Traveling allows you to experience the beauty of different locations, cultures, languages, and even cuisines. Occasionally, you may have to face situations where you must overcome the reluctance to try out some unusual dishes from around the world. Below is a list of the top 15 most strangest foods to eat before you die.
15Birds Nest Soup, China
Chinese chefs have been making bird’s nest soup for over 400 years using the nests of swiftlet birds commonly found in South Asia. This soup is a popular traditional Chinese dish, and the Chinese believe it promotes longevity. Swiftlet birds construct their nests using their own gummy saliva in dark caves.
Chinese people believe this saliva, along with small leaves and other ingredients within the nest, is a rich source of nutrients. The cleaned swiftlet bird nest is simmered in chicken stock to create a unique and nutritious soup. Although swiftlet nests can be available in Asian markets, they are often costly.
14Fried Grasshoppers, Worldwide
Many cultures around the world enjoy fried grasshoppers as a delicacy, with Asian countries and Mexico being popular places to find them. These insects are a great source of protein, and when deep-fried, they are called ‘chapulines.’ In Mexico, they are often wrapped in tortillas and served as a seasonal dish during the rainy season.
The taste of chapulines is similar to fried chicken skin and mushrooms mixed with shrimp. In Mexico, it’s common to find street vendors selling fried grasshoppers with chili paste, garlic, and lime at an affordable price. Sometimes, you can also find spiced chapulines served in bars as a casual snack, often paired with a cold beer.
13Fried Spiders, Cambodia
Fried spiders are a strange and unique cuisine in Skuon town, Cambodia. It has a large market in Cambodia, which is particularly popular among tourists, who comprise most of its customers. Within Skuon town, you can find many of these edible spiders in the size of your palm. Without separating any parts of the body, the natives of Cambodia fry spiders in oil.
The locals use a mixture of salt, garlic paste, and chilies to add flavor to the dish, which has a tender center and crispy outer layer. While the head and body meat is mild in flavor, the legs are stiff and crunchy.
In Korean markets, you can often find Boendegi – a popular fried food made from silkworm pupa. They prefer this food due to its high vitamin content and low fat rate. The pupa has a distinct fishy and nutty flavor when boiled or steamed. Its outer shell is crunchy, while the inside is soft and juicy.
Traditionally, Koreans would add sugar and soy sauce as side ingredients. When Boendegi grows inside trees, its unique taste reflects the tree’s flavor. During the Korean War, it became popular due to its excellent nutritional value, providing a stable protein supply. Besides its low cost, it is widely available in the Korean market due to its protein richness.
In many African regions, the Mopane caterpillar is a commonly found and large insect. Zimbabwean people consider fried or cooked Mopane worms a part of their daily diet and a snack. Mopane worms are abundant in rural areas of Zimbabwe and are known for their high protein content. In fact, they contain three times more protein than beef.
Consuming worms has little impact on the natural ecosystem. The harvest for Mopane worms starts after the rain when they are found in large numbers. Once dried, you can consume it directly or cook it with peanut butter sauce. Fried Mopane worms are exported to various parts of Africa annually and are available in famous African restaurants in Paris.
In central Mexico, escamoles are a type of ant larvae that are highly prized for their rich nutritional value. These tiny, egg-shaped larvae are harvested from maguey plants and have a delicious, nutty flavor that resembles pine nuts or corn kernels.
Escamoles are often enjoyed on their own or fried in butter with onion and chili before being wrapped in corn tortillas and served as tacos. While fried escamoles can be expensive in Mexico, they are worth it and pair well with many other traditional Mexican dishes. These natural ant egg foods are available all year round in Mexico.
9Rocky Mountain Oysters, United States
Rocky Mountain oysters are a beloved delicacy in certain regions of western Canada and America. These are the testicles of castrated bulls that have been prepared for human consumption. Other names, such as mountain tenders, prairie oysters, calf fries, and cowboy caviar, also refer to Rocky Mountain oysters. They are a part of the ranching culture that emerged during the expansion into the American and Canadian West.
People prepare it either by deep-frying or cooking it with flour, pepper, and salt to prepare them. Many enjoy them battered and served with condiments like ketchup, cocktail sauce, hot sauce, or mayonnaise. While they may seem unusual, you can often see them served at festivals in parts of the US where castration is common.
