The Weirdest and Even Dangerous Foods in the World

The Hakarl – Iceland

The Greenland shark has a high concentration of urea in its blood which causes the shark’s meat to smell strongly of spoiled meat and leads to neurological effects similar to excess alcohol. Pictures by Pam Susemiehl/Getty

Hákarl, which means “shark” in Icelandic, is a traditional Icelandic dish. It involves letting the meat of a Greenland shark ferment, which has the particularity of not having a urinary tract and which therefore secretes its urine through its skin, fermenting it for four to five months under the gravel. So, to eliminate the uric acid contained in their meat and facilitate digestion, Icelanders let the meat rot for a long time. Once dug up, the meat is washed and left to dry in a hut for two to four months. Once the process is complete, the meat rind is removed and the remaining white meat is cut into small pieces and then served to the table. This dish has a reputation for smelling very strongly of cheese.

Casu marzu – Sardinia

Since 2005, Casu marzu has been banned from marketing in Europe due to hygiene and health risks. REDA&CO / Getty Images

Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese that is… seeded with maggots. Fly larvae are deliberately introduced into the cheese, which creates a very high level of fermentation, breaking down fatty acids thanks to their digestive actions. This fermentation gives the cheese a soft texture with a liquid, called “tear”. This cheese can be consumed with or without the larvae.

Casu martzu, which simply means “rotten cheese”, has been recognized by the Guinness World Record as the most dangerous cheese in the world. And for good reason: since 2005, Casu marzu has been banned from marketing in Europe due to hygiene and health risks. In fact, fly larvae are resistant to gastric juices and can thus remain in the intestine and cause injury when trying to escape through the intestinal wall.

Akutaq – Alaska

Ice cream in Alaska made from reindeer fat and meat. Matyáš Havel / Wikimedia Commons

Akutaq is an Alaskan version of ice cream. Instead of cream, Alaska Natives use fat from reindeer or caribou mixed with seal oil and meat, usually fish. Everything is mixed with fruit and gives it a foamy texture.

Haggis – Scotland

The ritual tasting of haggis, the famous stuffed sheep’s belly, is a true national dish. Pihunter/Getty Images

Haggis is a traditional dish in Scotland, which involves filling a sheep’s stomach with the sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, all mixed with oatmeal and boiled for three hours.

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Fugu – Japan

Sushi masters have learned over many years to prepare fugu without touching the liver or intestines. M. Simmons / Getty Images

This traditional dish in Japan is certainly the deadliest in the world. The fugu is actually a fish of the tetraodontidae family (fish with the ability to swell up in the face of an enemy) and contains in its liver tetradotoxin, a powerful neurotoxic poison, which can paralyze motor nerves and, in the most serious case, cause respiratory arrest leading to death. Its poison is 100 times stronger than cyanide.

Thus, sushi masters learn for several years to prepare this famous fish without touching the liver or intestines so that the poison does not spread in the net. But every year, hundreds of people die in Japan after eating poorly prepared fugu.

Prairie Oysters – Canada

Bull testicles, also called Rocky Mountain Oysters, are fried and then coated in flour. hmarvinaverett/Getty Images

Also known as Rocky Mountain Oysters, Prairie Oysters are simply a dish made from bull testicles. This dish is served in parts of Canada where cattle ranching is widespread and castration of young male animals is common. Once stripped, the testicles are fried, then coated with flour, pepper and salt.

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Balut – Philippines

Balut is a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell. violettenlandungoy / Getty Images

Balut is a culinary specialty originating in Asia and more particularly in the Philippines, China, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is simply a steamed duck, chicken or quail egg… but already incubated, with a fetus already formed. The broth that surrounds the embryo is drunk in small sips before the shell is completely peeled. The yolk and duckling can then be eaten. White, rubbery, is often overlooked.

Escamoles – Mexico

Escamoles are served in tacos with guacamole. Gianfranco Vivi/Getty Images

Escamoles are giant ant larvae, harvested from the roots of the agave (or “maguey”, the plant from which tequila or mezcal is made in Mexico). In some areas of Mexico, escamoles are considered a rare delicacy and are sometimes called “insect caviar”.

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