When traveling to new places, it's always important to try the local food. Food is an essential part of any culture, and trying local foods can be an enriching and delicious experience. Exotic, new dishes can be a way to truly experience the location you are visiting. Flavors your tongue has never tasted are introduced to your palate. Your stomach has to digest a wholly unique experience. The culinary adventure of traveling can be just as exciting as the exploratory one.
With that being said, many places with very different cultures than what you are used to make strange dishes that you would not necessarily consider appealing. On your culinary journey, you may come across types of food that astound your brain while turning your stomach upside down. What some might consider disgusting, others consider a delicacy. Imagine these trials of taste as part of the experience.
For those with an appetite for adventure, we've compiled a list of the world's 10 strangest dishes from around the world, and where to find them. You might be surprised at what kinds of food are offered, especially ones that are made right next door.
10 Haggis, Scotland
Haggis, like many other foods on this list, is an excellent example of resourcefulness, using parts of the animal you typically wouldn't think about eating. Haggis is made with various sheep organs, such as the heart, liver and lungs. The organs are mixed with spices and oatmeal, creating a savory meat pudding. The mixture is then boiled in a hollowed-out sheep stomach. A hardy meal for a true Scotsman!
9 Jellied Moose Nose, Northern Alaska And Canada
Jellied moose nose is considered a delicacy by the indigenous peoples of northern Alaska and Canada. This unique dish is made by simmering the nose meat with various other moose parts, (ears, lips, etc.) adding various spices, cooling it down, adding broth, and refrigerating until the mix becomes a jelly, which is later served in a loaf form. This dish is not available at restaurants, but anyone with an adventurous appetite can find jellied moose nose at indigenous feasts and festivals.
8 Rocky Mountain Oysters, Western USA
We can thank the cowboys of the old west for this um... culinary experience. Rocky Mountain Oysters are not oysters at all; this cute name is what the cowboys call bull testicles.
When calves are young, their testicles are removed, breaded and deep-fried to create a hardy meat dish. Some compare the rubbery inside of the "oysters" to calimari, while others describe them to have a "gamey" taste similiar to venison. These bad boys are still popular in the rocky mountain states, like Colorado and Montana.
7 Balut, Philippines
Popular in the Phillipines, Balut is considered the most bizarre way to eat eggs in the world. Balut is made from hard-boiling an egg with a developing duck-fetus inside. The egg is hard-boiled after the duck fetus has about 12-18 days to form after fertilization. The egg part and the duck fetus are cooked and served in a broth. As disgusting as this dish looks, the duck fetus is said to taste like chicken.
6 Fried Tarantula, Cambodia
For Cambodians, fried tarantula is a special culinary treat. The spiders are fried in oil and garlic, giving the legs a crunchy exterior. Cambodians began eating these creepy-crawlers during the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia's communist regime of the 70s when food was scarce and the locals had to eat whatever they could find to survive. But they found the tarantulas to be good enough to eat when they weren't starving to death; today, spiders can be as expensive as $1 each, a hefty price considering many Cambodians live off of $6 a day.
5 Sannakji, South Korea
Ever wanted to eat something that's still squirming on your plate? Sannakji consists of raw octopus tentacles that are plopped onto a plate right after they're cut from a living octopus. Because of the octopus' nerve structure, its tentacles continue to squirm even without input from its brain, and they'll continue to squirm after you eat them. In fact, there are several cases each year of people choking on Sannakji, since the tentacles can grip onto the back of your throat. Yikes!
4 Fugu, Japan
Fugu is a betting man's fish... literally. Fugu is a type of poisonous blow fish that contains enough poison to kill 30 people; its tetrodotoxin, according to TIME is 12,000 times deadlier than Cyanide. Yet, in Japan, fugu is a widely-consumed treat, with over 10,000 tons of it consumed each year.
Because of the risks involved, chefs must be highly trained in removing the poison and must undergo 2-3 years of specialty training in order to acquire a license to prepare fugu. And because of this extensive training, a single plate of fugu can cost up to $200.
3 Hákarl, Iceland and Greenland
Hákarl is a traditional snack in Iceland and Greenland made from fermented shark. After the shark is killed, its meat is cured and is hung drying for 4 to 5 months. The result is a fishy snack drenched in the strong smell of ammonia.
This is an ancient technique of preserving the meat and has been common practice in the Nordic countries for centuries. And while the locals are used to its unique taste, visitors often find the flavor and smell to be less than ideal.
2 Casu Marzu, Italy
Casu Marzu is the world's most dangerous cheese and is outlawed in the EU. Originating from the Italian island of Sardinia, Casu Marzu is a sheep's milk cheese infested with live maggots. In order to prepare this special cheese, its left in a dark hut to rot for two or three months so that flies can come and lay their eggs in the cheese. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will begin to eat the cheese and leave excrement, which gives the cheese its softness, along with a rich flavor. People are told to cover their eyes when they eat Casu Marzu, as the larvae often jump out of the cheese when disturbed.
1 Fried Brain Sandwich, Midwest USA
Originating in the late 19th century, fried cow brains became a popular dish in the Midwest. Local slaughterhouses often harvested the brains to use as a cheap meat to fill a sandwich after being deep fried in a skillet.
After mad cow disease started popping up in the 80s, cow brains became even less appealing than they already were if that's possible and faded into obscurity. However, there are still places in Missouri and Indiana that serve fried pork brains.