Weird, strange, unique and interesting foods are what we live for here at Travel Food Atlas. If there is an odd, bizarre, gross or disgusting food being eaten in some culture in some country anywhere in the world, we will be there to document it!
The Strangest Delicacies in the World
We have collected so many unique and interesting recipes from around the globe that we wanted to count down our most bizarre dishes so far! So without further ado, here are the weirdest foods eaten around the world.
1. Kiviak (Greenland)
That’s right! In Greenland, these cuddly looking little auk birds are killed by the hundreds and stuffed into a dead seal to make Kiviak. The seal is then sealed up to be completely airtight, covered in oil to repel flies and maggots, and then fermented for three months.
The pungent, toxic smelling bird meat is said to taste a bit like very mature cheeses or liquorice.
The dish is often eaten over the winter months when it is harder to catch food, and especially at special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays.
2. Penis Fish (South Korea)
Of course, who wouldn’t want to eat a fish shaped like a penis? Well in South Korea the penis fish is a popular delicacy.
Penis fish typically eaten raw, sliced and served with a savoury sesame oil sauce. It is purportedly a little bit bland with a slight sweet taste, which makes the sauce crucial.
3. Casu Marzu (Italy)
Casu Marzu is quite simply Pecorino cheese that has been completely decomposed and occupied by maggots. It is dangerous to eat and could be fatal, which is why it is banned in most countries.
It originates from Italy where it was eaten by those in desperate poverty who had little else to eat. It is now a sought after delicacy on the black market for those who wish to try the infamous illegal cheese.
4. Hakarl (Iceland)
Hákarl is an Icelandic delicacy of fermented shark meat that is famed for its incredibly pungent odor! It takes 9 weeks for the fermentation process to reduce the natural toxins in shark meat, making it ready to eat with no cooking required at all.
5. Snake soup (China)
Snake soup is a 2,000 year old delicacy eaten mostly throughout China but also some other parts of Asia. Different snakes can be used and often a customer will pick out the snakes that they want to use.
However, the most popular snakes eaten are python and water snake. It is cooked over a period of 6 hours and is considered to be healthy and full of medicinal benefits.
6. Sheeps Head Smalahove (Norway)
Although not particularly well-known for their weird food, this Norwegian recipe for sheeps head (Smalahove) wins the prize for being just outrageously odd. Smalahove is a very traditional recipe that is usually eaten on the Sunday before Christmas.
After preparing and boiling the sheeps head, it is often then served with rutabaga and potatoes. The tastiest part of the sheeps head is apparently the cheek. One serving is usually half a sheep’s head per person, yum!
7. Surströmming (Sweden)
Surströmming is well-known as the smelliest food in the world, and for a very good reason! This disgustingly stinky fermented fish is banned on planes due to the powerful odor it emits!
Swedes usually eat Surströmming with thin flatbreads and oat breads and it reportedly has a very sour, sharp, peppery taste with a salty baseline of flavor. Mostly though people say it tastes awful! This is a dish that’s only for the brave!
8. Hormiga Culona: Edible Fat-Bottomed Ants (Colombia)
There are lots of health benefits to Hormiga Culona, which are a great source of protein and even considered to be an aphrodisiac. Most report that they have a smokey flavor and are quite crunchy!
9. Birds Nest Soup (China)
Bird’s nest soup is a popular delicacy in various parts of China, the nest of a swiftlet is used to cook a brothy soup with endless purported health benefits.
It is said that bird’s nest soup helps to tackle alzheimer’s, repair skin, increase immunity, reduce fatigue, restore damaged cells and many more!
However, bird’s nest soup is known for being a pretty expensive delicacy due to the cost of purchasing the nest itself.
This is likely due to the demand and lack of supply since obtaining the nest is quite dangerous and there are many ethical considerations with over supplying them.
10. Tamilok Woodworm (Philippines)
The Tamilok Woodworm is a popular Filipino delicacy found in decaying, rotten logs in swamps-like mangroves.
The wood is then cracked open in order to extract the slimy creatures from inside.
Once you’ve cracked open the log, you can find the tamilok clams wiggling through the wood, making holes as they go along.
Similar to oysters it has a fishy, slimy texture complimented by a very off-putting stench.
11. Cow’s Intestines Tripas Tacos (Mexico)
This one actually looks delicious but it’s actually a recipe made from cow’s intestines.
Tripas or tripe is not actually that uncommon, in fact there are lots of countries around the world that have traditionally eaten it, but Mexico and Portugal are two of the countries that have continued to eat it regularly.
And take a guess at how the Mexicans eat it, that’s right, in a taco! The delicious cow’s stomach can be cooked and then eaten with a delicious taco sauce made out of fish sauce, jalapeño and lime juice.
12. Deep fried butter balls (USA)
America, land of the free, home of the deep fried butter. Yes, that’s right, Americans have decided to take a large piece of fat and deep fat fry it in order to create this absolute monstrosity of a snack.
I guarantee you’re looking at this and contemplating whether you would try it and I agree, it would probably taste delicious.
But let’s face it, deep fried butter balls are pretty disgusting and deserving of a place on this list of weird foods.
13. Shiokara (Japan)
Shiokara is a Japanese delicacy of squid intestines fermented in their own viscera (guts). It’s stinky, slimy and a very acquired taste that Westerners will struggle to stomach.
14. Fugu Fish (Japan)
Fugu is a type of pufferfish eaten as a delicacy in Japan and known for the fact that it can be potentially deadly if not prepared correctly. The fish naturally contains poison which needs to be very carefully separated from the meat by specialized chefs.
