29 World Delicacies That Might Make You Cringe
The idea behind what’s edible around the world has a lot to do with location, location, location. A dish that a citizen of one country can’t live without might make someone in another country feel like losing their lunch. Believe it or not, rotting fish, fried insects and live animals have places of honor on some menus around the world.
Adventurous eaters are in for a treat — or a trauma. Only the boldest foodies will make it through this list of bizarre meals. Get ready to try 29 world delicacies that might make you cringe.
Down under in the Australian Outback, indigenous Aboriginal people have dined on a rich, juicy viable protein source for years. The practice of eating insects for nutrition is relatively new to most Westerners, but that’s not true in some parts of the world. In the bush of Australia, the natives prefer to eat the larvae of the ghost moth fried.
If it's stinky, sticky and looks a bit gross, it must be tasty and good for you, right? Japanese dishes like ramen and sushi aren’t the only culinary gems the country offers. Fermented dishes like natto are treasured for their health benefits and unique flavor profile.
Not all delicacies look or smell alarming. In Japan, fugu (pufferfish) comes with a high price tag — and a heart-stopping health risk. Chefs must undergo three years or more of training before they can prepare this sought-after fish sashimi, smoked or fried, and serve it to guests.
Certain delicacies in Japan may shock foodies once they realize what's on their plate. Shirako may seem innocent enough with a name that translates to "white children" in English, but take a second look. Hold onto your chopsticks — shirako is a serving of cooked (or sometimes raw) codfish semen.
Once humans understood the nutritional value insects provide as a meal, eating them wasn’t just for the birds. Instead of grabbing a handful of crispy potato chips, try snacking on mopane worms, a staple for the rural inhabitants of Zimbabwe. In urban centers in Zimbabwe, eating the mopane worm is considered a rare treat and a delicacy.
Normally, if a plant or animal had a disease, you would want to keep it far from your dinner plate. However, huitlacoche, or "corn smut," is an ancient and beloved food in Mexico and beyond. Instead of tossing out corn that is covered in the fungus Ustilago maydis, the locals collect and covet the contaminated corn.
In certain places in the world, people have discovered how delicious scorpions are when fried and served on a stick. Foodies who are a bit more daring might want to try eating live scorpions, a delicacy in China. Only 40 of the 1,500 species of scorpions are a grave danger to humans, so the odds are in your favor, right? Eat up!
Eating live animals isn't for the faint of heart and generally requires a steep learning curve to safely accomplish it without damage. In Korea, eating live octopus is also known as sannakji, or "wriggling octopus" in English. There are two ways to eat sannakji — both requiring a great deal of bravery and a strong stomach.
Put aside any feelings of arachnophobia when you’re in Southeast Asia. Spiders are a popular snack in Cambodia. Due to deforestation and the growth of the country as a tourist attraction, overharvesting of tarantulas in Cambodia has made this delicacy even rarer. In the province of Kampong Cham, vendors sell fried tarantulas to both locals and tourists.
Forget about being a biblical plague, locusts make a delectable snack on the go in Israel. They are one of the few insects in the world that are kosher, crunchy and delicious dipped in chocolate. Instead of tolerating locusts eating farmer's crops, the tables are turned by turning them into a meal.
In the southern region of the United States, rattlesnake is a popular delicacy for locals in states like Texas and Arizona. Foodies flock to various restaurants or dare to capture a wild rattlesnake of their own for dinner. If you’re one of the brave ones, a rattlesnake needs to be at least 3 feet long to be worth the effort it takes to fry and eat it.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Another culinary gem from the southern and southeastern parts of the United States is the fabled Rocky Mountain oyster. Sound delicious? Well, don't be fooled by the name. These "oysters" don't come from any creature that lives in the sea. In Canada, this delicacy is called "prairie oysters." The dish is served rounded or flat and fried throughout the Americas.
The world can thank the Vikings for the creation of lutefisk. At first glance, it has a gelatinous appearance because it’s processed with lye. Lutefisk isn’t just a popular delicacy in Nordic countries like Sweden and Finland; it’s also served in Minnesota in the United States.
