The world is teeming with people with a thousand nutrition recommendations. They give you a thousand tips to tell you what to eat , because it is delicious or good for your health , your well-being and your beauty . For once, we decided to go against the trends and tell you about unusual , because disgusting, food experiences.
Did you think that the word “ meal” was synonymous with a moment of sharing , of conviviality? Are you convinced that a good dinner can break down many boundaries between cultures? However, if we gathered people from diametrically opposed cultures around a table and each brought a dish , it would be very difficult to taste everything as a token of politeness . Indeed, what is delicious to some is simply disgusting to others. The taste appreciation of a food is ultimately very dependent on its proximity to the eating habits of the country in which we live.
Let's embark on a most unusual culinary journey over 14 days...What will be your reaction? We will spare you the photos that the most curious will seek out on their own...
1. Departure of the trip: France with dairy products
I can already hear you saying, “What? Dairy products ? It's not strange AT ALL! No point in this article.” Indeed, if you are from France or North America for example, the credo “5 dairy products per day” is anchored in your brain forever. It is clear to you that they are essential to keep you in good health . And yet, you will be surprised to learn that for some, from other countries, such as Japan, drinking milk or consuming its derivatives is simply revolting. Already, their culture has not accustomed them to this type of product, whether it is milk , butter or cheese . Indeed, culturally, these products are associated with cow excrement and not with food . It therefore seems unlikely to consume them, especially since most Japanese people are lactose intolerant.
This first example perfectly represents the cultural subjectivity that operates when we find ourselves faced with food .
2. Stopover in Sardinia: casu marzu or “rotten cheese”
Let's stop in Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy. There, you will find a pressed Italian cheese cooked with sheep's milk , better known as pecorino . During the preparation of this famous cheese , during the maturation process, the locals add Piophila casei larvae , the cheese flies . These living transparent white worms will ferment the cheese and break down the fat cells until a final stage: when the cheese takes on a runny and creamy appearance. The most refractory will say rather viscous and moving . It was then that the cheese changed its name and became casu marzu , which means “ rotten cheese ” in Corsica. Because Corsica also offers this most astonishing specialty . And yet you are not at the end of your surprises since you can imagine that when it is time to taste, thousands of 8mm long maggots invite themselves onto the plate and into your stomach . Be careful, however, to hide your face with your hands before taking a bite because these little creatures are fabulous jumpers and can reach 15 cm in height. A real risk if one of them lands in your eyes . It is also because of this marked risk that this unusual cheese is banned for sale in the European Union. Taste- wise , some have described it less than glowingly as "perfect rot and decay flavor with a lingering note of vomit ".
3. Stopover in Scotland: Haggis a stomach-churning treat
Let's stop in Scotland to taste a traditional Scottish dish: haggis . You'll probably be put off by its appearance, but what haggis lacks in appearance it makes up for in taste. But what is it, then ? It is a sheep's belly stuffed with sheep offal (particularly heart and liver ), oats , onions, salt and spices . Everything is then boiled for 3 hours before serving with mashed potatoes or turnips and salty biscuits. As strange as it may seem, this is a true culinary masterpiece. Its succulent taste of meat and oats , its soft and crumbly texture and its local flavor with a rustic and spicy touch make it the subject of culinary fascination .
But what the heck is the point of wrapping all that offal in stomach ? It is in fact a historical way to preserve meat , these parts being particularly fragile. That's the official reason. The unofficial explanation is that it is easier to play Haggis toss when the stuffing is properly wrapped in the belly . Because yes, beyond being a dish, haggis also takes place in Scottish sporting competitions . A busy life, we could even talk about putting the digestive system into abyss with a stomach in your stomach .
4. Stopover in Sweden : Surtrömming has a bad smell
We are packing up in Sweden to go fishing for Baltic herring , which is generally done in spring. The fish are then given a small shower before salting them and placing them in open containers for several months. Enough to make the European Food Safety Agency pale! During these months in the open air, the fish is " eaten " by its own enzymes and bacteria which transform its carbohydrates into acids . Examples include propanoic acid with its pungent odor , butyric acid with the smell of stale butter and acetic acid . From this chemical fermentation process also emanates hydrogen sulfide with the smell of rotten eggs . A veritable cocktail of pestilential odors ! Fermentation continues in a tin can until the end of August . It is at this time that we can begin to taste this unusual dish . Sometimes, die-hard fans will prefer the previous year's vintage , considering that this specialty improves with time. In all cases, opening the box requires a thousand precautions because the fermentation has created a strong pressure inside the container which has bulged. You must therefore open it outside, in a basin of water. You will also be happy not to open it inside your house because of the vile smell that emanates from it. Once you get past the olfactory unpleasantness , the taste would be absolutely divine . Accompanied by a slice of buttered polar bread, potatoes and chopped onions. Then quench your thirst with milk or beer.
