Across the globe you can find delicacies that are so bizarre, it's surprising that people eat these foods on a regular basis. If you thought eating escargot in France was odd, or chowing down on an insect in China was gross, you haven't seen anything yet. After reading up on these delicacies from around the world, we won't blame you if you end up feeling a bit uneasy or end up losing your appetite.
Eating insects is nothing new in Asian countries like China and South Korea, and bugs are actually quite good for you, providing the protein and vitamins your body needs. While you might not get too disgusted with the thought of chowing down on an insect, you might get a little faint thinking about eating kangaroo, which is surprisingly served in Australia, or a little-terrified learning that in Japan, people risk their lives to eat a type of fish that has the capabilities to kill with just one bite.
Many of these delicacies have a long history to them and the people of these nations have kept these recipes and dishes around to this day. What we may see as absurd and distasteful is actually the opposite for locals of the nations we've listed below.
Here are 25 delicacies from around the world that the U.S. can't wrap their heads around. Be warned, reading about some of these dishes may make you squeamish.
Eating insects are nothing new, but people in the United States are terribly grossed out about putting one of these small bugs in their mouth. Believe it or not, insects are actually highly nutritious and a healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamins, fiber and mineral content, according to nature.com. In fact, some two billion people across the world consume insects and they are smart to do so. Obviously, not all insects are edible and Tree Hugger reports that brightly colored insects indicate a warning and you'll want to stay away, and insects that have a strong odor, bite or sting are probably a no, too. Served in Indonesia and China, you can find dragonflies that are usually boiled or fried and are said to taste like soft shell crab.
Wangfujang Night Market in China is known for its strange "delicacies," serving up foods like seahorse, scorpion, and starfish. One blogger from Food Fun Travel attempted to try a starfish and compared the inside texture of something between toothpaste and ground beef. The fried starfish has to first be broken apart before you can eat what's inside, which is something along the lines of "a strange brown fish substance." According to Chinese Street Food, if you have ever eaten river crabs in China, you'll find that the starfish taste just like the brain area of the crab.
Australians are very reluctant to eat their national animal, but a number of chefs in the country are urging Australians to try it out for themselves. According to Australian butcher Dean Cooper, who only sells meat from kangaroos, it is very healthy meat that is low in saturated fats, full of iron, are free range and organic. According to an article from the BBC, a kangaroo's meat proponents are low in fat because the animals produce less methane than other farmed animals and they are more environmentally friendly. However, we don't blame Australians for wanting to pass up the opportunity on trying their native animal for dinner.
Eating moose is actually common in the northern-most regions of Alaska and Canada and its eaten in most forms, including steaks, sausages and even used for pizza toppings. However, one of the most outlandish moose dishes is jellied moose nose. In the past, indigenous people would eat every part of the moose and its long nose is still considered a delicacy today among indigenous people. Jellied moose is comparable to European headcheese, with trapping cuts of moose nose within a gelatinized broth. Once the fur has been removed, the snout is boiled and chefs slice the nose and simmer it with onions, garlic, and other spices. Once the concoction is cooled down, the pieces of meat are laid in a loaf pan doused with broth and placed in the fridge. The meat is then served as a loaf of bread and eaten in slices.
Haggis is served in Scotland and its unappealing look may make people from other parts of the world a little squeamish. This Scottish meal consists of sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep's liver, lungs and heart, onions, oatmeal, and various spices. According to BBC Good Food, Haggis is like a "crumbly sausage, with a coarse oaty texture and a warming peppery flavor. It's most commonly served with neeps (mashed turnip) and tatties (mashed potato)." Haggis is also versatile and can be used to make stuffing or fried up for breakfast like crumbled black pudding. But if you aren't a fan of sheep, you can make your haggis using combinations of pork, beef or venison.
Akutaq, or simply known as Eskimo Ice Cream, isn't the same creamy ice cream we are all familiar with. Akutaq has been a delicacy that Alaskan Natives have actually been eating for thousands of years and was used as a traveling food when hunters would go hunting. According to What's Cooking America, Eskimo Ice Cream is a concoction made from reindeer fat or tallow, seal oil, freshly fallen snow or water, fresh berries, and sometimes groundfish. Air is whipped in by hand so that it cools and turns into a foam. The people of the Arctic are actually very welcoming and love to serve their dish to newcomers in Alaska. When people want to try their foods, they feel pride in sharing their culture with others.
Cherry Blossom Meat is served in Japan during cherry blossom season and it's actually horse meat. The horse meat is called "Sakura (cherry blossom) niku (meat)" because its color is a lot redder than other meat due to its high hemoglobin levels. According to Medium, horse meat has less fat and calories, and more vitamins and minerals. Commonly, horse meat is cut into bite-sized pieces and is usually grilled. In the city of Kumamoto, fresh horse meat is eaten raw with soy sauce and is supposedly not gamey at all.