Haggis is Scotland's national pride in the culinary world, and it’s a flavorful delicacy with a rich history. Unlike puddings that are created to be a dessert, haggis is a savory dish, and creating it requires some effort and a host of ingredients.
France didn't just give the world good wine, crepes and baguettes. Escargot (snails) are a luxurious delicacy but not for the faint of heart. The idea of eating land snails might seem revolting at first, but it has been done since the days of ancient Rome and is practiced around the world.
Steak tartare is a surprisingly versatile dish. It’s either made from fresh ground beef, horsemeat or tuna. Adventurous food lovers may enjoy steak tartare served with capers, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings and a raw egg yolk placed neatly on top.
There's something about cooking food in a sack that elevates a dish, right? Travel to Mongolia to discover the authentic cuisine known as boodog. Practicality and the ability to travel light were the inspiration behind this hearty dish, which requires an animal carcass in lieu of a pot.
In Australia, the Aboriginal people knew eating kangaroo was a delicious and nutritious dinner choice. Kangaroos have often enjoyed protected status, maybe because even non-indigenous people in Australia now realize how tasty the tail is when roasted.
If you live in an isolated and challenging region like Iceland, maybe it's no wonder Hákarl is the national delicacy. This is not a dish for anyone with a weak stomach or a sensitive nose. The traditional dish gives off odors of ammonia and rancid, decomposing shark flesh.
Bugs are a resourceful ingredient in many delicacies around the world, and escamoles are a favorite in Mexico. Thank the Aztecs for letting the world know how delicious ant larvae, pupa and eggs are to eat. In central Mexico, eating escamoles is akin to dining on the finest of caviar.
Cuy, or guinea pig in Peru, is a delectable, traditional dish in the country. Since the time of the Incan people, guinea pig has been served with a side of salsa and potatoes. Pet lovers might be horrified at the thought of eating guinea pigs, but the Peruvian Guinea Pig is a relative to the cavy.
Forget eating simple frog legs alone. In Namibia, it's common to dine on whole giant bullfrogs. Eating a delicacy like a bullfrog doesn’t come without risk, of course. The skin and organs of the giant bullfrog contain harmful toxins that could cause kidney failure or even death when eaten.
Over the centuries, some cultures have sought to gain the powers and natures of the animals they consume as food. In Vietnam, it’s a common practice to devour cobra hearts and drink the blood of snakes. Just 20 minutes from Hanoi by cab, there’s a place known as "Snake Village" where diners can eat still-beating hearts.
Madama, or tuna eyes, are a popular delicacy in Japan and throughout other parts of Asia. They can be picked up at grocery stores for a cheap price, or you can find them served at bars fried, steamed or stewed.
It goes without saying that some delicacies are not easy to swallow. In the Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia, balut is a strange street food to many outsiders. Coming from Tagalog, or Malay, the word "balut" translates to "wrapped" in English.
When you found bird crap on your car, did you ever consider scraping it off and transforming it into an edible dish? In Greenland, the migratory Ptarmigan is like an Arctic chicken. It has served as a food source for the Inuit people of Northern Canada and other cold regions throughout history.
Virgin Boy Eggs
The delicacy of virgin boy eggs in China is proof that any ingredient can be used for making dinner. In the eastern city of Dongyang, China, the urine of boys under the age of 10 is collected. Eggs are soaked in the urine and later boiled in it to create a beloved snack for the locals.
It’s called by many names in China: thousand-year-old egg, the black egg and millennium egg, just to name a few. The art of preserving duck, quail or chicken eggs for several months results in an exquisite final product. The eggs are left to transform in a mixture of ash, clay, salt and other substances until they turn dark brown in color.
In terms of strange foods on the planet, it’s hard to find something more unsettling than a plate of Casu Marzu. As a distinctive delicacy originating from the island of Sardinia in Italy, this cheese has no equal. Casu Marzu typically needs no introduction, because of the reputation this aged cheese maintains, but if you’re not familiar with it, the cheese is made from Sardinian sheep milk that is fermented and deliberately contaminated with the larvae of the cheese fly, Piophila casei.