These Are the World's Strangest Foods, According to People Who Eat Them

From Australia's vegemite to South Korea's sannakji, here are the dishes so bizarre only their mother countries could love them

balut
Trứng vịt lộn, or balut, is a popular street snack of boiled duck embryo eaten directly from the shell in Southeast Asia.Alpha

Despite our best intentions towards shared understanding, at some point most of us have been grossed out by some food that's pedestrian to others. It's the reason why shows like Bizarre Foods are so popular: sometimes we need to be a little shocked to fully understand, and hopefully, embrace another culture.

On a recent journey down the Quora rabbit-hole, I stumbled across a surprisingly insightful thread where users nominated dishes from their cultures that would probably be unacceptable to outsiders The responses were fascinating, with Hungarians calling out head cheese, or disznófősajt, Frenchmen naming rabbits, and Australians pointing out the infamous Vegemite.

All together, the answers comprise a fun little corpus of what people feel is the weirdest dish from their own cuisines. And they got me thinking about what I'd nominate myself. Pungent durian and texturally...complicated balut rank among the Southeast Asian dishes that even I, a Vietnamese-American, have trouble swallowing. (My parents love them, though.)

Take a look at some of those dishes below and visit the full thread to see if any of your favorites made the cut.

  • Australia, Vegemite, a paste made from brewer's yeast, spread on toast
  • Bangladesh, Shutki, processed (and smelly) dried fish
  • Brazil, PET bottle contaminates (various foods are placed inside a PET bottle, then cooked over an open flame, possibly contaminating the food), abacate (avocado) with sugar, chicken hearts
  • British Virgin Islands, Pea soup made with kidney beans, milk, and sugar
  • Chile, Ñachi, coagulated pig or lamb fresh blood, dressed and served in cubes with bread
  • Cameroon (Northwest), Palm grubs and grasshoppers
  • China, Virgin Boy Eggs, eggs simmered in the urine of young boys
  • Egypt, AkaWei (cooked cow or buffalo tails with vegetables), Lesan (Cooked cow tongues, Makhasi (cooked calf or buffalo testicles), KawaRee (cooked cow legs)
  • Ethiopia, Raw beef, from newly slaughtered cattle or delivered fresh meat, usually eaten along with spices (kifto is a popular variant)
  • Finland, False morel, a toxic mushroom
  • France, Rabbit
  • Germany, Hackepeter or Mett (finely minced raw pork, eaten on bread, often with raw chopped onions)
  • Greece, Kokoretsi, (Sheep or goat intestine stuffed with liver and spleen and roasted
  • India, Oorugai, a concentrated mix of pickled chiles and vegetables
  • Italy (Sardinia), Casu marzu, a.k.a. "rotten cheese" inoculated with maggots
  • Japan, Natto, fermented soybeans, which have a sticky, stringy texture and a strong smell
  • Lebanon, Raw liver served with pita, mint, pepper and salt in bite-sized portions
  • México, Huitlacoche, a.k.a. corn smut, a fungus that parasitizes the kernels, served in quesadillas
  • New Zealand, Rotten sweetcorn, a,k.a. Kanga Wai, a porridge made from sweetcorn kernels soaked in water for months
  • Norway, Smalahove, roasted sheep's head
  • Philippines, Balut, cooked duck embryo, boiled in the shell
  • Russia, Kholodets, meat in aspic
  • Scotland, Haggis
  • Singapore (also S.E. Asia), Durian
  • South Korea, Sannakji small raw octopus, seasoned with sesame oil and seeds
  • Vietnam, Balut, and dog and cat meat