Sustenance is found in many different forms in different countries around the world. What one country considers a delicacy another country may consider disgusting. There are dishes served in some areas of the world that many people can’t bear the thought of tasting and others that might seem a bit odd but are actually surprising in the tastes they offer the brave heart willing to try them. Thankfully, there is enough information available that compiling a list of the ten most unusual food dishes in the world doesn’t require tasting them.
10. Deep Fried Seahorse or Starfish
It’s hard enough to find a live seahorse in the ocean; they are rare, odd, beautiful creatures that are considered food options in Beijing. If sea horses aren’t your thing, head over to the deep fried start fish on a stick and give them a try. Beijing is a city that has an odd variety of foods available in their markets and stalls. Deep fried seahorse on a skewer is simply another odd delicacy found in a city that is known for eating grasshoppers and silkworms among other items.
9. Rocky Mountain Oysters
Not a country to be left out of a list, America has its own odd food, the Rocky Mountain Oyster. To the laymen, this might sound like wonderful seafood found in the Rocky Mountains. The reality is that these are bull testicals that are served up in areas where cattle is raised. Many people consider them a delicacy and cook them by peeling the sac off, pounding them flat then deep frying them. Rocky Mountain oysters also go by other names such as calf fries or bulls eggs. These ‘oysters’ are typically not sold fresh due to the work involved in harvesting them. However, they can be found in the freezer section in some American West towns and are often served during festivals in those parts of the country.
8. Pork Brains
Another American oddity that is right up there in terms of unusual food with many other countries around the world. Traditionally served in the south, pig brains can be found in some older grocery stores. The brains are canned in milk gravy and shown being served over a bed of scrambled eggs. The dish is not something many people discuss if they do indulge in it and it isn’t something you’d serve your guests, unless they are your relatives and they asked for them.
7. Duck Tongue
With so many other wonderful parts of the duck to eat it is hard to fathom why anyone would choose to eat a duck tongue. But, they do. This Chinese dish has even started showing up in restaurants in New York City. Some people like the taste to that of cod liver oil. Other people say that duck tongues are so good you can’t eat just one. Duck tongue is prepared by allowing it to marinate then quickly frying in oil. In China they are typically served with soy sauce and rice wine along with white pepper and a hint of sugar.
In some instances shark meat is a wonderful seafood meal to be enjoyed over a glass of white wine. In other instances it is a smelly dish found in Iceland that one should not consider unless copious amounts of wine have been consumed prior to the hakarl. Hakarl is shark meat that that is cured for five months or longer. It comes from the basking shark which is poisonous if not cured before eating. The resulting cured shark has an extremely high ammonia content which tends to make people gag until they acquire the taste for it. Hakarl can be chewy or soft, depending on which part of the shark it came from.
If you can stand the smell, natto, a Japanese food that is only for the adventurous is high on the list of unusual food dishes Natto is a sticky, stringy, chumpy dish made of fermented soybeans. It has a slimy, tacky texture and a smell that stops most people before they ever get close to it. While there are Japanese people who love the stuff, it is not for the weak at heart or those with sensitive noses.
4. Stinky Tofu
If the smell of Natto from Japan doesn’t make you run, head over to China for some Stinky Tofu. Shrimp, vegetables and salt are put together in brine and allowed to ferment for months. Once it is ready, a large block of tofu is placed inside and allowed to soak for a few hours. In China it is known as Chou Dofu. In the city of China, street vendors have actually been ticketed for air pollution laws. In China there are restaurants that are devoted to selling just this smelly dish, which of course helps keep the odor in the restaurant.
3. Seal Flipper Pie
Fans of Flipper the dolphin might not be quite so fond of this Canadian dish made of, you guessed it, seal flippers. This dish was at one time considered a dish eaten only by the poorer folks on the outskirts of town. Today, it can be found in Toronto and other big cities in Canada. Although the environmental laws on seal hunting have halted the commercial sale of seal flippers, it is still possible to find flipper pie in the homes of independent seal hunters. The flippers are said to be tender and quite tasty. They are soaked for a short period of time before being floured, season and browned. The flippers are then covered in brown gravy and baked for several hours before being covered with a pastry topping and finished off in the oven.
2. Thousand Year Old Eggs
Thousand year old eggs aren’t really a thousand years old but they are well past their expiration date. These eggs are often called hundred year old eggs or century eggs. These hors d’oeuvres are duck eggs preserved in ash and salt for one hundred days. The name thousand year old egg comes from the appearance of the eggs. Once they have fermented for one hundred days the white coloring of the egg turns dark gray and looks like an ancient artifact. The time the eggs are fermenting gives them strong salty flavor. If you decide to try these eggs you don’t have to worry about them coming from the Song dynasty but you might want to be prepared for a salty, smelly, rotten egg.
1. Birds Nest Soup
This delicacy in Southeast Asia could be a lifesaving dish if you ever get caught in the forest with nothing to eat, just steal a nest of the swiftlet and make yourself a bowl of soup. The swiftlet is a tiny bird that lives in caves in Southeast Asia and makes nests of its own saliva instead of twigs and straws, and is the only bird in the world that does so. The popularity of this dish has grown due to the saliva of the bird having health properties and is believed to increase libido. So, the next time your lost in the forest, look for a birds nest and throw away the Viagra.
From birds’ nests to pigs’ brains it obvious there are hundreds of unusual food dishes in the world. Man will find a way to provide food for themselves and their family regardless of the source. Overtime, some of the odd dishes that are concocted become part of a culture’s dining habits regardless of how odd the dish may seem to be to other people. Many travelers enjoy trying native dishes from around the world and make their own lists of unusual food dishes to share with their friends and family.