15. Goats intestines – Buchada de bode (Brazil)
Now the worst thing about this dish is that it looks absolutely disgusting. Buchada de bode is essentially the intestines of a kid goat that is cooked and served in the stomach.
But really, cooking intestines in the stomach isn’t unique to Brazil. Haggis in Scotland is very similar to this buchada de bode recipe as it utilises the stomach as a method to hold and cook ingredients.
16. Cuy Guinea Pig (Peru)
Cuy is hugely popular in Peru and is very easy to find. It is essentially guinea pig which can be cooked in a number of ways such as spit-roasting or frying.
Tourists often want to try cuy as it has gained a reputation as a must-try dish when visiting the country. This means that stalls and restaurants will serve the dish to tourists all year round, even though it is mostly eaten by peruvians on special occasions.
The cooked guinea pig is then commonly served with potatoes and vegetables.
17. Century Egg (China)
Century egg (or hundred-year egg) is a black preserved egg of a duck, chicken or quail. Of course, century egg got its name from the art of preserving the egg for hundreds of years before eating, but more commonly they are just a few months old.
Still, a very old egg doesn’t sound too delicious to me! The egg turns black with a dark green yolk after being processed in clay, ash and quicklime.
The taste is of century egg course…. interesting, and has a very strong taste. Read more about the origins, preparation and taste of century egg.
18. Stuffed moose heart (Canada)
Much like dishes such as this Peruvian dish made from cow hearts, utilising all of the available organs of an animal rather than just eating the meat it a common trend.
The moose heart is not wasted and is instead cleaned and trimmed, then stuffed with garlic, celery, onion, sage, and herbs. It is then roasted and sliced up ready to eat.
19. Fruit Bat Soup (Palau)
Fruit bat soup is a dish consumed in the Pacific island of Palau where it is was once a staple of the local diet.
It is now considered to be more of a delicacy but it acts as a great source of protein and so was a very useful dish to cook.
Fruit bats get their name from the fact that they feed on… you guessed it… fruit, as opposed to most bats who feed on insects.
There are mixed reviews about the taste of fruit bat soup with some very passionate advocates whereas others who are slightly underwhelmed by the flavor.
20. Crocodile Skewers (Australia)
In the USA they make a similar recipe with alligator meat, particularly in regions such as Florida or Louisiana where alligators are a common pest!
Usually the meat of a reptile is considered to be quite rubbery, but those who cook it often will have recipes to marinade the meat that softens it up.
After grilling on the barbecue, the skewers are often served as a kebab with pita bread and salad. Delicious, but still weird!
21. Jellied Moose Nose (Canada)
Jellied moose nose is a delicacy in Canada and Alaska where a moose nose is cooked in garlic, salt, pickling spices and vinegar and then cooled in a broth to form a jelly like substance.
Read more about the peculiarities of jellied moose nose including its origin and a recipe to make it yourself!
22. Bulls Testicles Criadillas (Argentina)
Well doesn’t that look like a delicious piece of meat? Probably the grossest part of the animal to eat and definitely one of the strangest dishes eaten in the world, but bulls testicles are not even that rare.
In Argentina, Spain and Mexico the testicles are fried and served with salsa, but in the US you might know them as rocky mountain oysters. Criadillas is the Latino recipe for bulls testicles that comes out looking surprisingly not too bad once cooked.
Eating testicles might not sound too appetizing but it is a surprisingly common snack in countries where bullfighting is popular.
23. Canned Bread (USA)
Canned Bread is exactly what it sounds like, it’s bread in a can. Canned bread was purportedly created in the 1920s when ovens were less common and so steaming over an open fire was the easiest way to make bread.
This is exactly how Canned Bread is made and, despite the fact that regular bread is now cheap and widely available, Canned Bread never went away. Whilst it might be useful in an extreme emergency, it is very dense and chewy. It is typically eaten with butter, cream cheese or jam.
Find out more about Canned Bread.
24. Beef Tongue Tacos
Beef tongue tacos are a delicacy in Mexico where the tongue of a cow is cooked in a sauce and served in tacos with chillies.
Check out our favorite Mexican Beef Tongue Tacos Recipe.
25. LIVE “Dancing Shrimp” Goong Ten (Thailand)
The shrimp are often calm until they are covered in the sauce which them causes them to jump around trying to escape, giving the illusion that they are dancing.
The sauce is in fact delicious so the flavour and taste is not actually that gross. But the fact that you’re eating a live animal that is one of the most bizarre sensory experiences you can have with food.
26. Muktuk (Greenland & Canada)
Muktuk is an inuit delicacy consisting of the skin and blubber of bowhead, narwhal or beluga whales, cut into chunks. It is often served raw but can also be pickled and deep-fried before serving with soy sauce.
Read more about the peculiar Muktuk delicacy and a recipe for the brave!
Presskopf is a type of German sausage that is made by cooking various animal parts and internal organs in a broth. It is then formed into a gelatin and cut into slices of sausages to eat cold, either on its own or in a sandwich.
Fesikh is a potentially deadly, very smelly Egyptian fish delicacy. It is most well known for being deadly if it is not prepared correctly, but its pungent smell is outrageous.
The fish is preserved in salt for two weeks or more, which is what causes its signature smell. It is then deep-fried and served with bread and salad. Most actually consider Fesikh to be quite tasty if you can overcome the smell.
29. Beondegi (South Korea)
Beondegi are a South Korean delicacy consisting of cooked silkworm pupae, typically either boiled or steamed. They are a very common street food snack where they are served in a paper cup with a toothpick.
Beondegi has a strong, notable taste but not an unpleasant one, and are said to smell like burned wood. The texture is the most unusual because the larvae are like little bags that, despite being almost empty, sometimes explode in the mouth when modeled.