If you take a walk through the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico, you will find people in the street markets selling Chapulines. These are basically fried grasshoppers that are eaten as a snack and sometimes added to regular daily meals such as burritos. Now, the idea of eating bugs to most people in the western world is disgusting but to most people in Mexico, Chapulines are a national delicacy. However, if you consider that restaurants in Vietnam serve clients with beating cobra hearts mixed with snake blood, then you might see Chapulines as a less disgusting dinner option. These two are hardly the most disgusting foods in the world though.
Casu Marzu still tops every list of disgusting foods because despite being banned, it is still sold in many underground eateries in Sardinia and other places in Italy. It is made by cutting off the top part of sheep cheese and allowing flies to lay eggs on it in the open. Maggots are then allowed to grow into the cheese decomposing the center into a fine paste. The cheese is served with the live maggots digging through and it is supposed to eaten that way. It is believed to improve fertility, especially in newly married couples. However, it is still rotten cheese, so it only depends on what disgusts you the most between the odour and the maggots.
Roaches are one of those things most people never want to see, leave alone putting them anywhere near their mouths. Roaches fit every definition of disgusting whether alive, dead, fried, or smoked. However, in night markets in Laos, Cambodia or the Philippines, you will find tones of these bugs fried and being bought the same way you would buy ice cream in the streets of London.
It isn’t just South East Asia though; cockroach farms have sprouted in many places in Europe and the US although the bugs have not been accepted as a protein source by many. In a bid to popularize eating of roaches, a farm in Florida set up a competition in 2012 for people to chew on live cockroaches and win a pet python. Sadly, one man choked on the bugs and died and that may well be the last time anyone will ever try to introduce the roach snack in the US.
Covid 19 raised awareness on the need to keep wild animals off people’s tables with most fingers pointed at china. However, fruit bats are eaten in many places and most fans of the delicacy argue that these bats are not dangerous since they only eat fruits. They are still bats though, and the sight of the ugly looking black mammal on your dish should be more than enough to scare you. Advocates claim that the food is tasty especially on the island of Palau where bat soup was once considered the island’s staple food. Some people around the world still hunt bats for meat though, so this may not be the only disgusting bat soup in the world.
The very mention of spiders causes a cringe in some people, and the sight of one is enough to cause panic, which is why the idea of eating a tarantula is gut-wrenching. However, in Cambodia, fried tarantulas are a very important source of protein. Once cooked, these scary arachnids are not that scary anymore. They are salted and deep-fried, sometimes rolled in sugar or garlic to improve the taste. They are then sold by street vendors and you will find the locals eating them by the handfuls as they walk around.
The only places you will see this one in the West is on Fear Factor and anti-animal brutality documentaries. In the Philippines, it is just another way of eating a duck egg, except this one has a nearly hatched chick inside. Eating this particular snack would take a little bit of a cold heart because you may have to chew through the beak, skull and torso of a half-cooked unhatched duckling. The eggs, usually quick boiled, are hawked around cities and neighbourhoods. All you have to do is eat everything you find inside the shell, which will include a duckling at a certain stage of development depending on how many weeks the egg had incubated.
Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, is harvested from the poop of the wild, cat-like creature called Civets. These creatures feed on small reptiles and insects but also plant seeds and coffee cherries. It is believed that their digestive system removes the acidity from the beans, leading to the production of super-smooth coffee.
The problem is that once eaten, civets don’t poop out all the beans, some are digested within their bodies which is why whatever is left is so expensive. Most of these animals are now held in captivity in Indonesia by farmers, fed on a strict diet of coffee beans, and living in deplorable conditions that animal protection activists have condemned for years. Still, the world’s favourite coffee is harvested from their poop and most people are willing to pay top dollar for it.
Virgin Boy Eggs
You guessed right; virgin boys don’t lay eggs! So, these “delicious” Chinese eggs have to be boiled in the urine of young boys, preferably under 10, to make them virgin. It is a popular snack sold by many street vendors especially in spring in Zhenjiang province of China. It is not clear why it has to be boys and how the eaters know the urine came from boys. The vendors actually make orders of this disgusting ingredient from local primary schools where the boys go to. It has nothing special to it, just eggs boiled in urine and the eater has to bear with the smell. The locals claim that it has great health benefits including preventing heatstroke. Maybe it does!
This Chinese tonic is also found in some places in Korea and is believed to be a centuries old drink in both communities. It is basically rice wine infused with up to a dozen baby mice and left to ferment for up to a year. The mice have to be less than 72 hours old by the time they are inserted into the bottle so their eyes are not even open yet. It is hard to comprehend the morality of that industry but it doesn’t end there. Sometimes, after drinking the wine they eat the mice as well.
Su Callu Cardu
It is another Sardinian cheese that always makes its way to the most disgusting foods in the world. In this case, the ingredients are the stomach of a baby goat and its mother’s raw milk, so you can guess where this goes. The stomach is tied up on one end then filled with the mother’s raw milk before being fermented for up to four months. The contents are then sliced and eaten or spread on bread.
In Beijing, there is a restaurant named Guolizhuang that specializes in serving animal penises and testicles. Its choice of culinary speciality is bone-chilling for most people but not strange. In many cultures around the world, people believe that eating a penis increases virility although there is no scientific backing for that. In China, you can find restaurants that serve the penis of anything you like including donkeys, dogs and even snakes and this is just one of them.