This content is a list of 10 unusual foods eaten in different cultures. It includes descriptions of each food and its significance in the culture it is consumed in. The foods range from Balut, a fertilized duck embryo popular in the Philippines, to Surstromming, a fermented herring dish from Sweden. Each description provides insight into the taste, texture, and preparation of the food, giving readers a glimpse into the diversity of culinary traditions worldwide.
10 Unusual Foods Eaten in Different Cultures
1. Balut – Duck Embryo
Balut is a popular street food in the Philippines that involves consuming a fertilized duck embryo. The developing duck egg is boiled and then eaten directly from the shell. It is considered a delicacy and is often enjoyed with a variety of seasonings. Although challenging for some, it is a beloved treat for many Filipinos.
2. Hákarl – Fermented Shark
Hákarl is a traditional Icelandic dish made from fermented shark meat. The meat is buried underground for several months, then hung to dry for several more. The result is a strongly smelling and tasting meat that is an acquired taste. It is commonly served in small cubes or as part of a meal in Iceland.
3. Escamoles – Ant Larvae
Escamoles are the edible larvae of ants and are enjoyed in Mexican cuisine. They are harvested from the roots of the agave or maguey plant. With a nutty and buttery flavor, they are often used in omelets, tacos, and other traditional dishes. Despite their origin, many who try them find escamoles surprisingly tasty!
4. Sannakji – Live Octopus
Sannakji is a Korean delicacy that consists of freshly cut octopus tentacles that are still squirming on the plate. The tentacles are typically dipped in sesame oil and eaten raw. It is a dish that requires careful chewing to avoid any choking hazards. Brave food enthusiasts enjoy the unique texture and flavors it offers.
5. Casu Marzu – Maggot Cheese
Casu Marzu is a traditional Sardinian cheese that has an unusual addition – live insect larvae. The cheese begins as Pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese, and is then left to ferment with the introduction of cheese flies. The maggots eat through the cheese, giving it a soft and creamy texture. It is certainly an acquired taste and not for the faint of heart.
6. Balut – Thousand-Year-Old Egg
Also known as century eggs, thousand-year-old eggs are a Chinese delicacy. These preserved eggs are made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months. The process transforms the eggs, giving them a gelatinous texture and a distinct flavor.
7. Fried Tarantulas
In Cambodian cuisine, fried tarantulas are a popular snack. These hairy spiders are lightly seasoned and deep-fried until they become crispy and crunchy. While they might seem terrifying to some, locals consider them a delicious and protein-rich treat that can be consumed on its own or cooked with various seasonings.
8. Huitlacoche – Corn Mushroom
Huitlacoche, also known as “corn smut,” is a type of fungus that grows on corn. While it may not sound appetizing, it is considered a gourmet delicacy in Mexican cuisine. The fungus possesses an earthy and unique flavor that adds depth to soups, quesadillas, and other dishes.
9. Shirako – Fish Sperm
Shirako, often referred to as “soft roe,” is a delicacy in Japan. It is the milt or sperm sacs of male fish, particularly cod, anglerfish, or pufferfish. Usually served freshly steamed or raw, it has a custard-like texture and a creamy taste. Despite its unusual origins, Shirako is highly regarded in Japanese cuisine.
10. Surstromming – Fermented Herring
Surstromming is a traditional Swedish dish made from Baltic Sea herring that is fermented for months. The fermentation process produces a pungent aroma that has led to the dish being banned in some public places. However, enthusiasts relish the strong and unique flavor. It is often enjoyed with crispy bread, potatoes, and various accompaniments.