Armenian's seem to know the cure for a restless hangover - a gelatinous and hearty bowl of soup boiled with cow hooves. According to Atlas Obscura, the soup is traditionally served during the winter as comfort food. The dish is made with boiled-down cow hooves and commonly served in the morning alongside vodka, with a variety of items to add to the bowl such as garlic, vinegar, cinnamon, and radishes. Before the cow hooves are boiled, the animal's feet are cleaned out and kept under cold running water for 10 hours before they are boiled. It is supposed to be a hearty soup that should also fix that hangover.
Shiokara is served in Japan and is a traditional dish of seafood fermented in their own viscera, which means its fermented squid guts, and is salted and seasoned. This squid is plentiful in Japan, but Shiokara can also be made from tuna, crab, salmon, and sweetfish. According to Zojirushi, "Each type is a mix of salt, viscera found in the main body cavity such as the liver or intestines, and more fleshy tissues. Depending on the cook's preferences, shichimi pepper, wasabi, mirin, or grated yuzu peel is also added to the mixture for zest and flavor. However, this traditional dish is just salt and seafood.
Believe it or not, you can try fried rattlesnake right here in the U.S.A. So how exactly does a snake taste like? According to The New York Times, "rattlesnake tastes, when breaded and fried, like a sinewy, half-starved tilapia." It's supposedly called "desert whitefish" in the Southwest and is said to be "bland and difficult to eat" and is full of bones and tough. Modern Hunters states that eating a rattlesnake is like eating a bony fish. The texture of the meat is tough and stringy and it is difficult to extract the meat from the bones. You can find a fried rattlesnake in the south, like in restaurants in Texas and Arizona.
At a restaurant called Bar Don Chon in downtown Mexico City, Mexico, you can find exotic Mexican dishes like mosquito eggs. This dish makes may make you feel queasy, but it's said to have a long history in the nation. "When the Spaniards began arriving in Mexico in the 16th century, they were amazed not only by the architecture but also by the local diets of the Aztec, Tolmec and Mayan people. They were astonished as well as somewhat repulsed by their taste for ants, locusts, tadpoles, and crayfish. The traditions of the native people of Mexico have survived to this day," reports Dawn. Mosquito eggs are one of these delicacies from Michoacán, with a small jar costing up to 50 U.S. dollars.
Salmiakki is not a treat for everyone, but the Finnish and people of other Nordic countries especially love these treats. Salmiakki is basically salty licorice is something of an acquired taste. The small black gummy is flavored with ammonium chloride and has a very strong salty flavor. If that wasn't enough, the candy also comes in a powder, which you can dump in your mouth or dip your finger in. It's highly advised not to snort the powder because it'll burn your nostrils. However, if that also isn't enough Salmiakki for you, you can also purchase Super Salmiakki, which unlike the regular version, it has a eucalyptus or menthol nuance in its flavor.
With Iceland being pretty much isolated in the North Atlantic, the country has its very own unique dishes with one of them being Hakarl, which is fermented shark meat. According to World Atlas, the first thing to know about this dish is that it has an extremely foul smell. To prepare the shark for eating, poisons are eliminated from the shark by placing it in a shallow hole in the sand and placing it with stones so that liquids can seep out of it. After this, the fermented shark is cut into long pieces and hung up to dry for several months. Hakarl prepares to believe the shark is ready to eat by its putrid smell and by a dry crust that forms on the shark. The crust is removed and the shark is then cut into slices to enjoy. This dish has been a tradition to the Icelandic people since the Vikings settled in the islands years ago.
While these eggs aren't really 100 years old, their appearance and the thought of people eating this discolored egg would make anyone who isn't familiar with it very uneasy. Apparently eating a preserved egg like the one shown above dates back more than 500 years. To make the egg, a vat is filled with a combination of strong black tea, lime, salt, and freshly burned wood ashes, and is left to cool overnight. The next day, duck, quail or chicken eggs are added to the mixture and are left to soak for seven to five months! These eggs have become very popular and can be found in many groceries stores and restaurants in China. According to BBC, the first challenge is getting beyond the egg's rotten look and its pungent ammonia-like odor. Once you can get through that, the egg is reportedly very creamy, velvety and succulent.
You've probably seen the popular French dish called escargot in many menus across the U.S. now, but people in the states still have a hard time imaging eating a cooked snail. Snails as food are not uncommon in countries in Europe and the meal are considered a delicacy. Snails are low in fat, high in water and proteins and have been consumed since prehistoric times. In France, snails are common and referred with the French word "escargot." When they are cooked, snails are prepared with garlic and parsley butter, added for seasoning and served in their shell. Eating snails are also very common in Greece and Italy, where they are consumed in a variety of meals.
Marmite and Vegemite are both spreads made from brewer's yeast that is used in place of butter or jam on toast or for sandwiches. Marmite is a British staple while Vegemite is found in Australia, and both have been up for debate for the best tasting. Marmite is a rich, dark brown, yeasty spread and has a dense, salty flavor. Vegemite is also a thick, black yeast extract spread, but contains added flavors like vegetables and spices. Unfortunately, many people aren't fans of either spread and they are difficult to find in the U.S. unless you find yourself in a British food shop. The thought of eating brewer's yeast may sound unappealing to many people, but according to healthline.com, brewer's yeast can actually provide energy and help maintain healthy skin, hair and eyes.
