Many food delicacies are regional; therefore, what one person enjoys, another may find totally repulsive. If you’re squeamish, beware! There are lots of regional specialties ahead, some are liable to make you wince!
Balut, also spelled balot, is a delicacy enjoyed across Southeast Asia. It looks like a boiled egg, but crack it open, and that’s where it all changes. Essentially, it’s a boiled duck or chicken egg that contains a partially formed embryo. Depending on where it’s prepared, the embryo is allowed to develop between 17 and 21 days. Suffice it to say, that’s long enough to recognize bones, feathers, feet, beaks and so much more.
The right way to “enjoy” balut, if one is able to enjoy it, is with squirts of lemon juice and seasonings, then slurp it up from the shell. Balut can contain many hazardous bacteria, including Salmonella.
There are ethical issues with boiling a living embryo that is old enough to experience pain. In many countries, embryonic birds that have reached this stage are protected.
Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese made from sheep’s milk. Cut it open, however, and you’ll discover hundreds of live maggots. In fact, the maggots will hop off of it while you’re eating it. Casu marzu aficionados eat the maggots with the cheese. In fact, they feel that the cheese isn’t safe to eat without them. You need to wear eye protection, though, because the maggots can jump up to 6 inches when disturbed.
Eating this cheese comes with a health risk – pseudomyiasis. With pseudomyiasis, you become the one being eaten! The worms can survive inside you and bore through your stomach and intestines.
Casu marzu is typically illegal. But if you’re really feeling adventurous, it’s easy to obtain from a “black market” peddler.
It’s likely people started eating fried spiders out of the desperate hope of avoiding starvation during the Khmer Rouge. It has since become a delicacy. The tarantula are fried until their legs are stiff and the contents of the abdomen are not too runny. Most of the meat and nutrition is in the head and body. The abdomen is filled with a thick brown gravy made up of excrement, organs and possibly eggs. As they explode all over your tongue, the creamy spider innards are said to taste like crab.
San-nakji is octopus, that is still alive when it’s cut into small pieces. It’s served with sesame seeds and sesame oil, and it’s still squirming on your plate when it reaches your table. Yes, you eat it while it is still alive. Sometimes, it’s served and swallowed whole.
This delicacy is made from a type of baby octopus, the nakji. The octopus does not always go down without a fight. In fact, its suction cups are active and can stick to your mouth or throat. Incidents have been reported of people choking while eating san-nakji.
Bat Paste / Soup
Bats are a native cuisine in Thailand, Guam, parts of China and other countries. Bat paste is commonly served and easy to make! Just throw a whole bat into a pot of water and boil until soft. Then, chop and mash into a paste with herbs and spices. Voilà! Bat paste!
Bat soup, a Palau Islands delicacy, is also made by throwing a whole, live bat into boiling water or milk, fur and all. You can eat the soup while its fuzzy little face stares back at you.
Both dishes are dangerous to consume and, in fact, can be fatal if you come down with some diseases bats are known to carry.