Sannakji is a Korean dish made from small pieces of live young octopus. It is highly prized in Korea because of its freshness. They prepare it by cutting the octopus into small pieces and cooking briefly with seed oil and green onion.
It is common to see Korean locals eating the octopus whole, wrapping it around chopsticks, and popping it into their mouths like an oversized Tootsie Roll pop. However, since the octopus is alive in the dish, one must be very careful when consuming it. There is a risk of choking on swallowed pieces of octopus, so caution is necessary.
Hakarl is a unique dish in Iceland made from the dried meat of the Greenland shark. You can find it in Icelandic supermarkets all year round, and it is often available during the Porrablot mid-winter festival. The preparation of Hakarl is complicated and involves a special fermentation process that lasts four months before deep frying.
The dish has a distinct smell, is rich in ammonia, and has a texture similar to cheese. Some people enjoy eating Hakarl as a snack with vodka, but it is important to note that the fresh meat of Greenland sharks is highly poisonous because of its high urea content.
In the streets of the Philippines, you can find a unique food called balut eggs. These duck eggs are aged and contain feathers and other growing parts. The locals consider them highly nutritious and affordable.
To consume balut eggs, Filipinos crack off the narrow end of the shell and make a small hole in the membrane to sip the warm amniotic fluid as soup. Then, they season the egg with salt and vinegar and peel it to eat the yolk and delicate bird inside. Some prefer to boil the eggs before serving and enjoy them with a mixture of vinegar, chilies, and garlic. Only the shells are left uneaten.
In Japan, a unique dish called Shiokara might seem strange to some. The dish requires fermenting marine animals such as cuttlefish or squid in their own guts with salt. Thus, its preparation involves creating a thick paste using the inner organs of these animals along with rice, salt, and chilies, which then ferment for over a month.
The resulting dish has a distinct flavor that is both fishy and salty. However, it may not be for everyone as the texture can be slimy and chewy, which could cause stomach discomfort. If you want to try Shiokara, you can find it at local restaurants and markets throughout Japan all year round.
4Witchetty Grub, Australia
In Australia, the Witchetty grub is a moth larva about medium size. It used to be harvested by the natives from the roots of the Witchetty plant. These larvae have orange heads and resemble segmented marshmallows. They are rich in protein and are easy to digest when eaten raw or lightly cooked.
Many Australians prefer to eat Witchetty grubs raw, as they have an almond-like flavor. However, some like to cook them and compare the taste of barbecued Witchetty grubs to chicken or prawns with peanut sauce. Its skin becomes wonderfully crispy when cooked over coal. It is safe to eat Witchetty grubs without any side effects.
3Century Eggs, China
Century eggs are a unique delicacy from China made from preserved eggs of chickens, ducks, and quails. Also known as preserved or hundred-year eggs, they take several weeks to months for preparation. This traditional Asian dish has a dark color and rich flavor.
On completion of the fermentation process, the outer egg white turns dark brown or black and becomes gelatinous, while the inner egg yolk turns dark green. To preserve, the eggs must immersed in a liquid mixture of salt, ash, clay, and quicklime, which settles to form a saline solution that can keep the eggs fresh for several months.
In Japan, you can find a dish called fugu made from the highly poisonous puffer. Only expert chefs can prepare it for consumption without risking life. Currently, about 3800 restaurants in Japan serve fugu, and the government strictly regulates the preparation and sale of the dish. Removing the poisonous parts from the puffer fish is a difficult task. To become a certified fugu chef, one must undergo a year-long course and pass a test that involves preparing and eating fugu.
Unfortunately, many Japanese people have died during the Fugu certification test. Be cautious when choosing a fugu restaurant since carelessly prepared fugu contains tetrodotoxin, which can quickly shut down your entire central nervous system. Apart from Japan, you can also find fugu in the United States and Korea.
1Snake Wine, South-East Asia
Are you tired of the same old traditional foods and looking for something with a bit of a kick? Consider trying snake wine, a rice or grain beverage infused with snakes. This unique drink is very popular in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, and some varieties even include scorpions.
The venom in the snake provides protein elements that are beneficial for health. Although venomous snakes are preferred for being especially powerful, the ethanol in the wine can denature any venom without causing any harm. The wine’s fermentation enhances its healing properties and cures health issues such as rheumatism, back pain, and hair loss.