If you're into shows about food and travel, you might have heard about Fugu, a Japanese dish prepared from a puffer fish or blowfish. The blowfish is an extremely dangerous fish because it contains a poison called tetrodotoxin in its intestines, ovaries, and liver, which is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide. Eating a puffer fish without proper care can kill you and the toxin is so potent that a lethal dose is smaller than the head of a pin, and a single fish has enough poison to kill 30 people. Chefs in Japan must go through rigorous training of up to two to three years to obtain a license to serve this killer fish. However, this hasn't stopped the Japanese, with about 40 kinds of Fugu caught regularly, and people consuming 10,000 tons of this fish a year, according to Time.
A legend states that the French began eating frog legs in the 12th century when monks who were forced in a no-meat diet managed to have frogs classified as fish. The delicacy soon became popular in eastern France, especially in the Vosges department, reports thelocal.com. Today, you can find fish legs in many U.S. restaurants and they supposedly have a flavor that's a little fishier than chicken. According to Men's Health, fish legs are actually pretty good for you. Fish legs are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and vitamin A and they can be cooked in a variety of ways, with the healthiest being steamed or stewed.
Turtle soup is a Chinese delicacy with the meat, skin, and innards of the turtle used in the soup. The soft-shelled turtle was commonly used for turtle soups and stews in Singapore, while in the United States; the snapping turtle was usually used, and can still be found in Philadelphia cuisine and in the south. Turtle soup was actually a favorite dish for former U.S. President William Howard Taft, who would bring a special chef into the White House for the purpose of making turtle soup. Turtle soup is actually illegal in many places in the U.S. because the species is listed as endangered or threatened. However, there is an alternative to this dish without actual turtle meat and simply called mock turtle soup.
Casu Marzu is Sardinian for "rotting cheese" and is the product of larvae-driven fermentation, which means once you slice this aged cheese and peel back the top, you'll find a mass of wriggling maggots. According to Gastro Obscura, cheese makers cut a small hole in the wheel of sheep's milk cheese and leave it outside for flies to slip through and lay eggs. After the larvae hatch, their excretions break down the cheese's fats and proteins, making the cheese creamy. If you are ever tempted to try this cheese, be advised that these maggots can jump a few inches and you don't want them getting into contact with your eyes or your insides. An alternative is to mash them to death and then smear the cheese on bread.
Stinkbugs have become a huge nuisance in the United States, but for some parts of Africa, they are a delicacy. ScienceNews states that in parts of rural Zimbabwe and South Africa, the stinkbug is simply shaken out of trees, covered in salt and eaten as a spicy delicacy. Once the defensive stink glands are removed from the critter, the insect has a high-protein punch, according to a study. Freeze-dried up stinkbugs reportedly have lots of protein and nine essential amino acids. The insect also has cholesterol-lowering fatty acids and several antioxidants that come from a plant that insects eat.
Durian has earned the name as the smelliest fruit in the world and if you have ever traveled to Southeast Asia, you may have even tried it. Durian is covered in spikes and is known for its strong, rank smell that permeates the outer shell and lingers long after the fruit has been removed from its shell. Despite its strong odor, the fruit is rich in iron, vitamin C, and potassium and can even lower blood pressure. It's been hard to describe the smell and taste of the fruit for years, In 1856, British explorer Alfred Russel Wallace describe the fruit as, "A rich custard highly flavored with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavor that call to mind, cream cheese, onion-sauce, sherry wine, and other incongruous dishes."
In 2011, popular chef Gordon Ramsay was filmed for his show swallowing the beating heart of a cobra after it was slit open at his table in a Vietnamese restaurant. In Vietnam, eating snake is apparently associated with virility and many men decide to chug down the cobra's heart. Before swallowing the heart, Ramsay was warned that the snake's heart is often felt moving inside the stomach because it can continue to beat for several minutes after the snake has died, according to an article from The Telegraph. The rest of the snake wasn't just thrown away either, the snake was served, along with a glass of bile, curried guts, chapped skin, and fried bone.
In many markets in South Korea, you can find Beondegi, steamed silkworm pupae, which is served as a snack. These insects are popular in South Korea and are typically boiled or steamed, and they are savory and acidic, with a bit of a fishy, nutty flavor, describes Atlas Obscura. The outer shell of the bug is crunchy, while the inside is soft and juicy. It is also common for street vendors to add spices or salt on the bugs and there is also a candied version with sugar. Eating silkworm pupae became popular during the Korean War and was a wartime food because it has nutritional value and was widely available, giving people in need a boost of protein.
This fishy pie is a Cornish dish made of baked pilchards, along with eggs and potatoes, covered in a pastry crust. The invention of the Stargazy Pie was born of famine and when a local man bravely sailed out to sea and returned with fish for his village, the catch went into the pie, and every year on December 23, a festival is held for the man and you can bet plenty of Stargazy pies are made, too. While there are many variations of this pie, the unique feature has to be the fish with their heads protruding through the crust, so that they appear to be gazing at the sky.