5. Stopover in Iceland : the Hakarl, a remake of Jaws
Go to Iceland where sharks will scare you away, not with their ferocious jaws adorned with a few hundred teeth, but with their smell . We are not talking here about the sharks which roam the waters in search of fresh blood. We are talking about fermented sharks buried in the sand which will then be used as a meal . I can see your astonishment and your questions from here. The Icelanders actually go shark fishing . But once captured, it is impossible to eat the sharks as they are at the risk of poisoning. Indeed, the shark's body contains high quantities of urea and other chemical compounds making it impossible to consume it fresh. This is why the locals, after gutting and heading the sharks , bury them in a shallow hole dug in the sand . He then covers the "grave" with sand and stones and leaves the chemistry to act for 6 to 12 weeks . Fermentation will gradually transform the urea into ammonia and therefore make the poison disappear. Once fermented, time for drying , a stage which lasts several months. To finish, cut into small pieces and shape into cubes on toothpicks . Let yourself be seduced by the absolutely terrible and sickening smell of pure ammonia that emerges, then it's time to taste it!
6. Stopover in Greenland: Kiviak, open day in the seals for the penguins
For the greatest pleasure of your taste buds , we are going to Greenland where an Inuit will tell you the secret recipe of a traditional dish . To do this you will need: a large, fat seal , around 500 penguins ( seabirds to be more precise), something to sew ( thread and needle ) and a large stone. There, you say to yourself, what delicious dish am I going to cook? Surprise ! He prefers to first explain the recipe to you to make your mouth water. It is very simple. Start by emptying the seal , removing everything inside. Then fill the carcass with all the penguins you have on hand. No need to add difficulty, you can leave them beaks, legs and feathers, it adds flavor . It's time to prove your sewing skills. Take out a thread and a needle and sew the seal skin with your finest stitch to close it around the penguins without letting any air pass through. You have to press it at the same time so that the penguins are packed like sardines without interstitial air. Stay pressed on the animal and seal the suture using the fat you removed from it. This is a beautiful airtight seal . To suffocate it well, place a large stone on it, so the air content in the seal will be greatly limited. Do not invite your family to eat right away because the fermentation time is long. 7 months and it's ready! Beautiful fermented penguins. Remember to remove beaks and feathers before eating them, they can scratch your throat. Little tip: by removing the bird 's head, you will be able to better access its liquefied contents. Bring a straw for the children.
So, what do you think of this 100% cruelty-free Greenlandic recipe ? (irony of course). There is suspicion about the exoticism of tasting such a dish after the death of tourists in August 2013. Already, the ardor of local cooks had already been cooled in 1933, when Knud Rasmussen, a local celebrity , died suddenly of food poisoning after consuming Kiviak...
7. Stopover in Southeast Asia : Durian, the forbidden fruit
We arrive in Asia , at the foot of an immense tropical tree where very large prickly nuts called Durians grow. In appearance, this fruit is nothing exceptional, but it contains a dark secret... Once the shell is broken, it reveals 5 seeds coated in a filamentous flesh and....OH MY GOD WHAT A TERRIBLE SMELL . Some describe it as the smell of a decomposing corpse, carrion , putrefaction , sewage , vomit , skunk ...And the derogatory terms are numerous! For your information, this is the first fruit prohibited in public transport , in hotels and in many public places . But why such unbearably horrible odors ? The fruit actually produces a lot of volatile sulfur compounds that are very odorous . Despite the olfactory abomination around this fruit, it is nonetheless considered the king of fruits by Asians, with its delicate flavors and its pulp with the taste of custard flavored with almond. It would have almost magical properties on health .
8. Stopover in China : the little mice drink the cup
Are you a die-hard animal lover? So you will hate this drink which goes completely against the cruelty-free trend which continues throughout Europe. So we landed in China , the land of unusual foods . In France , for example, to prepare wine , we use grapes . The Chinese, for their part, have their own way... They make it from rice wine then immerse baby mice in it before they open their eyes. The little mice bathe in it for several months until they are whitened by the alcohol . The wine is then ready to be tasted and there is no question of removing the little beings resting inside. It seems that this drink is not even very good, but it is appreciated for its medicinal virtues : it is said to cure asthma, skin conditions and liver problems.
