat.” Actually, rats are even given to honor guests, or celebrate a special time.

3 Casu Marzu Is A Fermented Cheese With Live Maggots

You may think that eating cheese made from sheep’s milk is not that unusual at all, but the Italian casu marzu cheese is reported to contain live maggots. According to Cheese, this particular product is native to the Sardinia region and is soft-ripened cheese with a natural rind. But it also contains maggots, which are produced by the cheese fly larvae used in the fermentation process.

The publication notes that the cheese is part of the Sardinian food heritage, and in this region, it is consumed at special events like weddings.

2 Steak Tartare Is Not Something You Want To Try And Recreate At Home

Steak tartare may not sound as unusual to some because it’s not deep fried insects or fermented cheese, but what it is, is high-quality beef steaks, cut or minced, and served raw. According to D'artagnan, the dish is accompanied by several ingredients, including capers, onions, and parsley, and topped with a raw egg yolk.

A word of warning for those who do like this dish and want to create it: don’t. According to Buzzfeed, the dish is very hard to make and often people end up using pre-ground beef which is wrong.

1 Sago Grubs Are Very Popular In South East Asia

Sago grubs are the larvae of the Rhynchophorus Ferrugineus beetle, and are, according to Unique Thailand, considered to be a delicacy in many Southeast Asia countries. Versions of this dish vary depending on the country -- in New Guinea, for example, the grubs are roasted on a spit and served on special occasions -- but the publication notes that the taste is likened to bacon when cooked. The larvae have a creamy taste when raw, and are often prepared with sago flour.

References: CNN, Huffington Post, Mongol Food, Atlas Obscura, Fine Dining BBC Good Food, The Daily Meal, Guide To Iceland, The Culture Trip

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