Different cultures often have unique foods as part of their local cuisine. However, people not accustomed to these foods or delicacies might not appreciate them. They might even consider them strange or unusual. For instance, gooseneck barnacles and geoducks look weird and visually unappealing. Some people may also think of sushi or haggis as weird foods. However, there are more unusual dishes than you might imagine. They may be rare and expensive delicacies in certain parts of the world. In this article, we will explore the top 30 weirdest foods from around the world and how to try them safely.
What Makes a Food Weird?
The definition of weird food is subjective and often based on personal experience. People may describe a certain dish as weird based on its unique flavor or texture or simply because it’s made from unusual ingredients.
For some, the mere sight of a certain dish can cause discomfort or even revulsion. Nasty food can range from fried tarantula and other bugs to organs from different animals. Of course, some foods are grosser than others depending on individual experiences with different dishes from around the world.
No matter what makes a food odd or unpleasant, it’s important to remember that people from other cultures appreciate it. What we consider weird might be another culture’s specialty. Therefore, people should respect these foods for their history and importance in their respective cultures. Although certain foods may be highly unusual or even repugnant, one should always keep an open mind when it comes to exploring new and different flavors.
Top 30 Most Weirdest Foods
1. Balut (Developing Duck Embryo)
Balut is a popular but unusual Southeast Asian delicacy. It is believed to have originated in the Philippines and is readily available in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and other South Asian countries.
But what exactly is balut? Balut is a fertilized duck egg that has been incubated for about 18 days. The egg contains a partially developed duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell.
Often enjoyed as a snack or starter, balut is prepared accordingly to taste preference, lightly salted or seasoned with garlic or vinegar. It is typically sold on the street and in markets. It is also best enjoyed while still warm. Although it is considered an acquired taste, balut is high in protein and low in fat.
2. Maasai Raw Cow Blood and Milk
The Maasai raw cow blood and milk is one of the weirdest foods. This traditional blood-milk mixture is from the Maasai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania. Usually, it is made by mixing raw cow blood with fresh raw milk.
It has an earthy, slightly metallic taste and is said to give a boost of energy that lasts for days. It is considered a delicacy and is still served among the Maasai tribe today.
Despite its unusual preparation, this drink is actually quite nutritious. It is packed with lots of iron and protein to keep hunger away.
Sannakji is another example of the weirdest foods eaten today. It is a Korean dish consisting of a small octopus that is served while still alive. It is often chopped into small pieces and seasoned with sesame oil and seeds. Considered a delicacy, it is usually served with a chewy texture, and much of the remaining tentacles still squirming.
Due to its delicate and unique texture, this dish has become a source of controversy in some countries, particularly as many people believe that the octopus is cruelly slaughtered without being stunned first.
Critics have highlighted the high levels of trauma that the small octopus experiences, often struggling for up to half an hour after being served. Despite the criticism and protests, sannakji remains popular in many Korean restaurants around the world.
4. Bird’s Nest Soup
Eating weird foods has become more popular lately. As such, one of the dishes that has attracted a lot of attention is bird’s nest soup. Made from the saliva of edible nest swiftlets, bird’s nest soup is one of the most expensive and weirdest foods you can find.
The nests are harvested and then used as the main ingredient in the soup. The process of obtaining the nest is considered to be dangerous and difficult. It requires specialized workers to climb high into the cave where the bird nest was built and collect it with their bare hands and tools.
Due to the difficulty in obtaining these nests, the price of a bowl of bird’s nest soup is about $30-$100. Sometimes, the soup may cost more depending on the local availability of the rare bird’s nests and the type of restaurant.
5. Termite Queen
A termite queen is also one of the weirdest foods you can eat. This strange delicacy is consumed by different cultures around the world. However, it is much less common than other food items. The termite queen can be found by digging an underground termite nest. The queen has a large white distended abdomen with a small head similar to that of a winged or flying termite.
It can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on personal preference. The flavor is very subtle and can be likened to a slightly nutty taste. It is an acquired taste, but it is definitely worth a try for the more adventurous foodie.
The termite queen is one of the most unusual and weirdest food items around. It is definitely worth trying at least once. It is high in protein. The slight nutty flavor makes it a great addition to various dishes.
