The human race is probably the most adventurous animal in the world. Nowhere in the animal kingdom can you find a palette as diverse as ours. It isn’t wrong to say that we eat just about anything and everything.
Sometimes, too, we even eat things that we normally would not dare touch. We are not talking about fresh oysters coming fresh out of salty waters, caviar that are really just a fancy word for fish eggs, or liquid ravioli and bubble foods. Nope, these are the things that most other people would generally not think about eating, but would willingly, sometimes happily, put in our mouths, at least on a dare with something big at stake:
1. Puffer fish. You got to hand it to the Japanese for finding a delicacy in just about everything, including a poisonous fish. They have fugu, which is a local variety of pufferfish that when incorrectly prepared would kill you. It turns out that part of the fish is loaded with tetrodotoxin that causes respiratory problems and paralysis, sometimes so severely that you could die in a matter of hours. But because of its exquisite taste and the fact that it effects as an aphrodisiac, it is a highly sought-after delicacy in Japan. So if you are in the country, do taste fugu prepared as sashimi or in a hot pot by trained and licensed chefs.
2. In Europe and the United States, and basically in most parts of the world, finding a rat in the kitchen would mean serious problems for the homeowner and it can get restaurants and dining establishments closed down by health inspectors. However, Vietnamese beer houses are having a field day with them. From restaurants, eateries and even roadside stalls, you can order your fill of rat. According to the Daily Mail, these rats have been a very popular delicacy in Southern Vietnam. They are caught after the rice is harvested and the farmers have nothing to do, or when the delta rivers rise and rat homes get flooded.
3. In some parts of Asia, it is believed that cobra blood heightens your sex drive. In Indonesia, cobra blood is prepared on street-side stalls. You just come up to a vendor, select a snake and when its head comes off, you have the option of drinking it straight down or have it poured into a teacup and mixed with a kind palm liquor. You can have water to chase down the alcohol taste. Then you can sit down and enjoy a snake satay, which is just barbecued snake meat. It can be somehow disconcerting to see a snake without its head but still squirming, or seeing the head still slithering a few seconds after it is cut off.
And if you are up to it, you can take snake oils, ointments, medicines and other snake supplements home.
It may not be as bad as you think. In fact, US servicemen and women who recently joined survival training exercises in Thailand got a taste of cobra blood. In Indonesia, cobra blood is marketed as a way for you to get some loving, and women are told that it made their breasts firmer and their skin smoother. But more than drinking the blood itself, the experience of seeing a snake’s head getting chopped off gives you a feeling that ranges from somewhat sick to somewhat satisfying. These cobras are starved because, frankly, you really do not want to have a bonus mouse together with your cobra blood.
4. Durian is famously vile in smell, but once you taste it, it is easy to forget your name. In Asian countries where it is available, the fruit has a reputation for “smelling like hell but tasting like heaven.”
5. Horse meat is a tasty alternative to pork and beef, if you do not have any qualms about killing horses. There are a lot of countries were people eat horse meat, but it is only in Japan that you get horse meat raw. You take the strips of horse meat and add freshly ground garlic or ginger to it, then dip it into soy sauce. Another meat alternative, and it would not be a good idea for PETA to read this: dog meat. East Asian cultures have a long history of eating dogs and the process of bringing dog meat to the table is a cruel one.
6. Crunchy on the outside, chewy and creamy on the inside. Nope, we are not talking about a new flavour for Mentos, but about fried cockroaches. We’ve heard that the insides feel like tiramisu.
Edward Archbold was one of those men who ate worms and cockroaches as part of an insect-eating contest in Florida. But it was not the insects that did it. Apparently, he choked to death because the roaches were lodged in his windpipe. So there really is nothing lethal about eating cockroaches. Good news for all those who love eating cockroaches out there. Yes, all three of you.
7. Europe’s bizaare food. You may think that weird food is just Asia’s domain. Not so. In Europe, there are some out-of-the-ordinary delicacies that you should try.
Hakari is basically a Greenland or basking shark that has been dried and fermented and is popular in Iceland. In Norway, Christmas is made more exciting by boiled lambs’ head, while in Sardinia, Italy, casu marzu is eaten sometimes with maggots. Casu marzu is a kind of cheese and when it gets ripe, people usually put maggots on it for advanced fermentation. They call it maggot cheese and they would promptly put it into their mouth.
n Scotland, pretty much everything in a sheep is edible. The proof? Haggis. Haggis is made of sheep stomach and stuffed with the sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. You eat it with oatmeal. We have to wonder though if it all came from one sheep. In the UK and Ireland, you have blood pudding, a sausage made out of animal blood, fat, oatmeal, spices and other grains. This is actually quite delicious and is served boiled, grilled, fried or uncooked. Speaking of puddings in the UK, you might want to try some spotted dick, and no, it is not what its name connotes.
Calves are not to travel to Eastern Europe and France, lest they become dinner. The French have a love for boiled calf’s head that they call tete de veau, while Eastern European countries enjoy the foot as they cook it as P’tcha.
8. And what’s a list of the world’s most bizarre food without worms? You can fry worms or eat them raw and live, but a German company is marketing worms as its next medicine. It is said that worms can help you get rid of incurable and inflammatory bowel diseases and their symptoms, including diarrhoea, bleeding, and pain.
So why not try out these dishes. Bon appetit?