1. Baby mice wine
Some may argue that the Bordeaux region in France produces some of the best wines, but here’s something that probably won’t make the list – baby mice wine. This alleged health tonic involves drowning baby mice in a bottle of rice wine (which presumably tastes like gasoline). It is believed to alleviate asthma conditions and rid liver disease.
2. Balut (fertilised duck eggs)
If you’re bothered by the obsession that bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts have with egg whites and protein, how about a balut instead – a fertilised duck egg that’s almost ready to hatch, but becomes a delicacy instead. Popular in the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia (amongst a few other countries too), balut is eaten when the embryos are approximately 17 days old, where the bones are barely formed. How do you eat it? By elegantly sucking out the egg after boiling with a sauce made from chilli, vinegar and garlic!
Think about Tahiti and you picture beautiful and tranquil French polynesian seas and exotic waterfalls, so when you think about the local cuisine, it is hard to stray away from fresh seafood. Strangely enough, Fafaru is a far-cry from that. Why eat it fresh when you can eat it decomposed? Fish or shrimp is marinated in seawater for three days in the sun, and the contained water is then used to marinate fresh slices of fish. Ironically, you do have to serve the dish after 10 minutes or so with coconut milk to ensure optimal freshness.
Here’s a winter wonderland you won’t want to be caught in – eating some traditional kiviak. Made by removing the insides of a seal and then stuffing it with little auks (or birds, for those who don’t know), kiviak is eaten particularly during weddings and birthdays seven months after they have been stuffed and sewn up.
5. Tuna eyeball
Here’s something to look at! This palm-sized tuna eye is going to stare right back at you – even when you’re cooking it (lightly) then serving it with light dashi and soy dressing.
Sure, we may all be some fan of the prized truffle or the common mushroom, but here’s a fungus that you might not actually be able to stomach. Huitlacoche (pronounced as “wee-tlah-KOH-cheh”) is generally found on the ears of corn and is sometimes called corn truffle. This earthy ingredient is sometimes used to flavour quesadillas and soups in Mexico.
7. Casu Marzu
Even the most daring cheese-lover may turn his or her nose away from this one. Forget about blue cheese because Casu Marzu has to be top on the list for the strongest smelling (and arguably the most disgusting) cheese ever. In fact, it’s so bad that the European Union banned the production of this cheese. So what exactly is it? Well, just an ordinary block of pecorino cheese that’s left outdoors for larvae to form, consume and excrete the cheese. Then all you have to do is to top that larvae-infested cheese with some wine. Buon appetito!
8. Fried tarantula
Arachnophobes will probably want to skip this one. In fact, even if you’re not, you might want to stay away just in case. Considered a regional delicacy in Cambodia, the huge tarantula is usually served in a mixture of sugar, salt, garlic and MSG after an intense oil bath.
Herring fish is not a bad ingredient at all, but once it has been fermented the Swedish way, surströmming is going to be one of the most potent and pungent ingredients you’re going to use. The typical fermentation process takes approximately six months and enough salt is added to ensure the fish does not decompose, but still, the result of it is a can of repulsive fish that’s enough to turn your nose and stomach inside out.
When it’s cold and snowy outside, many of us will turn to soup to feel better. In Armenia, Khash is typically consumed as a winter delicacy, which is a warm bowl of cow’s feet, head and tripe (and other mysterious cow parts) boiled all night into a thick, flavourful broth.