The best way to cook a termite queen is by frying it in oil with a light sprinkle of spices to add flavor. While it is not the most appetizing food, it can still provide a great eating experience.
6. Beating Cobra Heart
Cobra heart is a dangerous delicacy eaten in some cultures in Southeast Asia. It is derived from the beating heart of a cobra, usually taken during a ritual or ceremony. The heart is removed from the live cobra and eaten while still beating.
Cobra heart is known for its bold and intense flavor. It is said to have a strong, earthy taste. Eating the heart can be an intense experience for those unfamiliar with the food. It can also be eaten with accompaniments, such as sauces, herbs, and spices, to give it a more rounded flavor.
7. Snake Gallbladder
One of the more unusual foods that many consider delicious is the snake gallbladder. Sourced from various snake species, the tiny organ is an ingredient in several dishes served in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisines.
Believed to have medicinal benefits, snake gallbladders are served sliced and diced and cooked with various ingredients in a wide range of dishes. Some are even said to have a sweet taste that can surprise even the most courageous eaters.
The texture of the gallbladder does make this an acquired taste, but for those willing to surprise their taste buds with this unusual food, snake gallbladders make a strange but delicious treat.
Many diners have embraced this weird food and the unique flavor it brings to the table. While it may not be the first choice for a night out in a restaurant, snake gallbladders are a unique addition to the various weird foods that taste good.
However, an improperly consumed snake gallbladder may cause pentastomiasis, a tongue worm infestation, as was the case with a 13-year-old boy with hundreds of live parasites in his liver, lungs, kidneys, and intestines. There is also evidence linking snake gallbladder ingestion to liver injury and kidney failure.
8. Stink Bugs
Stink bugs (Encosternum delegorguei Spinola) are considered one of the strangest foods people try. Native to Central and South East Africa, these edible insects have a strong yet pungent odor.
In their raw form, they have a crunchy texture and a salty taste. They are usually boiled or stir-fried with vegetables before eating and are most commonly served as a snack.
Stink bugs are a strange but delicious food to try and can be enjoyed in various recipes. They are high in proteins and essential fatty acids, making them a healthy alternative to other snacks.
For an extra special dish, they can also be added to soups or salads for a unique flavor. Some people even enjoy eating them cooked in a casserole or fried in oil with garlic and chili peppers. Whatever way they are eaten, stink bugs are one of the most popular protein sources in some rural communities in southern Africa.
9. Fried Tarantulas
Insects are one of the weirdest foods to try if you’re on the hunt for some unconventional cuisine. These little critters are a popular snack in many parts of the world. A good example is fried tarantulas.
Fried tarantulas are an unusual snack often eaten in Southeast Asia. It originates from Cambodia, where spiders, particularly tarantulas, have been fried and consumed for hundreds of years. These large, hairy arachnids are found in abundance in the wild in Cambodia. They are captured using long wooden sticks. Once cooked, they are often eaten as a snack or an appetizer.
The tarantulas are fried with garlic and salt, giving them a crunchy texture and savory flavor. Many people who have tried fried tarantula report a slightly sweet and nutty taste, although the flavor varies depending on how it has been cooked. Fried tarantulas are also gaining in popularity in other parts of the world, with some adventurous eaters actually looking forward to trying the dish.
Hákarl is an Icelandic fermented dish consisting of shark meat that has been cured in a fashion similar to cheese. The shark meat comes from the Greenland shark and is cured for several months, often hung or buried until it is fermented. After the fermentation process is complete, the shark meat is cut into strips and served with a few side dishes.
The origin of hákarl dates back to the Viking era, when hunting sharks was a common practice. The meat was traditionally cured in a remote peat bog to reduce the shark’s toxic effects. This traditional preparation method is still used today and is believed to bring out the fullest flavor of shark meat. Hákarl has remained popular in Iceland and is served during special occasions and parties.
11. Century Egg
Century egg, also known as a hundred-year egg, is a Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks or months. It has a unique appearance, smell, and taste. The traditional Chinese believe that century egg is rich in nutrients and has medicinal properties.
Studies have shown that century egg is a good source of protein, fats, sodium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium. It is also low in sugar and carbohydrates. Regular consumption of century eggs can improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. The antioxidants present in a century egg also help protect cells from damage due to free radicals promoted by pollution and unhealthy lifestyles.
