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17 Weird Foods From Around the Globe

Learn about some of the most unusual foods that people actually eat in different countries around the world.

Every corner of the world has its regional oddities, such as weird sandwich toppings made or a casserole made with marshmallows. But I bet you haven’t seen anything as crazy as these foods. 

preserved egg

These foods come from all around the world, where innovation and creativity have led to some bizarre dishes. Though the dishes may seem outlandish at first, the history behind these dishes is often fascinating.

Many of these foods come from years of tradition, where people had to make do with what they had. So while you may find it weird, you may also consider trying it out yourself!

Unusual Foods

Join us as we cover 17 weird foods from around the globe. 


Century Egg

The Century Egg (also called Hundred-Year Egg or Thousand-Year Egg) is considered a delicacy in China.

The dish is commonly made with duck eggs, but chicken or quail eggs are sometimes used. Traditionally, the egg is covered in a paste made with ash, clay, burnt lime, salt, and rice hulls.

The mixture preserves the egg and is left for a few weeks or months. 

While the egg is left alone to age in the preservative mixture, a chemical process transforms the egg’s texture, color, and taste.

The egg white turns brown and takes on the consistency of gelatin, while the yolk becomes creamy and adopts a dark green color. The taste of a Century Egg is often described as a robust and earthy flavor. 


Surstromming

Surstromming is a Swedish dish that initially came from the 16th century.

The dish consists of herring from the Baltic Sea that is salted and fermented. Once the fish ferments for at least six months, it is packaged in metal tins (similar to sardines).

The fish continues to ferment in the metal tin, which the Swedish refer to as “souring.”

Surstromming is often called “rotten fish” due to its overwhelmingly foul smell. However, adding salt keeps the fish from genuinely rotting in a way that would be dangerous to the consumer. 

The third Thursday in August is called “Surstromming Day” in Sweden, when people eat the dish.

Surstromming is typically served with a piece of thin bread and topped with potatoes and diced red onions.


Casu Marzu

Casu Marzu is an Italian cheese made on the island of Sardinia.

The famous novelty is often known as “maggot-infested cheese.” The cheese isn’t maggot-infested due to unsanitary conditions, and the bugs are a necessary part of making this cheese. 

First, a sheep’s milk cheese (typically a pecorino) will be filled with eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, and the maggots begin to eat through the cheese.

The digestive enzymes of the larvae are left behind, and the cheese becomes very soft.

The cheese is consumed with the larvae, though these specific grubs are excellent jumpers, so the process of eating may involve maggots jumping from the cheese. 


Fried Spider

Fried Spider has become a popular regional snack for tourists and locals, particularly in the town of Skuon.

Many believe the practice of eating spiders in Skuon came from the lack of food during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Skuon is home to many species of spider, particularly those in the tarantula family, so starved residents likely turned to the abundant spider population for food. 

The Fried Spiders in Cambodia are typically large tarantulas. These tarantulas are coated in sugar, salt, and MSG and then deep-fried in crushed garlic oil.

The taste is described as bland; many eat it for its texture, which is crispy on the outside with soft, delicate white meat inside. 


Tuna Eyeballs

Tuna Eyeballs are a reasonably popular delicacy in areas of Japan.

The dish is often served at restaurants as a side dish or appetizer. Tuna Eyeballs can also be purchased at fish markets in Japan so that you can cook it your way. 

The Tuna Eyeballs are usually lightly sauteed with soy sauce and sesame oil when served in a restaurant.

People describe the taste as similar to a hard-boiled egg, with not much flavor but a wonderful texture.

The Tuna Eyeballs may also be served in a sought-after drink called “Tuna’s Tears,” made with Japanese soju and the eyeball’s lens. 


Chicken’s Feet

Chicken Feet are surprisingly common worldwide if you know where to look.

When farming chicken, many people don’t consider the feet a desired, edible product, so they are considered waste.