If you are a fan of animal -infused drinks , take a trip to Vietnam where venomous snake wine is very popular.
9. Stopover in South Korea : Sannakji, a sprawling dish
Short stopover in South Korea to discover Sannakji . This is a whole octopus – a baby octopus more precisely, because it is more tender – served raw and seasoned with sesame oil and sesame seeds . The dish could almost seem normal except that... The baby octopus is ALIVE . Its tentacles are still moving when the plate arrives. And be careful to chew carefully, because the suction cups can get stuck in the walls of your mouth or throat and cause you to choke. Bon appetit mortal!
10. Stopover in Japan : Fugu, fish or poison?
Ah, Japan is its culinary specialties ! Did you know that you can taste Fugu there? It is a “hedgehog” fish , round with spines. Its appearance is off-putting, especially since it is poisoned (tetrodotoxin). Single-handedly, he can kill up to 30 men with a single blow. If you try it, it will only be in a large restaurant, because only renowned chefs can prepare it according to very strict rules to remove the poison . At your own risk because a single wrong step and this dish can trigger paralysis or even death!
11. Stopover in Taiwan: the hundred-year-old egg, the local ancestor
Brief stop on the island of Taiwan to taste a hundred-year-old egg. Its name suggests it's an egg left behind by your ancestors, but that's not the case. He certainly has a musty appearance that makes him look old, but he is by no means a hundred years old. It was actually immersed in a mixture of clay , lime , ash , salt and passy rice for several weeks. Result ? This triggers a chemical process that changes its texture , color and taste . From the outside, the egg is black. Inside, the white is dark brown and translucent, like flavorless jelly. The yellow is dark green with a strong odor of sulfur and ammonia . The Taiwanese love it, crumbled on a block of tofu, accompanied by dried bonito, soy and vinegar.
12. Stopover in the Philippines and Vietnam: The Balut, the kinder surprise
The hundred year old egg wasn't enough for you? So head to the Philippines to taste Balut , another kind of egg . This is a chicken or duck egg. So far nothing surprising. Except that it does not contain a classic egg yolk but rather an 18-day-old fetus with bones, beak, visible feathers and eyes staring at you. Because yes, this embryo at an advanced stage is indeed dead, previously boiled or steamed before tasting. Don't worry though, you will barely see the eyes of this poor bird since the shell is also eaten , camouflaging this disgusting spectacle. Expertly seasoned with salt, chili pepper and vinegar, you might be surprised to get a taste for it, nothing better with a beer.
13. Stopover in Thailand: The Black Ivory ca-café
What if we sat down on a Thai terrace and had a little kawa ? Counterintuitively, there is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. For what ? Because it is produced by a unique herd of elephants , of which the locals take great care. But what do elephants have to do with coffee ? This is where it gets interesting. In fact, these big-eared animals are fed coffee beans and a few days later, due to digestion, the beans are found in their excrement . They are then collected, roasted and ground . The interest? As elephants are herbivores , their digestion takes a very long time and causes the coffee to lose its bitterness while it takes on pleasant , fruity and herbaceous aromatic notes.
14. Stopover in Mexico: Are your stomach tingling with escamoles?
We end our trip in Mexico where you should not trust what you think you are eating, especially when you think you have puffed rice on your plate . It could indeed be that your meal consists of escamoles . These are larvae of giant black ants (of the genus Liometopum ), collected from the roots of the agave plant , which are fried in spices and butter. They are put in tortillas or prepared with a sauce and small vegetables. The appearance is similar to rice but the taste is different, close to the taste of butter . Sometimes nicknamed " insect caviar ", escamoles are considered a refined delicacy .
We could cite so many others: seahorse, starfish and scorpion skewers (China), dried lizard (Hong Kong), chicken feet (China), fried tarantula (Cambodia), head of lamb (Algeria) or goat (Mongolia), eye juice of mutton for hangovers (Mongolia), fried tuna eye (Japan), squirrel brain cake (Louisiana, USA), cod milt or "Shirako" (Japan), cow stomach or "lampredotto" ( Italy), turtle soup (England), wasp biscuit (Japan)...
Let's not forget that in France we enjoy snails, frog legs, camembert and foie gras, dishes that inspire horror in the eyes of people from other countries. So let's not judge and appreciate the culinary diversity of each country. Each dish has its story.
If this article has disgusted you, don't hesitate to come back to the delicious things on www.reborn.paris