12. Frog Soup
Frog soup is a type of soup typically made of frog legs, which are commonly eaten in Chinese, French, and Thai cuisine. It can also be made with other types of meat, such as chicken, pork, or beef.
The soup is served hot with added spices and herbs such as ginger, scallions, and garlic to bring out the flavor. In Chinese culture, frog soup is considered a specialty dish offered in the growing number of restaurants specializing in frog dishes.
The origin of frog soup is unclear. However, it likely originated in China due to the historical popularity of frog legs in Chinese cuisine. In France, frog soup has been a part of traditional cooking for centuries. It is often served as a main dish.
Frog soup is also popular in other parts of Asia, such as Vietnam and Thailand. The popularity of frog soup has spread beyond the Asian continent and is now available in some restaurants in the United States.
13. Thai Dancing Shrimp
Among the list of strange foods bold diners enjoy around the world, only a few are as unique as Thai dancing shrimp. This dish ranks among the grossest and weirdest foods humans eat; live, writhing shrimp are served in a variety of spicy sauces.
Utterly bizarre, the movement of the shrimp in the hot sauces is the main feature that has made this regional dish so popular. Diners are expected to use their chopsticks to pick up the shrimp and put them in their mouths while they are still alive. Aptly called Thai dancing shrimp, this dish is one of the most unusual culinary experiences in the world.
Escamoles is traditionally a Mexican dish prepared by sautéing ant larvae in butter or oil. It is sometimes also referred to as “insect caviar”. These larvae, which come from the ant species Liometopum, are harvested from underground chambers of agave and maguey plants. They possess a nutty, buttery flavor that is sought-after in the culinary world.
Escamoles can be cooked in a variety of ways, but the most popular methods involve sautéing the larvae in butter or oil. Other preparation methods may include boiling or roasting. Once cooked, the larvae can be used in tacos, omelets, quesadillas, and other dishes. The flavor is likened to that of a white bean or corn kernel, making it an ideal addition to a number of dishes.
15. Odori-Don (Dancing Squid Rice Bowl)
Odori-Don, or dancing squid rice bowl, is a Japanese delicacy found in sushi restaurants all over the world. Despite its deceivingly strange name, this dish is one of the most delicious and unique dishes out there. At first glance, the sight of a raw squid over rice may seem off-putting, but odori-don breaks that traditional sushi mold and offers a unique and flavorful entrée.
The rice forms a delightful bed for the sweet teriyaki sauce, and the sweet, melted onions are a great accompaniment to the squid. Also, the squid’s tentacles are still twitching, hence its name. The squirming tentacles make odori-don one of the weirdest foods in the world.
16. Mosquito Hamburgers
Another example of the weirdest foods from around the world is the mosquito hamburgers. Though the name itself suggests something fascinating, it is something that you should definitely look forward to. It is said that these burgers are made with a mixture of chicken, pork, medlar, ground spices, and mosquito larvae. They are then fried in a pan and served with rice. The flavor and texture of this dish is unique – it is a bit crunchy yet very flavorful.
Mosquito hamburgers are served in a variety of ways, depending on the region. It can be served on a bun, with vegetables, and even on a tortilla. The ingredients are unique, combining pork, chicken, and mosquito larvae. It is fried to perfection, creating a unique taste sensation that is something you rarely come across. The taste is a combination of crunchy and sweet, making them one of the weirdest foods to try.
17. Casu Martzu (Maggot Cheese)
Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian cheese created by leaving pecorino cheese out in the open and infesting it with cheese flies. This results in the cheese developing a liquid form of texture.
To prepare casu marzu, the cheese is left outside of a woven basket to draw the cheese fly larvae. Once the cheese has been infested, the larvae continue to eat away at the fats of the cheese, fermenting it further and resulting in a soft, liquid-like texture. The cheese is then served with a salt-rimmed plate, crackers, and red wine.
Due to the larvae, casu marzu is actually considered to be illegal in some parts of the world and is sold on the black market. As consuming this cheese can be dangerous, the larvae should be consumed live and not squished. Eating the cheese when the larvae are dead can cause health issues – nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain are common aftereffects. It is highly advised that the cheese is consumed when the larvae are still alive.
