Disgusting Foods That Some Cultures Actually Love

It's amazing how the human palate varies so widely across the world. What may seem like the grossest dish ever for Americans can be another country's delicacy. Every country and culture around the world eats foods that are completely repulsive to others. Did you know most people in China think cheese is disgusting? That creamy, cultured, sometimes aged and smelly pasteurized lump of cow's milk is absolute heaven for most people in the U.S. and Europe.

This is a list of foods that are appalling to Americans but are loved by others. Check out this list, open your mind (and your mouth) and go try some new foods! You may thank me later. 

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    More commonly referred to as maggot cheese, this delightful Italian sheep's milk cheese is made and then placed outside for several weeks with a hole cut into the top of it. Cheese flies settle in, lay their eggs, and maggots begin to live in there. 

    The maggots eat the cheese, then excrete predigested fats, proteins, and sugars. In other words, they're fermenting it, making the cheese soft and full of flavor. 

    Now it's bad enough that there are maggots living in the cheese, but what's worse is that Italians believe that it's unsanitary to eat the cheese after the larvae have died, thus you must eat while they're still alive. And on top of that, they don't like their cozy home being disturbed and can jump up to six inches into the air when threatened. Therefore, diners must hold their hand over the cheese as they lift it to their mouths.

    Just think, that rotten, maggot-filled cheese you're about to put into your mouth may just jump up and hit you in the eye. Maybe they should equip all diners with some protective goggles?

    See what food aficionado Andrew Zimmern says about casu marzu:


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    Photo: uploaded by Justin Jones


    Stinkhead. The name itself is enough to turn most heads away from this dish, and unfortunately, it's pretty much exactly how it sounds. Natives to Alaska’s frozen and inhospitable environment know a thing or two about sustainability – and they don’t like to waste anything. 

    The most distinguishing thing about stinkhead is not that they're fish heads, but that they are buried in the ground and left to rot (the preferred posh foodie term here is "ferment") for weeks on end. And what’s worse, they love letting them rot into a congealed mush of funk and slime and then eat them like a mushy fish head gruel. 
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    Everyone loves a good boiled egg for breakfast. Crack and peel the shell, give it a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste, and dig in to that familiar and delicious taste and consistency. But what if it was a duck egg instead of chicken? And what if inside that creamy yellow yolk, there was a half-formed duck fetus, complete with fledgling feathers and beak?

    In Vietnam or the Philippines, this freak of embryonic nature is actually a common street food known as Balut.

    I grew up on a sort of hobby farm, and we had our own chickens and fresh eggs. Occasionally, an egg would sit in the coop a few days too long and when I’d crack it into the pan on a sunny Sunday morning, a small embryonic chicken would gloomp out of the shell and lie there sizzling in its own amniotic fluid. This experience was always gross, and a little bit sad, but I never, NEVER thought about eating the damn thing!

    I can only imagine the same thing happening to a young Vietnamese boy on his farm, and at first sight of that sad little malformed fowl fetus, he must have jumped into the air laughing and clasping his hands together with glee. Oh, what a treat! Let's boil the rest of them and sell them on the streets!

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    While the picture may not look so terrible, just wait until you hear what it is. A food native to Iceland hakarl is either Greenland shark or sleeper shark that's been gutted and beheaded and then buried in the ground for 6-12 weeks before it's hung to dry for several months. It's served in small cubes and a toothpick.

    It's also preferable to use rotten shark meat, as fresh Greenland shark meat is quite poisonous. If that's not enough to turn you away, the dish has a strong ammonia smell, like cleaning products, and first-timers are often advised to pinch their nose while eating it, as it usually induces gagging. 

    World traveler and host of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain claims hakarl was "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he's ever eaten.