World's Grossest Foods: Flying Maggot Cheese, Anyone?

Posted May 23rd 2011 01:30 PMUpdated May 26th 2011 12:07 PM


World's Grossest Food

Marco di Pisa, flickr

Usually, traveling comes with the added bonus of trying delicious new cuisines. But, sometimes, that just isn't the case. In some ports of call, locals like to spice up their dishes with maggots, insect eggs, blood or deadly chemicals. But, hey, to each his own, right?

There is no shortage of gross food out there. But, here is a list of 10 cringe-worthy edibles to watch out for on the road.

Have you encountered any gross foods in your travels? Leave any nastiness in the comments below, your fellow travelers will thank you.

YimHafiz, flickr

10. Durian: This fruit is so notoriously gross and smelly that in Southeast Asia it is prohibited from being brought into certain buildings and onto public transportation. Durian is a love it or hate it kind of a food. To some, it is the "king of fruit," to others it has a taste and odor akin to garlic, armpits and gym socks - all rolled into one. Hard and spiky on the outside, on the inside durians have a pale yellow flesh with a custardy texture.

9. Hakarl: This Icelandic specialty is, in essence, rotten shark meat though cured and fermented might be the more preferred description. Gutted and decapitated sharks first spend 6-12 weeks buried underground under gravel and rock weights to allow the fluids to drain. At this point it might be good to mention that when fresh, this species of shark is poisonous due to a high ureic acid content. After the shark has leeched its poison juices, it's cut into strips and hung to dry for several months, forming a delightful brown crust. The crusts is removed, however, and the meat is served cocktail style, on a toothpick.

8. Lutefisk: Another sort of putrefied fish, Lutefisk is a dish popular in the Nordic countries. It's made from dried cod that has been saturated with lye, which is, of course, poisonous. But a few days' soak in cold water makes the fish edible. It has a jello-like consistency and is typically prepared baked or boiled.

FotoosVanRobin, flickr

7. Century Egg: In this bizarre Chinese dish, eggs are preserved in some combination of salt, tea, lime, wood ash, clay and rice hulls for a few months. This process results in a petrified looking egg, with the white becoming brown and jelly like and the yolk turning greenish gray and creamy. They can be eaten straight up or as a component in a variety of other dishes.

6. Kopi Luwak: According to some sources, this is the most expensive coffee in the world. Funny, because much of the production is done by an animal called a civet and its digestive system. The civet eats fresh coffee berries (which are actually fleshy) and then defecates the undigested coffee beans. These beans are collected, washed, sun dried and roasted. Supposedly the pre-digestion produces a sweeter brew for human consumers.

Marco di Pisa, flickr

5. Tiet Canh: A nice, steamy bowl of soup, totally normal, right? Yes, if that soup is expected to be based around a broth of blood. Traditional in Vietnamese cuisine, this dish can be made in a variety of ways. In one of the simplest preparations, blood is placed in a bowl, chilled and eaten with crushed peanuts on top. The blood can also be served in a pudding-like style for a little more texture.

4. Fruit Bat Soup: Speaking of the horrifying practice of cooking things while they're still living, there's also fruit bat soup, a popular dish in Palau. A simple dish, fruit bat soup is prepared by boiling a live fruit bat in water or coconut milk. For those totally repulsed, the site Animals Asia encourages people to send letters expressing their disgust. Should we mention that these little guys are also known as disease carriers?

olivcris, flickr

3. Escamoles: In today's increasingly globalized world, the idea of eating insects is becoming a lot less strange. But escamoles still get our vote as one of the grossest creepy crawly edibles going. They are the eggs of Liometopum ants, and these puppies are huge. They have a cottage cheese like consistency with a buttery, nutty taste. They're often prepared sautéed in butter and served taco style with guacamole. So, make sure to take a closer look next time you order a taco in Mexico.

kin0be, flickr

2. Balut: Balut takes hard boiled eggs to a new extreme. This Filipino delicacy begins with a fertilized duck or chicken egg. The bird embryo is allowed to grow inside, not quite to maturity, at which time the whole egg is boiled (yes, the embryo is still alive). The entire contents of the egg are then eaten -- the brothy goodness around the embryo is slurped up and the fetus itself is taken with a dash of salt or perhaps a bit of chili and vinegar.

1. Casu Marzu: The name of this Italian delight roughly translates to Sardinian maggot cheese. Ok, not really, but it really is cheese that's been purposefully infested with maggots. To produce casu marzu, a wheel of Pecorino is left outside with part of the rind removed to allow the "cheese fly" to lay its eggs in the cheese. Though the practice of making this stinky cheese may be centuries old, modern health concerns have prompted Italian authorities to actually declare Casu Marzu illegal. The icing on the cake? Those little maggots jump into the air while the cheese is being consumed.

Filed Under: Weird, Food + Drink

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Randy Macon

My fervent wish is that these dishes constitute the buffet at the Republican Congressional Caucus luncheon.

June 01 2011 at 6:53 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

octopus is yummy lol but frog legs is something i would to try after dissecting it in a chemistry class...bon apetite~

May 31 2011 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Worst I ever had was "Stinky Tofu" in Bejing. Horrible.

May 27 2011 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Polish make a delicious soup called Chaninna ( spelling?) made from duck's blood, vinegar and I suppose some type of seasoning.

May 26 2011 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

kopi luwak is very, very expensive. Is available in the US. Delicious and was,before it had reached the west, more available to us.

May 26 2011 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Man am I hungry after these snipets. And I thought snails were tempting.

May 26 2011 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

btvs72 Really? Where are you from? We don't eat poop sacks here!! qpowell said he/she made that up! and rocky mountain oysters are in fact bull testicles!!!! Also is aol trying to beat The biggest loser? All those contestants need is to see this article everyday!!!!!!!!!!

May 25 2011 at 6:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what was mrs. anthooney doing while her husband was molesting the daughter, and the story about the child drowning is a lie, I am not an attorney or have any law practice and can tell a tell a lie when i hear it. the truth would not have hurt anyone if the child had drown. throwing her body out like trash lets you know she did not want anyone to know how the child died, and her life was only worth a garbage bag. Do not let her Casey have a easy death hang her to the tallest tree, do not wast a injection on her. She did not give her little one a choice she should not have one.If she is capable of tellint the truth, why not just leave home and the child leave the state disappear, and let her parents or a couple who wants children raise that beautiful little girl, The father has no guts to sit quietly by while his child bones or stored some place I hope he thinks of her everyday of his life.

May 25 2011 at 5:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Durian is the best... it's sweet, creamy, smells good and most of all it's very nutritious. but I am disappointed with this kind of fruit because i have planted more than 800 durian trees since 1998, every rainy season some of the trees died, that is the roll of durian trees , they are easily infected with the disease called phythotora a kind of disease that is hard to control. if you have not tried eating durian I recommend that you should try because in the future its hard to find this fruit. Investors and farmers that have already experience this kind of business are frustrated too, meaning no more durian in the streets.

May 25 2011 at 4:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I totally disagree how you describe Durian on your notes. Durian is the most delicious fruit in the world. if you want to compare the smell is with liquor (any type of liquor has a very strong smell) not armpits (so dumb). If you never test it so my suggestion try it first. Trust me you won't faint or puke.

May 25 2011 at 3:57 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply