Maggot cheese? Monkey’s brains? You aint seen nothing yet.
Whilst trying to gross ourselves out a while ago, our travel editors got their heads together and came up with 10 really weird foods they’d eaten or seen eaten on their travels.
1. Monkey Brains in China
The Chinese, its well known, will eat just about anything that crawls, flies, swims or slithers. It’s one of the reasons that there’s such little wildlife near any inhabited region of China. Animals are food and there’s no room for sentimentality. But imagine sitting in a restaurant where a live monkey is brought in, its head sliced open and its brains served up as a rare (and illegal) delicacy?
2. Maggot Cheese in Sardinia
Sheer ick-factor must go to the Sardinese who, whilst inheriting the Italian love of cheese, have gone to stomach-turning extremes. One of Sardinia’s national delicacies is a rotten cheese (casu marzu) infested with maggots – the worms themselves become full of cheese fat and are considered quite sumptuous.
3. Roasted Silk Worm Pupae in South Korea
If you ever get served a tray of roasted peanuts with your beer in South Korea, double check to see if it’s actually a plate of roasted silkworm pupae. The cocoons are sold also on the street and taste, remarkably enough, like rotting meat. When you pass the vendors stoke up the pupae and the smell causes many foreigners to retch.
4. Live Ants in South America
In the jungles of Colombia and Ecuador, there are species of ants which make for good eating. The locals dab them from the trees with a fingertip and it’s about as laborious as eating sunflower seeds to get a good mouthful. The trick is to chew the ants before they try and bite you.
5. Deep-fried Cockroaches in Thailand
If you share the almost universal disgust of the traveler for the devil-incarnate of the insect world, the cockroach, then perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt from the Thais who eat them. Deep-fried, the most loathsome invertebrate becomes a tasty snack. So we’ve heard.
6. Fly Pancakes in Malawi
In Malawi you can get the ultimate revenge on the most irritating of insects, the fly. The flies are so numerous in these parts of Africa that they can be caught in a net, squashed into a patty and then fried as a pancake on any available metal surface, the sun being so hot.
7. Anything to do with Fish in Japan
Everyone knows about sushi and stories about writhing fish, eyeballs etc are pretty commonplace. But what about a fish that contains a toxin so dangerous that it parayses the muscles in your lungs? 300 people die a year from eating Fugu Blowfish and they have to just sit and wait until they suffocate.
8. Bull’s Testicles in Spain
Nowhere is the cult of the male quite as famous as in Latino Macho culture and Spain retains a certain fascination with the cult of el hombre. You don’t have to like killing bulls in frenzied arenas to be a real man in Spain, but it helps. A good second best though is just to eat the testicles of the bull afterwards, better than Viagra, apparently.
9. Black Pudding in England
England’s food is as famously bad as its weather. We won’t rub it in about stodgy staple diet items like mushy peas, vegetable margarine and deep-fried Mars Bars here, but black pudding really took some imagination. Essentially, it’s boiled pig’s blood. And they serve it for breakfast sometimes. Really.
10. American Fast Food
Of the many heinous cultural legacies America has imposed upon the world, its fast food is the least comprehensible. The food has all been processed to the point that it’s quite tasteless and then souped up with chemical flavouring that ensure that your Big Mac will taste exactly the same, wherever in the world you eat it. Bring on the maggot cheese.