25 of the Strangest Foods from Around The World

Posted by on November 18, 2011

What do fried brains, puffin hearts, and drunken shrimp have in common? They are all considered delicacies somewhere in the world. While most people probably do not consider the contents of their cookbooks to be too strange, to a foreigner your lunch could be the equivalent of a nightmare. So, before we dive into our culinary tour of the strangest foods from around the world you should ask yourself how much you really want to know about the eating habits of your fellow humans.

Fried Brain Sandwich


Largely a dish of the past, these used to be popular in the Central United States until mad cow disease became a concern. Although people still eat them, serving brain from a cow that is over 30 months old at slaughter is no longer legal in the United States.




Ant larvae harvested from the roots of the agave plant, these are considered to be a delicacy in Mexico. In fact, they are sometimes even referred to as “insect caviar” . It is said that they taste like butter but slightly nutty.




Typically eaten in Iceland, they say that this fermented basking shark is an acquired taste. We believe the hype considering that Chef Anthony Bourdain of the Travel Channel described it as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he had ever eaten.


Bird’s Nest Soup


For hundreds of years the Chinese have used saliva nests in their cooking, primarily in this soup. While there are many varieties, birds nest soup as a whole is one of the most expensive foods on the planet with the red nest variety costing up to 10,000 USD per bowl.


Drunken Shrimp


A popular dish in parts of china where the shrimp are eaten alive but stunned in a strong liquor prior to consumption. This recipe is also popular in parts of the United States but it includes an intermediary step known as “cooking”.




A northern swedish dish that consists of fermented baltic herring, it is usually sold in cans like the one above. While they are being shipped the cans sometimes bulge due to the ongoing fermentation. Recently, a study in Japan found that surstromming releases the most putrid odor of any food in the world. Somehow it makes sense that it’s usually eaten outdoors.




Like many eastern foods, this one is served raw. Very raw. Just watch as the chef dismembers a small octopus before your eyes and seasons the pieces with sesame oil, if he can hit them that is, because many times they are still moving on the plate as you reach for your chopsticks.


Rocky Mountain Oysters


While them might be from the rocky mountains, they are certainly not oysters. They are actually bull-calf testicles – peeled, flattened, and deep fried, yum.


Kopi Luwak


One of the worlds most expensive varieties of coffee it can reach up to 150 USD per pound. It is made from coffee berry beans that have been defecated by Civets, small mammals native to Southeast Asia.




In indonesia they love these little stinkers. Supposedly though, they taste like bitter sunflower seeds without the salt. Chew quickly.




Usually eaten in Scandinavia this delicacy is made from aged stockfish and lye. Yes, lye. The corrosive alkaline substance also known as caustic soda is used to soak the fish for several days. After being removed from the lye the fish is so corrosive that it requires almost a week long bath of cold water just to become edible again.


Casu Marzu


Coming to us from Sardinia, this dish is best described as a sheep milk cheese containing live insect larvae. The scariest part? Although the larvae are only about 8mm long they can launch themselves up to 15cm when disturbed. Bon apetit!




Generally found on Mopane trees (hence the name), this caterpillar is an important source of protein for millions of people in Africa. Typically they are dried out and eaten as a crispy snack.


Tuna Eyeball


Fairly cheap, these can be found in most Japanese grocery stores for about 1 USD. It tastes something like squid and should be boiled prior to consumption. Once again, don’t forget to season.


Dried Lizards

Kitchen Wench

In some Asian cultures these are used for soup and sometimes they are infused with alcohol to extract medicinal properties. The process, however, supposedly takes years.

David Pegg


After helping found the United Nations, the United States, and United Airlines, David consigned himself to a transient life of writing lists and sleeping on park benches.

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  • Amanda C Owens

    Dang those Nordic countries just love their rotten fish…….

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  • angry swede

    about number 20.. it’s is called surströmming and nothing else. and it is probably the most disgusting thing you can eat. traditionally eaten with potatoe, sour cream, leeks and bread

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  • Hannah

    That is sooo gross I think people should stop killing so many animals I think I will stick with pizza

  • Hollus

    I don’t understand eating something alive. That just seems barbaric to me!

  • Hildegunn

    You could have added Norwegian ‘smalahove :P http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smalahove
    the smalahove looks that much more disgusting… though the taste is quite good:) (I’d gladly eat the meat… but not served as it traditionally is O_o…)

    As for the lutefisk (lye fish) – I’ve tasted it a few times – my granny loves it though – and most of all eating the eye balls… (which is well… maybe when I get old…? … or never…

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  • Hyeon jeong cho

    Hm… I suppose there are no bbundagies after all. <<actually I LOVE them
    Why do people hate these foods??
    I'd love to try one of these:p lol

  • FerretJohn

    It’s been said that humans are among the top five omnivores on Earth, but after looking at this I can safely say We’re #1!

  • bill

    i have had all of these and they are the nicest things i have ever eaten

  • kevin

    Being Scottish I always find it funny seeing haggis on these lists as its perfectly normal to me. The rest however, just seem horrid but like me it will just be normal.

  • Brian

    Some of it gross me out but again it is part of a country’s culture and identity, i’m not sure if i’m gonna try all of it but, like what Andrew Zimmern says ” If it looks good eat it!”

  • inndran

    It shows mankind would eat anything without concerning ecosystem , we being so cruel to animals. Shame on these ppls

  • Alice

    i think i will just stick with spaghetti for dinner tonight lol

  • Amanda

    You can’t just swallow sannakji whole either, you have to chew it. Otherwise the suckers will stick to your throat, and they will NOT let go. So you can suffocate or choke to death if you don’t fully chew that stuff.

  • Yaya-sama

    OMG i feel so sorry for the puffin. I love puffins. Hey there was’t Hawaiian boiled puppy. i haven’t tried it but i never will. The birds nest soup is actually healthy for you.

  • Santos

    i have eaten something like khash in Romania , it`s called “Racituri” , it`s made from pigs feet and ears and with pig grease and jelly

  • Nick

    Yak Penis? Sidistic foreigners. I understand that foods might be different in other countries but this is the most disgusting foods I’ve ever heard of.

  • Magda

    Where are polish tripe?????

  • Jaya

    those who like strange food, you should come to Cambodia. i’m sure you will find all kind of food that you would say “You Eat that”….

    #2 Balut – i don’t think it’s famous in Philippine, i went there and most of ppl scare it but you can find it everywhere in Cambodia, 99% of ppl in cambodia eat this one..it’s street food to us…Come and See

    • Nicolo

      i beg to disagree . yeah , maybe some of us filipinos don’t eat balut . but it’s very famous here in the philippines . a lot of us eat it here and it’s sold in every street . wealthy or commoners alike enjoy balut maybe just as much as cambodians do . maybe , when you went here , you talked to people who really don’t eat this . anyways , there’s no problem in that . i’m just saying that balut is very much appreciated in our country . :)

  • A Smith

    #21 How is this any stranger than eating oysters? In the U.S. is it quite common to eat “oysters on the half shell” which are live, raw oysters. You can’t eat them dead unless they are cooked.

    #25 How is this stranger than eating liver, which is an organ that filters toxins in the body? Yes, that’s right, eating liver is like eating the the organic equivalent of a sewage treatment plant.

    The rest of this list reeks of ethnocentrism and xenophobia.

    • Caleb Roberts

      Wow. Big words u learned from anthro 101. Is it true tho?