Weird Foods Of The World

There’s a lot of weird food out there. Most of these strange offerings are simply menus that have been eaten through the generations and have become commonplace (and enjoyed) in the areas where they’re consumed. I’m acquainted with people who have come to my country from around the world and visa versa (myself included). All of these people (myself included) have a tendency to miss the food from home, all the things they can’t get where they are currently planted.

I think we can all agree that traditions, including food traditions, are something we all hold dear without ever really wondering how they came into being. Why are some foods eaten in certain areas of the world but not others? Two words: Opportunity and necessity.

Many parts of the world today are fortunate to have continuous access to food that is sourced locally as well as internationally but this was not always the case.
Before there were grocery stores and worldwide transport, food was provided according to what could be grown, foraged or hunted locally. There was always the fear that this food supply could be interrupted at any time by weather, insects, political unrest, illness and many other random occurrences.

For this reason, any item that was obtained was used to its fullest extent. No part of the animal or vegetation was wasted.

And when those interruptions to the food chain did take place? You still gotta eat. Of course, anything tastes good when you’re hungry but many people found that their “food of last resort” was better than they thought it would be and continued to eat it even after the crisis had ended.

What do you say we take a look at a few of these weird hangers-on that are still enjoyed in different areas of the world?

Aftermarket Body Parts

Fish Heads and Eyeballs

Although the head and eyes of animals are eaten worldwide, fish seems to be the most popular. In many cultures, the entire fish is presented at the dinner table and the eyes of the fish are often saved for the most honored guest. The heads of animals are commonly used to make soup in a number of countries.

Jellied Moose Nose

Similar to head cheese, this dish is considered a delicacy among indigenous communities of the northwestern region of Canada and Alaska.

Shirako

Shirako translates to “white children” but is actually the sperm sacs from certain fish. These blobs look like tiny brains and are said to have a sweet, custardy taste.

Balut

Served mainly in the Philippines, Balut is a fertilized duck egg. To properly eat one of these puppies (um….duckies?), tap a hole in the top, slurp out the liquid goodness and then enjoy the crunch of the partially developed embryo that’s left.

Muktuc

Muktic is raw whale blubber with the skin still attached. This dish can be served “as is”, frozen or pickled and is popular in Greenland and Canada. Apparently, if you have enough chew power, it renders a oily, nutty flavor and is high in vitamins C and D.

I’m Gonna Eat Some Worms

Crispy Tarantulas

It’s believed that tarantulas were first eaten by Cambodians starving under the Khmer Rouge regime. These days, the fried creepy crawlers are often rolled in sugar or garlic and sold by street vendors but, unfortunately, the effects of deforestation and over-harvesting may put an end to the practice.

Ant Egg Soup

This blend of fish, fish stock, spices, ant eggs and ant embryo is popular in parts of Asia. Fans say it tastes like shrimp, while the addition of baby ants lends a sour aftertaste.

Locusts

Eating Locusts sort of makes sense. They’re crunchy and sweet tasting, can be eaten smoked, dried or fried, sometimes mixed with meringue or caramel for dessert. Locally sourced and high in protein, locusts are also kosher. And they eat your crops. What better revenge than to beat them at their own game?


Did Someone Say Cheese?

Casu Marzu

This cheese from Sardinia starts out as Pecorino. Fly larvae are introduced into the cheese which burrow through the cheese after they hatch. Casu marzu is considered unsafe to eat after the maggots have died unless it’s been refrigerated.

Milbenkäse

This German specialty cheese starts out as something akin to feta but then it’s placed in a box with some rye flour and mites. The enzymes in the digestive juices excreted by the mites (Yup. Mite poop) cause the cheese to ripen. This method of cheese making, which dates back to the Middle Ages, was almost extinct by the 1970s when only one person remained who knew how the process worked. Luckily (?) he was able to pass the information on before he died.

Eat This and That

Huitlacoche (Cuitlacoche)

The word itself translates to “corn smut” or “black mushroom” and refers to a blue black fungus that sometimes grows on organic corn. It’s a rare occurrence and is considered a delicacy in Mexico.

