Mexico – escamoles
If someone asked you what your favourite food was, the larvae of a venomous ant would probably not spring to mind. Escamoles are eggs from an ant, harvested from maguey plants in Mexico, which taste like a nuttier version of cheese. They are typically eaten as a side dish or inside a taco or burrito, so if you visit Mexico, make sure to check inside your wrap.
Japan – shirako
Shirako, in Japanese means ‘white children’ – you can probably guess the contents of this dish already… or perhaps not – it’s made up of puffer fish, or cod, sperm sacs. Looking exactly like the brains of a small animal, shirako can be eaten on their own, in an Asian-style salad or even inside a sushi roll. It’s spongy, chewy and tastes of custard.
The Philippines – balut
Balut is a partially developed fertilised duck embryo boiled and served in the shell with different seasonings, and if that doesn’t sound strange enough… the fertilised duck egg is usually eaten by tapping a hole into the top of the egg and sipping the liquid out, after which people crunch down on the bones, feathers and other parts. Delicious!
Kenya, Tanzania – cow’s blood
If you’re rather tired of your usual diet, here’s a drink that will tickle your taste buds… cow’s blood. The tradition originates from Maasai culture – generations of Maasai people would drink it whilst trekking long journeys through the desert, as it provided nutrients when there weren’t many other foods around. It’s also drunk on special occasions, during a circumcising ceremony or when a child is born.
Italy – casu marzu
Cheese is one of the greatest things in life and Italians have found a way to turn it into a delicacy – by making it taste even stronger. Casu marzu is cheese filled with larvae of cheese flies which then hatch and eat the cheese, whilst excreting. It’s this excretion which gives the cheese a distinct, strong taste, apparently making it taste similar to gorgonzola!
Cambodia – crispy tarantulas
It’s pretty obvious from the name what this delicacy is, fried tarantulas. This tradition began when people in Cambodia struggled for food and turned to frying tarantulas for nutrients. Usually served as a light snack or starter on their own with a side salad, the legs are said to taste like prawn tail, however the body has a softer, more meaty, middle and can be tough to chew all in one go.
Laos – white ant egg soup
White ant egg soup is a soup made up of young ants, ant embryos and ant eggs. It tastes very sour, and also a little of shrimp, which is fairly pleasant. The only downside, perhaps, is the thought of eating ant eggs.
Korea – sannakji
A typical Korean delicacy so raw, it’s still moving. Sannakji are raw octopus legs typically served on their own and brought to the table still wriggling on the plate, even though the octopus has been killed (it’s the nerve activity which makes them twitch). The trick is to throw them in your mouth swiftly, trying not to feel too terrible.