The Most Unusual Delicacies From Around The World
Have you ever heard of a dish made with fertilized duck eggs or fermented shark? Or maybe you’re familiar with these, but have you tried them? From century eggs to fried tarantulas, there are many unusual delicacies from around the world that can make even the most adventurous eater hesitate. Read ahead and explore some of the most unusual delicacies from different corners of the globe!
Balut – Philippines
Balut is a popular snack in the Philippines, made with fertilized duck eggs that have been boiled for around 20-30 minutes. The result is a partially developed embryo that is eaten straight from the shell. The texture is similar to a hard-boiled egg, but the flavors are more intense and the yolk and embryo provide a unique taste and texture. Balut is often seasoned with salt, vinegar, or chili, and is considered a protein-rich snack. Some say it’s a good aphrodisiac. Others would just rather not see what they’re eating; even those who love the taste often don’t linger on the developing duck and vein-lined yolk!
Hákarl – Iceland
Hákarl is a traditional Icelandic dish made with fermented shark meat. The process of making hákarl involves burying the shark meat underground for several months, then hanging it to dry for several more months. The result is a pungent, ammonia-flavoured meat that is often eaten with a shot of Icelandic schnapps to help cut the strong taste. Fermented shark is readily available in Icelandic stores and may be eaten year-round, but is most often served as part of a þorramatur, a selection of traditional Icelandic food served at the midwinter festival þorrablót. Those trying it for the first time are often advised to pinch their nose, as the smell can make you gag!
Century eggs – China
Century eggs, also known as preserved eggs or thousand-year eggs, are a Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice straw for several weeks to several months. The process causes the yolk to turn a dark green or black color, while the white becomes gelatinous and translucent. The flavor is described as rich and savory, with a slightly salty taste. It’s commonly eaten with congee, a Chinese rice porridge, along with soy sauce or sesame oil. It may not be understood in western culture, but it’s a very common food in Asia.
Escamoles – Mexico
Escamoles are the edible larvae and pupae of ants that are found in the roots of the agave plant in Mexico. The larvae are harvested before they pupate and due to their delicate, palatable flavor, escamoles are often prepared simply, fried in butter with onion and chili, and then wrapped in corn tortillas and served in tacos. The taste is often compared to cottage cheese or a nutty, buttery flavor. Today, escamol is a trendy item on upscale tasting menus in Mexico City, but the fervor predates the Hispanic era. Before the Spanish landed in present-day Mexico, indigenous people ate escamoles as a source of protein. Aztec emperors dined on the same desert caviar over 800 years ago, and there are ancient tales of feasts with escamoles on the menu to prove it.
Fried tarantulas – Cambodia
People with arachnophobia, look away now! Fried tarantulas are a popular snack in Cambodia and are often sold by street vendors. The spiders are bred in holes in the ground in villages north of Skuon, or foraged for in nearby forestland, before being cleaned and seasoned with a mixture of sugar, salt, and garlic, then deep-fried until crispy. The legs and body are said to be crunchy, while the abdomen is soft and creamy. It is not clear how this practice started, but some have suggested that the population might have started eating spiders out of desperation during the years of the Khmer Rouge rule when food was in short supply.
These are just a few examples of the many unusual delicacies from around the world. While some of these dishes may sound bizarre or even unappetizing to some, they are considered to be traditional or even gourmet cuisine in their respective countries. Whether you’re a daring foodie or just curious, trying out these unusual delicacies can be an adventure in itself.
Written by Lucy Kaufmann