Airag

This Mongolian drink is mildly alcoholic and made from fermented mare or camel milk. Advocates say the taste is “quite agreeable after getting used to it” and the flavor profile “refreshens and sparkles softly on the tongue”. Very few first time drinkers agree.

Black Pudding

This is a traditional English/Irish pudding made from the fresh blood of a slaughtered animal. Although similar to blood sausages found in other regions of the world, black pudding is distinctive for using a higher proportion of cereal (such as oatmeal) and various spices.

 

Eat! Drink! And Be Merry!


While I’m not adventurous enough to actually try any of these foods, I’m certainly not knocking them. Hey, I’m from New England, where we eat peanut butter marshmallow sandwiches (“fluffernutters”) and brown bread that comes in a can. Moxie, a local carbonated beverage for which outsiders have used the words like “burnt root beer”, “rust” and “battery acid” to describe it’s flavor, actually has its own yearly festival. Who am I to point fingers?

Have you tried any of these unusual foods? What strange foods are served in your local area? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

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10 Replies to “Weird Foods Of The World”

  1. Nope, have never tried any of these “weird” (to me) foods. At this moment, don’t even have a desire to try them. Never say never though.
    Interesting, eye opening, and informative article. Thanks for sharing your research!

    1. I have to say that I have had the opportunity to try some of these foods and have not done so. As a point of reference, though, I brought a very decadent chocolate cake to a party for a number of foreign exchange students that were here in the US. They tried gallantly to eat it so as not to offend me but were obviously so repelled by it that I ended up taking it away. They apologized, I apologized, it was all very awkward. Exactly what happened (in reverse) when I visited their country. I guess there are just some things we can’t agree on!

  2. I have never tried anything of this unusual and weird food. I want to try it, why not? I like different things and this article is very interesting to me. 

    Kind regards!                                                                                                                                      

    1. I have been to a number of different countries and have tried many different foods.  Some I like and some…not so much.  It was certainly worth the adventure, though, and I recommend it 100%!

  3. I am from Thailand and I am no stranger to spicy Fish Head soup, Salmon preferably and really really spicy with kiffer limes, it is such a comfort dish for me. I also eat fried fish eyeballs, they are just so flavorful, my husband get gross out most of the time though. 

    I also love balut, I usually eat it with chilli fish sauce. I also love Ant egg soup, really spicy of course. I have never yet get to try tarantula yet but I heard it tastes like soft shell crab. 

    I also love a black pudding as well, it is such a great breakfast dish, I loved it so much when  stayed in the U.K over the summer with my relatives. 

    I am surprised that I tried almost all of them lol. Also, I enjoyed fired crickets and silk worms as well 🙂

    1. I did this article as a tongue in cheek exercise, as what I eat is equally weird to people from other parts of the world.  I know this to be true as I have family members and relatives that hail from and live in different parts of the world (including Asia).  

      It’s nice that you have had the chance to travel to such an extent that you’ve been able to try all of these foods!  I have been to a few different countries and find the differences to be very interesting.

  4. The Chinese believe that you are what you eat, so eating fish heads can improve your head, eating fish eyeballs can make your eyes brighter. Although this claim has no scientific basis, it is a tradition left over from thousands of years. Balut is also popular in some parts of China. We call it a hairy egg.

    1. I have relatives from and in China so I know that fish heads are a popular food, as well as many other foods I have never tried before!  On the flip side, I brought a chocolate cake to a party for a teenaged Chinese boy for his birthday. He was unable to eat it (although he was polite enough to try).  I was unaware that the American tradition of eating overly sweet desserts is weird to the Chinese.  I guess it all depends on what you’re used to eating!

  5. Wow I appreciate your post but am gonna say that Weird food of the world is something great and also good to explore sometimes reasons are some food may be well known to you and could not be weird also to you because it might be your local meal or meal for festivals in your town. For me the only one am cool with here is the head of a fish that’s no problem for me at all I can eat that well. Thanks for sharing with us weird food of the world. 

    1. I agree that there are people all over the world who would wonder why I think these are weird!  And all those people probably think that what I eat weird.  It’s all in the eye of the beholder, right?  

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