18. Beondegi (Silkworm Pupae)
Beondegi is a snack made from silkworm pupae and is widely considered one of the most unusual and weirdest foods out there. It is a dish originating in South Korea and has many variations. However, it is often grilled or boiled.
Despite its slightly gross appearance and pungent smell, it is one of the most beloved snacks in South Korea. It is often recommended for people seeking to try the grossest foods. Its somewhat sweet and nutty flavor, with a crunchy texture, has made it popular among adventurous foodies.
Lutefisk is a traditional Nordic food made with dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution, resulting in a jelly-like consistency. The fish is reconstituted in cold water, and then boiled. It is served as a main course or side dish. Lutefisk is a centuries-old Scandinavian Christmas and holiday staple. It is a very polarizing dish, with many people loving it and just as many loathing it.
The origin of lutefish dates back to the Viking age, with some sources claiming that it dates back to the 12th century. The method of treating salted cod with lye is thought to have been adopted by the Scandinavians in the 11th century from a similarly preserved fish eaten by 10th and 11th-century Norsemen. There is also archeological evidence of lutefisk being eaten in Norway as early as the 16th century.
20. Tamilok (Woodworm)
Woodworms are also one of the weird foods people try today. They have become a delicacy in some countries, boasting a mild, semi-sweet taste. Woodworms have a crunchy texture and are relatively high in protein. Despite being a weird food, many people consider them to be quite delicious. They can be cooked with various seasonings or just eaten as-is.
Many cooks have created creative ways of adding woodworms to more mainstream dishes, like salads, omelets, and soup. Woodworms are one of the strange foods that taste good. For a unique culinary experience, consider adding woodworms to your next meal. They have a mild flavor that pairs nicely with a variety of seasonings. With the bonus of being very high in protein, there’s no reason not to give them a chance.
21. Palm Weevil Larvae (Palm Tree Worms)
Palm weevil larvae or palm tree worms are among the weirdest foods in the world. These larvae, which look similar to small worms, are harvested from the cavities of palm trees and then washed and cooked in a variety of ways to create a delicious dish.
Palm weevil larvae dishes have been described as one of the weirdest foods because of their highly unusual ingredients. However, their popularity is growing in many cultures around the world. The larvae are better in protein, zinc, fats, and iron content than some more conventional sources.
They can be served as a side dish or as a main course. They can be fried, boiled, or roasted and paired with anything from beer to a salad, making them a great option for those looking to try something new.
22. White Grub
Another example of the weirdest things people eat is a white grub. It is a strange delicacy found in many parts of the world and is considered one of the weirdest foods around. This food consists of the larvae of certain beetle species, which are harvested from trees and cooked like other kinds of grubs.
Although it may sound unappetizing, many consider it delicious. It is said to have a tender, creamy texture and a nutty flavor when cooked. It is rich in protein, fat, and essential minerals, making it an excellent source of nutrition. White grubs are usually enjoyed roasted, boiled, or even raw, depending on where they are found.
23. Buffalo Poop Soup
If you’re adventurous enough to try the weirdest foods, you can start with buffalo poop soup (luu piea). This exotic dish originates from the Mien people of southern China and can be found in some restaurants. The soup is made by mixing parts of the buffalo—including its excretions—in a soup base. It has a distinct flavor due to its contents, but it can take time to get used to it.
When eating buffalo poop soup, it is important to remember certain things. For example, always ask for a freshly prepared dish to ensure its quality. Also, make sure to purchase the soup from a reliable source. However, its unique flavor makes it worth trying, allowing you to enter the weirdest foods club.
Fugu is a Japanese dish made from a pufferfish. This delicacy is highly sought after due to its unique flavor and a slight stimulating effect on the taste buds. The pufferfish species used are mainly of the genus Takifugu, commonly known as the tiger pufferfish.
Other species of pufferfish are also used. For example, Fugu rubripes are found around the Japanese island of Kyushu. These fishes contain a powerful toxic substance called Tetradotoxin. As such, they must be prepared carefully and correctly to avoid contamination with the deadly toxin.
