From bugs to dirt to rotten animal parts, there sure are plenty of disgusting things to eat out there. You may think you've seen it all but we've complied a list of what we believe to be the five most disgusting, truly gut-wrenching, make-you-throw-up-in-your-mouth-a-little foods from all over the world.
Read on if you dare, this one isn't for the the faint of heart... And please, share your own gross-out in our comments section.
5. Chicha: the milk of chewed up, rotting corn
The ancient Incan brewers of chicha were young girls who went to special schools to learn the art of brewing. But that nice mental imagery doesn't make it final product any less gross. Chicha is often served at festivals and celebrations to foster a sense of community and because, hey, what makes you feel more connected with your neighbor than swapping spit?
To make the pale-yellow, milky drink women would first chew corn into a nice pulp and then spit the substance into a warm jar of water. It would be left to sit for a few days before being ready to drink as a mildly alcoholic beverage. In was considered rude to refuse to share the drink so visitors were told to at least sip the drink.
Boiled-alive fertilized duck embryo, anyone? Mmmmm -- after the jump.
4. Huitlacoche: corn fungus
The James Beard Foundation wants you to call it "Mexican corn truffles" but you say tomato, we say fungus. Cause that's exactly what it is.
Huitlacoche grows naturally on corn after periods of high moisture and rain. American farmers have generally gone out of the way to eradicate the fungus from crops, but in Mexico huitlacoche is harvested annually and cooked into quesadillas, tamales, soups and other "gourmet" dishes. This one you can try here in town.
3. Casu marzu: maggot-infested cheese
Those crazy Italians are at it again with this traditional sheep's milk cheese. No, its not on the list because cheese is made by curdling milk. Oh no, this is much worse.
Casu marzu takes fermentation to a whole new level. You might even call it decomposition --actually, you should. With the help of the digestive tracts of cheese flies, the fats in the cheese break down to produce a soft, liquid texture. But when do you know when it's reached the appropriate...ripeness? Well, it's too late when the little suckers are dead. That's right, you eat this stuff live maggots and all. Yummy.
Served in many Southeast Asian countries, balut is a dish of fertilized duck embryos boiled alive and eaten straight from the shell. In the Phillipines, the popular street snack's ideal gestation time is between 17 to 20 days before the animal's beak, feathers, and bones have fully developed.
1. Hakarl: cured Greenland shark (read on, it's worse than it sounds)
As if the whole Greenland being icy and Iceland being green thing isn't ridiculous enough, this Icelandic way of preparing the Greenland shark is just...insane.
The Greenland shark contains such high levels of uric acid (that's what we excrete in our urine) that it's actually poisonous to eat when fresh. To get around the inconvenient fact, Icelanders bury a gutted shark in a shallow hole, which they then cover with heavy stones that press the fluids out of the body. After a few weeks or months of curing, the shark is removed, cut into strips, and hung to dry for months before it's finally ready to eat.
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The fumes from hakarl have been compared to ramming bleach up your nostrils and Andrew Zimmerman called it "some of the most horrific things I've ever breathed in my life." Anthony Bourdain from Travel Channel's No Reservations thought it was the worst thing he's ever eaten.
You can buy hakarl in Icelandic supermarkets throughout the year so next time you're over there, try it if you dare.