Exploring the world of culinary experiences can lead us to encounter various flavors, textures, and aromas. However, not every encounter with food leaves us longing for more. Certain dishes elicit such strong adverse reactions that they become unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
1. Century Eggs
Century eggs, or hundred-year eggs, are preserved eggs commonly eaten in some Asian countries. These eggs undergo a unique preservation process that involves soaking them in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks or months. While some find the taste and texture intriguing, others describe the experience as revolting. The gelatinous, translucent egg whites and the pungent, ammonia-like smell can be pretty off-putting, leading many to vow never to try them again.
Surströmming, a traditional Swedish delicacy, is fermented Baltic Sea herring. While fermentation is a common method for preserving fish, the intense odor and taste of surströmming make it notorious. The fish is canned and left to ferment for months, resulting in a putrid smell reminiscent of rotten eggs. The taste, often described as pungent and overpowering, has deterred countless brave souls from attempting another bite.
A popular street food in the Philippines, balut is a fertilized duck egg with a partially developed embryo. The egg is boiled and typically enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt or a dip in vinegar. However, sighting a partially formed duckling, complete with feathers, bones, and a beak, can be quite unsettling for many. The combination of different textures and flavors, including the rubbery egg white and the rich, gamey yolk, has led countless individuals to swear off balut forever.
Hákarl is a traditional Icelandic dish made from fermented shark meat. The process involves burying the shark for several months and allowing it to decompose, after which the meat is hung to dry. The result is a strong ammonia smell that can be overpowering for the uninitiated. The taste is extremely fishy and has been likened to a combination of strong cheese and ammonia. Few dare to take a bite of hákarl more than once.
Considered the “king of fruits” in Southeast Asia, the durian is infamous for its strong smell that has been likened to rotten onions or sweaty socks. The fruit’s custard-like flesh has a distinct, sweet taste, but the odor can be a major turnoff for many. The smell alone has led numerous people to declare that they would never subject themselves to the experience of eating durian again, despite its popularity in certain regions.
Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. While it is beloved by some, it is also one of the most polarizing foods in Japan. The slimy texture and strong aroma are off-putting to many individuals. The beans are sticky and produce long, stringy threads, making the experience of eating natto an acquired taste that not everyone is willing to acquire.
7. Black Pudding
Black pudding, a staple of British and Irish cuisine, is a type of blood sausage made from pig’s blood, suet, and a mixture of oats or barley. While the ingredients might sound unappealing to some, the taste and texture are what often dissuade people from trying it again. The pudding has a dense, crumbly texture and a distinct metallic flavor that can be off-putting to those unaccustomed to it.
8. Casu Marzu
Casu marzu, a traditional Sardinian cheese, takes the concept of fermentation to an extreme level. It is made from sheep’s milk and deliberately infested with live maggots. The larvae break down the cheese, resulting in a soft, creamy texture. While some consider it a delicacy, the sight of wriggling maggots and the strong ammonia-like smell make it an acquired taste that most people vow never to acquire again.
9. Fried Tarantulas
In certain regions of Cambodia, fried tarantulas are considered a delicacy. These large spiders are seasoned and deep-fried to create a crunchy snack. However, the thought of munching on a spider, with its hairy legs and distinct texture, is enough to make many people shudder. The taste has been compared to a combination of chicken and shellfish, but the fear factor associated with consuming arachnids is a major deterrent.
Stinkheads, a traditional Alaskan dish, are made by fermenting fish heads, usually from salmon, in a mixture of water, salt, and grass for several weeks or months. As the name suggests, the odor emitted during the fermentation process is incredibly pungent. The taste, described as sour and putrid, often lingers long after the first bite. It’s safe to say that the overpowering smell and unappetizing flavor prevent many from giving stinkheads a second chance.
This article was produced and syndicated by The Cents of Money.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.