25. Mopane Worms
Mopane worms are caterpillars found in the African savanna that feed on the mopane tree. This species of worm, which can grow up to 5 cm in length, is a major source of nutrition for humans in the regions where they are found. Mopane worms are typically canned before they are consumed. They are high in protein and can be roasted or boiled before eating.
Consuming mopane worms is considered a delicacy in some cultures. Dried mopane worms are often used to flavor soups or stews. In some areas, they are served raw or fried. Some cultures believe mopane worms have medicinal properties and are used to treat a variety of ailments. Mopane worms have become increasingly popular in recent years, leading to a rise in demand and price.
26. Grilled Bee Honeycomb with Larvae
When it comes to strange foods you can try, grilled bee honeycomb with larvae is definitely one of the more unusual. This weird food is an acquired taste, but those who like it truly enjoy it.
The larvae are fried in oil, giving off a crunchy texture and an interesting flavor that differs from more traditional Western cuisine.
It is said to be one of the grossest foods in the world. However, the honeycomb also gives the dish a unique sweetness. This unusual food is popular among foodies looking for a new experience, and those who give it a try may be pleasantly surprised.
27. Raw pig’s blood soup
Another good example of the weirdest things people eat is raw pig’s blood soup. This infamous dish is one of the grossest foods ever. It is found in Cambodia and ranks among the weirdest foods in the world.
The unique combination of pig’s blood, bamboo shoots, and fish sauce come together to create an oddly delicious meal. Thus, raw pig’s blood soup is one of the most delicious foods to try for those who can stand its unpleasant appearance.
Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made of sheep organs, oatmeal, and spices. The ingredients are mixed together, then cooked and served inside a sheep’s stomach. This dish is usually served with mashed potatoes and a turnip pudding called ‘neeps and tatties.’
Before cooking, the sheep meat, heart, and lungs are finely minced while the liver is sliced into small cubes. The diced onions, oatmeal, suet, salt, and spices are added. The mixture is put inside the sheep’s stomach.
It is then cooked in a pot or oven for up to three hours. Haggis is often served on Burns Night, a traditional celebration of Robert Burn’s poetry in Scotland. It is an iconic dish that embodies the country’s spirit and culture.
Chitterlings, a dish originating in the Southern United States, are the small intestines of a pig and typically served as a stew. This version of chitterlings is also known as chitlins, chittlins, or chitlings and is often served during the holidays, especially in areas of the South. The dish can also be deep-fried with seasonings to make chitterling strips.
The exact flavor of chitterlings can vary depending on the seasonings used. It has a strong but gamey flavor with a rich aroma. The texture may also vary from firm and chewy to tender and crumbly. Chitterlings may be served as a main dish or used as an ingredient in other dishes. It is usually served with other vegetables and complementary sauces.
Cuy is a South American dish popular in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. It is prepared using a whole guinea pig in an oven. Traditionally, the guinea pig is marinated overnight in a combination of garlic, herbs, and spices before being roasted. The traditional way of serving it is called al palo, meaning “on the stick.” In this method, the guinea pig is cooked on a stick over an open fire and garnished with potatoes and peanuts.
However, cuy can be prepared in a variety of ways. For instance, cuy al horno is prepared by stuffing the guinea pig with breadcrumbs before boiling and then baking it. Cuy chactado is another common recipe. In this version, the guinea pig is fried with garlic, onions, and other ingredients. Cuy sudado is also a popular soup-like dish prepared with cuy, potatoes, corn, onions, and sometimes bacon. The cuy can also be prepared as part of a cazuela, a stew-like dish that mixes different meats and vegetables.
How to Try Weird Foods Safely
When it comes to trying the weirdest snacks, it is important to exercise caution. Start by tasting a small portion of the food, as it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are in an unfamiliar environment, ask someone knowledgeable about the food or do some research beforehand. Make sure to ingest only recognizable food and avoid anything suspicious. Additionally, follow proper food safety practices and inspect the snacks for freshness before consumption.
It would be best if you also researched the origins of the food before deciding to try it. It is important to be familiar with the cultural context of the food, as this can provide insights and understanding of the cuisine. Markets and street stalls are often ideal for trying these unusual finds, as they are often much less expensive and may even offer more authentic dishes. Be sure to carry a bottle of water and watch out for any signs of allergies or food-related illnesses.