Before you call us ethnocentric, understand that the food items picked were so reviling that some of them have even been outlawed in their own home states. Sometimes, despite common sense, the most disgusting things imaginable become delicacies. Sometimes food that seems normal enough to a particular population just isn’t to the rest of the human race. Either way you slice it, these are the 12 most disgusting “delicacies” from around the world.
Kopi luwak isn’t your average coffee, and if you spend enough time around coffee snobs you’ve probably heard of it. Also known as civet coffee, this delicacy goes through quite a journey before finally reaching the consumer. A civet (think meerkat) first eats the coffee berries, enjoying the fleshy pulp, and begins the digestive process that apparently gives kopi luwak its unique flavor. Although there’s some complex science behind the process that alters the beans themselves, kopi luwak is basically made from pooped out coffee beans. Sure, they’re cleaned before they’re roasted, but it’s still poop coffee.
Monkey brains are a favorite of the Chinese, and are often enjoyed in a few other countries. In Indonesia, monkey brains are believed to cure impotence, which has of course led to over-hunting of the poor monkeys. The brains are either cooked, or served raw — out of the monkey’s skull. Some stories say that the most traditional (and disturbing) method of consumption is to eat the brains out of a monkey’s skull while it’s still alive. Not only is this delicacy just plain gross, but anyone consuming the brains of primates is at risk of contracting fatal degenerative neurological disorders — so it’s probably not worth it.
A favorite in Taiwan, rooster testicles are usually boiled and eaten with very little garnish. If you want to get creative, throw in some basil and ginger — but seasoning or no, you’re still eating rooster balls. The worst part has to be researching what they’re like to eat: “Bulbous” and soft, with tight sausage-like skin and a tofu-like texture. Rooster balls just don’t sound appetizing at all. What would drive someone to eat a rooster’s testicles to begin with — or any animal’s hanging bits for that matter?
Dr. Seuss did not have these green eggs in mind when he wrote his famous children’s book. Century eggs are a delicacy enjoyed in China, usually at special occasions like weddings. Traditionally, chicken, quail or duck eggs are coated with a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice hulls, then preserved for anywhere between several weeks and several months depending on the process chosen by the “cook.” What once resembled a tasty, edible treat is now a jellied mass of a thousand farts. Although it’s common to wrap some ginger around a slice of century egg, we can’t imagine the stench would be subdued at all. In fact, it’s known to smell so bad that a myth developed long-ago that century eggs are prepared by soaking in horse urine. That method would probably be slightly more appetizing.
Fruit Bat Soup
Fruit Bat soup is considered a delicacy in Palau, and some tourists even venture tasting this disgusting dish while visiting. Now, the obvious question is “what’s so gross about that, isn’t it just some fruit bat meat chopped and boiled into a soup?” No, actually; they dump a live, whole fruit bat into a pot of boiling milk and serve it up as soup. We don’t even want to start thinking about dealing with the fur and other innards, not to mention what’s still inside those innards. Even if we could somehow get over it — which isn’t likely — it just seems like a lot of work for such little reward. That’s of course forgetting about the fact that there’s a whole bat in your bowl of soup.
We love all kinds of cheese, but this one pushes even our limits. Casu marzu is a delicacy made from sheep’s milk, and can be translated literally from Sardinian as “rotten cheese.” We feel that’s a bit of an understatement, because not only is the cheese spoiled, but it’s riddled with maggots — on purpose. The cheese starts off as any other Pecorino cheese, but is launched to revolting status when it’s set outside to ferment and serve as a breeding ground for cheese flies. The maggots hatch and begin to eat through the cheese, pooping it back out — et voila — casu marzu is born. Keep in mind that eating maggots may lead to serious stomach and intestinal issues, including the little guys boring through your organs’ linings. Oh, and you must eat it while the maggots are alive, the cheese is considered toxic once they’ve died.
Pacha is one of those things that’s borderline when it comes to the question of “is it revolting, or just foreign?” In Iraq, it’s one hell of a good meal. In most other places across the globe, boiling an entire sheep’s head and eating it might be considered a bit on the crazy side. Traditionally, pacha is served as a nice soup with the entire head in the broth, along with its stomach which has been sewn shut, containing rice and meat from the more normal parts of the sheep. Markets where pacha-makers might shop would have a table with nothing but a stack of sheep-heads on it. Lamb is good stuff, but once you see a whole sheep’s head in a pot of soup, it’s a bit hard to go forward unless you’re raised on the stuff.
It’s not really that uncommon to encounter crawling creatures of all types in exotic cuisines — worms, ants, and scorpions immediately come to mind, after all. It’s also extremely common to find fungi on the ingredients list of many a recipe, after all, mushrooms are just a fungus — but there can only be something terrifying when the two collide. Caterpillar fungi is the result of a caterpillar attempting to munch on some fungus, getting infested by said fungus, and then getting mummified by it while it’s still attached. In the end, you get what looks like a fungus that actually grew roots. Despite how gross this is, caterpillar fungus has had a long history in both Traditional Chinese as well as Tibetan medicines, and has gained popularity since the West learned of its medicinal value — it now goes for $1,360 to $8,200 per pound. If you don’t fancy eating one of these worms straight up, you can always add it to a nice soup — fruit bat, perhaps?
This might look like a messy serving of tomato sauce, but it’s far more nauseating than that – Tiết canh is a traditional Vietnamese dish of blood. Made from raw duck blood, Tiết canh is garnished with chopped duck innards, sprinkled with chopped peanuts, coriander, mint, a splash of lime, then served in a shallow bowl. Before this lovely dish can be consumed, it must be placed in the refrigerator to allow the blood to properly coagulate. This allows for easier consumption — you know, because if you leave the blood out at room temperature it might seem more like you’re actually eating blood. We heard it’s Edward Cullen’s favorite dish.
Namibian Warthog Anus
Anthony Bourdain made a lot of people sick to their stomachs when he recorded an episode of his show while in Namibia. The locals, making full use of the native warthog population, had a delicacy quite unlike most others. Their “delicacy” was not the brains of the animal, or even its heart. It’s the anus. To make matters worse, this “dish” is usually served ’round a campfire, so tradition calls for it to be eaten unwashed, uncleaned, and technically al dente since it’s only supposed to cooked the slightest bit before consumption. No thank you, Namibia.
Throughout Southeast Asia, matured duck eggs are enjoyed as a sort of street-delicacy. They’re not expensive, and they’re certainly not difficult to procure, so everyone can enjoy them all year-round. This does not make this dish any less disgusting to everyone else, though. Balut is a duck (or chicken) egg that’s been allowed to mature in warm conditions for about 17-18 days. At that point, it’s boiled just like a regular egg. Then a hungry customer buys one, cracks open the shell, sees the mostly-formed tiny bird curled up in it — feathers and all — and says “yum!” While many people simply drink the juices that flow out of the egg, the proper consumption of Balut means actually eating it.
Of all the things on this list, this one has to be the most absolutely vile, putrid, and most ridiculous thing ever to be eaten by man. Kiviak is eaten mainly in the most northern parts of the western hemisphere, being as it’s a traditional Christmas dish in Greenland. Basically, a seal is killed at some point in the Spring or Summer, and after all the meat’s been taken, the carcass and hide are put to use creatively. They stuff the thing full of dead birds, sew it shut like a big potato sack, and bury it under the permafrost, not to be touched until Christmas. When the holiday season’s in full swing, the putrid time-capsule of fermenting meat is dug out of the ground for all the happy Christmas-goers to enjoy. The heads of the birds are bitten off, and the insides are sucked out like some sort of meat-cheese-jelly. Sound appetizing? Didn’t think so.