However, in many cultures, chicken feet are used regularly in many recipes and praised for their supposed health benefits. 

Commonly referred to as “phoenix claws,” chicken feet make their way into many Chinese dishes, typically deep-fried and seasoned or marinated and simmered.

In Korea, chicken feet are stir-fried and served with a hot chili sauce, while in Jamaica, the feet are considered a delicacy and are made into a soup.

Across the world, chicken feet have found their way into popular dishes. 


Frog Legs in France

Frog legs are considered a national delicacy in France. The dish is most popular in the areas of Eastern France, though the delicacy is regarded as a staple of French cuisine.

Traditionally, frog legs in France are prepared by sauteing the legs with butter, garlic, and parsley. 

Frog legs are also very popular in many Asian and European countries. In Spain, frog legs are deep-fried, and in China, frog legs are enjoyed in areas like Sichuan as a Cantonese dish.

In the United States, the French roots of Louisiana have led to popular cajun dishes involving frog legs. 


Wasp Crackers

Wasp Crackers, also known as Jibachi Senbei in Japan, are a type of rice cracker made with real wasps.

The rice cracker mixture is combined with dried digger wasps. The wasps are not broken down during this process so that you can see the whole bodies of wasps in the finished cracker, a part of their novelty. 

The Wasp Crackers have a surprisingly sweet and savory flavor, not that different from a regular cracker.

The taste of the wasps has been described as similar to a burnt and bitter raisin. Some people have an acquired taste for the snack and truly enjoy them, but they primarily exist as a novelty for tourists and locals to try.


Cuy Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are generally thought of as pets in the United States, but in Ancient Peru and Ecuador, these creatures were raised for their meat.

Indigenous groups in the Andes relied on the Cuy Guinea Pig as a source of meat, and many people have continued the tradition to this day. These Guinea Pigs are larger than those we think of as pets. 

Cuy Guinea Pigs are typically served whole, with just the intestines and organs removed.

Roasting or frying is the standard cooking method, and the taste is often compared to chicken. 


Hákarl

Hákarl, called fermented shark or rotten shark in English, is one of the national dishes of Iceland.

The dish uses Greenland sharks, whose meat is poisonous if eaten fresh. The fermentation and curing process makes the meat safe to eat. 

Traditionally, the shark is beheaded and gutted before being placed in a shallow hole.

The shark’s body is covered with sand and gravel, and heavy rocks are placed on top to encourage liquid to escape the body.

The shark is left there to ferment for six to twelve weeks. Once fermented, the shark meat is cut into strips and left to dry for months.

 Once the process is complete, the shark meat is cut into small pieces and sold as belly meat or body meat. 


Jellied Moose Nose

Jellied Moose Nose is a delicacy in Canada originating from the indigenous groups of the land.

Moose was common in the diet of indigenous groups as they were abundant in the area, and using the entire moose, nose included, would keep a family fed for weeks. 

The moose nose is first skinned or burnt with fire to remove the hair. The nose is then boiled and sliced into small bits.

The meat is simmered with onions and preferred spices (garlic, cloves, allspice, and mustard seeds). 

Many people also use other extra cuts of meat from the ears or lips with the nose meat.

Once the meat is cooked, it is placed in a pan and covered with broth. The result is a jelly sliced similarly to a loaf of bread. 


Hormiga Culona: Edible Fat-Bottomed Ants

Like many other edible insects, the Hormiga Culona (or fat-bottomed ants) were first eaten by indigenous groups merely as a form of high protein subsistence food.

Over time, these ants have become a popular street food snack, especially popular with tourists in Colombia. 

The ants are served crunchy and salty when sold as a snack, though some people will turn the insects into a gourmet meal, as many consider Hormiga Culona an aphrodisiac.

If you are familiar with roasted or boiled peanuts, these ants are prepared and eaten in much the same way. 


Locusts

Locusts are a type of grasshopper, often thought of in relation to “locust swarms.”

