WARNING: Content may cause distressed stomach, loss of appetite and/or vomiting.
This features some of those places wherein what you consider disgusting is actually their culinary specialty. Based on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, an American travel and cuisine television show on Travel Channel, Andrew Zimmern posted “10 Most Bizarre Foods I’ve Ever Eaten” on his website.
For the curious ones, read on!
Ensete in Ethiopia
Commonly known as the Ethiopian banana or false banana, Ensete is a staple crop and contributes to the food security in Ethiopia. It’s also the name of the bread made with the pounded root ball of the same plant, also called qocho or kocho. The bread is made by scraping the starchy pulp out and fermenting it with yeast, traditionally in a dug-out pit. “It’s treasured in Ethiopia as a super food. It’s an acquired taste to say the least,” Zimmern said.
Hakarl in Iceland
“Really, the worst tasting foods are the fermented spoiled ones, like Hakarl.” As Zimmern stated, Hakarl is made from Greenlandic shark. The meat is poisonous when fresh, so in order to eat it, Icelanders let it spoil in the ground for months. After the fermentation process, it’s hung out to dry for four to five months. Its ammonia-rich smell is so revolting that “eating it without gagging is what separates the men from the boys.”
Fermented Skate in Korea
According to Zimmern, fermented skate has the “distinct odor of hospital floor cleaner mixed with glue solvent.” This Korean dish, hongeohoe, or hongeo, is made by fermenting the fish in a walk-in refrigerator for as much as 15 days at 2.5 °C, and then for approximately 15 more days at 1 °C. In the traditional method before, the fish either would be stored in compost (in cold regions) or in piles of straw (in warmer regions) and left to ferment. It’s typically eaten sashimi-style.
Coral Worms in Samoa
“It tastes like liver fermented in salt water, but that doesn’t do the bright blue color very much justice.” The palolo worm or Samoan palolo worms are gathered by the locals with a net, and are eaten either raw or cooked in several different manners.
Horse Rib & Rectum Sausage in Kazakhstan
Horse is a special meat in Kazakhstan. Everything about horse, from its ribs to its rectum, is edible. Kazy, a Kazakh specialty, is a sausage type made from the long strips of meat and fat from the horse’s ribs. It’s seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, and then threaded back into the guts. Another recipe is the karta, which is made from the thickest part of the rectum. It’s turned inside out carefully so that the thick fat is encased inside.
Giant Sea Squirt in Santiago, Chile
“Culinary alchemy at its finest.” Giant sea squirts are found off the coast of Chile. They are also called piure. According to Zimmern, they’re sliced open with a serrated sword to reveal the little throbbing corpuscles that live inside the spongy, rocklike carapace. He said that it tastes like pure iodine dipped in fish oil, but with a squirt of lemon they are transformed into a mouth-watering dish.
Sea Cucumber in Alaska
“The squishy creatures taste like lettuce-y sea vegetables with a bit of crunch, but a mostly yielding buttery texture.” Zimmern even disclosed a trick on how to prepare the red sea cucumber. You start it by splitting them open, scraping the innards out, and then peel the ‘meat’ off using a spatula. These red sea cucumbers are commonly found in Alaska, where they are harvested and mostly managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Tarantulas in Cambodia
We might have seen tarantulas as pets, for some, or a dreaded arachnid for its scary image and poisonous nature. However, in Cambodia, tarantulas are deep-fried and sautéed in a wok with sugar, salt, chillies, and garlic. Zimmern, who happened to have tried this cuisine said that they taste great, “reminding me of sweet and delicate crabs when they’re fresh.” They dig out tarantulas from the ground and then defanged, washed and scorched to remove the hair.
Giraffe Weevils in Madagascar
“Try these bugs blindfolded and you’d never know you were eating a beetle that looks like a Dr. Seuss creature.” As Zimmern tried this specialty in Madagascar, the giraffe weevils were sautéed in a bit of water with salt and butter. He said that they taste like shrimp and they only live in this one place in the world – Madagascar.
Coconut Tree Grubs in Iquitos
“These protein-rich grubs taste like crisp rolls of charred chicken skin if they are cooked properly. If not, they taste like pus bags filled with rotted digested wood,” described by Zimmern. Coconut tree grubs can be found in tropical countries, especially where there are many coconut trees around. But, in Peru, these hideous-looking creatures are sold in their market, skewered and char-grilled over an open flame.
At last! You have reached the end of the list. Does anyone care for some dessert?