The world is a very big place with many different cultures and traditions. When it comes down to typical dishes, there are some bizarre foods out there that might sound a bit ‘extreme’. If you think you’re an adventurous eater, please go ahead and read on!
Here are some extremely acquired tastes to put your taste-buds to the test:
Casu Marzu, aka “Maggot Cheese,” Italy
This intentionally rotten cheese is made from Pecorino with an extra side of maggots. It’s a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese that literally translates into English as “rotten / putrid cheese”. The larvae speed up the rotting process and create a, shall we say, particularly pungent cheese that you’ll have to find on the Italian black market. The outdated and hard-to-regulate process of creating Casu Marzu has rendered the cheese illegal.
This notoriously stinky food is made from shark meat that is actually poisonous when fresh. This snack is made with a very traditional method of being buried in the ground and left to rot (or ferment, to put it nicely) for months before being hang-dried, producing a safe-to-eat snack with a strong odor of ammonia and an intensely fishy taste. Unlike casu marzu, hákarl is very legal and eaten year-round in Iceland. First-time eaters have been known to gag at best and even get sick not just from eating this food, but sometimes just from smelling it.
Live Octopus, South Korea
Koreans like their seafood fresh, and what’s fresher than a living animal? In many South Korean fish markets and seafood eateries, you choose your live octopus from the tank and either eat the still-squirming tentacles right after they’re chopped or just bite into the entire still-living animal. Koreans say that octopi can’t feel pain, but the science is still inconclusive on this matter. Regardless, occasionally an octopus are gets its revenge. Every year a few Koreans, mostly the elderly, die by choking on one of these wiggly delicacies.
Deep-Fried Tarantulas, Cambodia
They might not be pretty, but apparently they taste great! Compared to crab meat in taste, these spiders are fished from the ground rather than the sea and are subjected to a number of procedures such as defanging, washing, and being scorched for hair removal before they can be cooked. Deep fried and then wok-sauteed with sauces and spices, these crispy arachnids are a Cambodian street food delicacy.
This food is divisive even in its native country of the Philippines. Balut is a soft-boiled fertilized duck egg (yes, that means there is a fully-recognizable baby duck inside!), that is meant to be slurped and crunched straight from the shell, bones and feathers and beak and all, with just a pinch of salt. You can see (and smell) the eggs lined up in many street food stalls all over the Philippines and in some parts of Vietnam.