Many countries and areas in the Middle East are no strangers to these locust swarms, and some have used the abundant population as a high-protein snack source. 

Although the Torah does not allow the consumption of insects, there is an exception for locusts.

Because the locust population in Israel is enormous and these insects are considered kosher, Israel has become a popular place to try locusts for tourists and locals. 

The most popular method is to deep-fry the locust, as the outside becomes incredibly crunchy and can be flavored however you prefer.


Escargot

Escargot is the French word for snail. Edible land snails have been a popular food since ancient times, though the food grew particularly popular in France.

Helix Pomatia is the most popular species of edible snail in France. 

To cook snails, chefs must wash them many times to eliminate any snail slime that may be present. 

The snails are moved to a pot of cold water, turning the heat to maximum. The snails cook in the water for about 25 minutes, bringing them out of their shells and promptly killing them.

In gourmet restaurants, the snails are covered in butter flavored with butter, garlic, and thyme and then placed back in their shells. Individuals hold these shells similar to an oyster to eat the snails. 

Snails are actually considered a type of shellfish!


Mopane Worms

Mopane Worms were traditionally eaten as a high protein source in areas of food scarcity.

Now, the Mopane Worm is considered a delicacy in Southern Africa. The worms are the larvae of emperor moths and are harvested for food as giant caterpillars.  

The Mopane Worms are boiled and then dried to preserve them. Many people enjoy dried worms as a crispy snack, but it becomes a proper meal when the worms are rehydrated for cooking.

Popular ways of cooking Mopane Worms are to fry them or cook them with tomatoes, onions, and spices.

People will sometimes add mopane worms to specialty canned tomato or chili sauce to add flavor. 


Shiokara

Shiokara is a Japanese dish that can be made with many different sea animals, though squid is the most common addition.

The organs and guts of the sea animal are salted and fermented with malted rice to create this dish. 

The Shiokara is fermented for up to a month and then served on its own or with rice.

The taste is similar to anchovies, as it is very salty, but the texture is closer to raw seaweed or thin noodles. Shiokara variations other than squid include tuna, crab, oyster, or sea cucumbers. 


Witchetty Grub

Witchetty Grub refers to the larvae of the cossid moth, a large moth that feeds on wood.

The larvae feed on the common witchetty bush in Australia, which is how they got their name. The grubs are a part of the traditional diet of Aboriginal Australians. 

The Witchetty Grubs are high in protein and can be eaten either raw or cooked. The raw grubs taste like almonds, and the texture is quite soft.

When lightly cooked, the grubs taste like a mixture of shrimp and chicken, and the outside becomes very crispy. 

Check out other popular foods eaten in Australia!


Unusual Foods

  1. Century Egg (China)
  2. Surstromming (Sweden)
  3. Casu Marzu (Italy)
  4. Fried Spider (Cambodia)
  5. Tuna Eyeballs (Japan)
  6. Chicken’s Feet (East Asia, Caribbean, South America, and South Africa)
  7. Frog Legs (France)
  8. Wasp Crackers (Japan)
  9. Cuy Guinea Pig (Ecuador)
  10. Hákarl (Iceland)
  11. Jellied Moose Nose (Canada)
  12. Hormiga Culona: Edible Fat-Bottomed Ants (Colombia)
  13. Locusts (Israel)
  14. Escargot (France)
  15. Mopane Worms (Southern Africa)
  16. Shiokara (Japan)
  17. Witchetty Grub (Australia)

Final Thoughts 

Do you think you’ll take a chance at these weird foods on your next trip? Whether you’re considering trying an insect or two or want to learn more about the odd foods out there, I hope this guide has helped you. 

There are many ways to learn about the world, but food is one of the best ways to get an idea of culture. Your favorite homemade dish may be a part of your culture, and these weird foods result from years and years of history being made. 

If you don’t want to try these unusual foods, why not check out some of America’s weirdest restaurants instead!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.