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12 Delicacies Most People Wouldn’t Eat3

By Chris Littler

12 Delicacies Most People Wouldn’t Eat

Human beings get hungry. When we get hungry, we set aside whatever we’re doing and head out for food. In the old days, if berries and meat were prevalent, we’d feast on that and sit satisfied with gurgling belly and toothpick in our teeth. But, if berries and meat were not available, then we’d have to get a little more creative. We’d have to search under rocks, eat animals that don’t look too appealing — whatever it took to survive. Then we’d sit unsatisfied and wait to die. If we didn’t die, we’d thank God, and maybe we’d come back to that food at a later date. Maybe we’d try it in different ways (cooked, sautéed, served on a tortilla) to see if it could be made to taste a little better. Then, after doing this for a while, we’d cook it for the neighbors, to see if other people could eat it without dying. If they didn’t die either, we’d thank God, and maybe we’d cook it up for the big November feast. The process continued, went on and on and on, until some foods became worldwide staples – behold, the sandwich!

Everything we eat has to go, and has gone, through this empirical process. Think about it: the only reason the things we eat are appetizing is because we’re used to them, not because they’re any less gross than what other cultures eat – we’re looking at you, Asia. We eat eggs, which are ejected from a chicken’s cloaca (the same road feces and urine travel through). We drink milk, which is meant to be suckled out by baby cows from a teat. And if eating a hitchhiker was a fourth of July tradition, we’d welcome any rambling sole into our car on the way to grandma’s house. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it. Or you can ask cannibal/rapper, Shiva, of the series Rhyme Animal, if people taste like chicken.

We stomach the things we stomach because we’re accustomed to them, not because they’re objectively tastier. In fact, there are small segments of humanity that consume foods even gross-out food critic Anthony Bourdain wouldn’t touch. And they like it! Read on, if you dare.

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1. The Century Egg

The Century Egg is a delicacy in China. It’s enjoyed more often than not at special occasions. These special occasions can be a wedding, an anniversary or the birth of a newborn. After eating the century egg, these occasions become special for an altogether different reason. The Century Egg is a quail or duck egg dipped in clay, ash, lime, and rice hulls and aged for months. That’s right, people in China are celebrating stuff by eating a month-old rotten egg. Because of its urine-like smell, it’s commonly referred to as the horse urine egg. How anyone can put this thing in their mouth voluntarily is beyond us. Whatever happened to fortune cookies?

2. Casu Marzu

Waiter, there’s a fly in our cheese. Oh, sorry, we meant there’s not enough flies in our cheese. When you order the Casu Marzu, you’re paying for the maggots. What was once the pristine white gold known as sheep’s milk has been fermented into a Percorino cheese, then fermented again until the cheese flies have laid their eggs in it. When the eggs hatch, a waiter cuts open a hole in the top and sets it on your table. If you don’t immediately die of a brain explosion, then you can feast upon the poop of a thousand cheese maggots. It’s a good idea to bring along a friend, if not just to talk about the latest draft of your will, but to take on some of the poison you’re shoveling down your throat canal. Not only are the maggots good at surviving the whole being eaten thing, but the ones who were already dead when the dish was served are considered toxic. So if you take away anything from this article, it’s this: go Dutch on your maggot-infested goat cheese.

3. Caterpillar Fungus

What happens when a caterpillar eats a fungus he shouldn’t have, then becomes infested by said fungus, and dies in a mummified form? Dinner, that’s what! There are a lot of platters on this list that wouldn’t be possible if not for some alien miracle of life, but this one has to be the most bizarre. A good rule of thumb is to not eat anything that could easily be narrated by naturalist David Attenborough. Caterpillar-killing fungus aside, the little pre-butterflies on their own sound a little too gushy to our discerning ears, or maybe it’s the hairy part that gets us. Or maybe it’s the idea we’re eating something that died from eating something.

4. Tiet Canh

Tiet Canh is a traditional dish of raw duck blood. We know what you’re thinking, “Why would I order something that I could just as easily drink from the neck of a duck?” Sure, you could do that, but why would chance terrifying all the little old ladies on the park benches when you could slurp up duck blood in a shallow bowl at your favorite Vietnamese café? Tiet Canh isn’t served unprepared, you silly goose. It’s mixed with the most select duck innards, some mint, coriander, peanuts, a splash of lime, and served cold in a way that’s going to have you screaming, “Bon appé-duck!”

5. Namibian Warthog Anus

Remember when we said Anthony Bourdain wouldn’t even touch this stuff? That was a lie. The truth: globetrotter Bourdain has eaten one thing on this list, and it’s this. The reason Namibian Warthog Anus doesn’t have a more colorful name like good ol’ Tiet Canh or Kopi Luwak is because Namibian Warthog Anus is served exactly as it sounds. Namibian bushmen tear the anus out of the warthog along with a foot or so of their intestine, squeeze the fecal matter out, toss that gooey piece of flesh over a few burning coals, and serve. It’s the closest thing to a backyard bar-b-que that Namibian bushmen are going to get, seeing as how the entire country of Namibia is their backyard. For some reason, the fact that it’s a warthog makes it that much less appetizing to us. Maybe it’s because we just watched The Lion King.

6. Fruit Bat Soup

Lobster is conventionally served by taking a live lobster and dumping it in a pot of boiling water. A few wisecracks about the screaming sound the air makes when it passes through their shells, and then lobster is served with butter and tools for cracking. The same method is used to make Fruit Bat soup in Palau. So why does this sound so much grosser? Maybe it’s the fact that a fruit bat puts up a little more fight. Or maybe it’s that a fruit bat is covered in hair and has warm mammalian innards. Maybe there’s no difference between the two. Still, we really don’t think we’re going to be chasing our kids around the kitchen with a live fruit bat in our hands any time soon.

7. Kopi Luwak

Americans love coffee. Ever since Starbucks exploded onto the scene in the early nineties and subsequently opened 11,000 locations across the United States, all of us have been turned into coffee connoisseurs. We know a good cup from a bad, a good price from a cheat, and most importantly, when the beans have been pre-digested by a civet. Although the famous chain promises the best coffee from around the world, you’d have to do a lot of haranguing to get a cup of Kopi Luwak out of your favorite barista – mostly because the civet is indigenous to Africa and Asia, but also because beans that have passed through a civet’s digestive tract are extremely rare. Roughly a thousand pounds of civet coffee make it on to the market every year, with a pound fetching as much as 600 dollars in some places. Basically, this cat/raccoon eats the beans, an enzyme in its stomach makes the beans extra tasty, then it defecates, then farmers collect the “stuff,” clean it and charge you a bundle for it while they laugh their way to the bank. So if you were able to convince hipster brewmaster Brad to brew you up a venti cup special, it’d cost you a pretty penny. And who knows if it goes with cream?

8. Monkey Brains

There’s a scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Indiana and his friends are offered a gorgeous banquet that turns out to be not so gorgeous after all. One dish offered is monkey brains, which pretty much sends everyone overboard, regardless of the fact that it’s a fairly common dish in China. The Chinese believe that something within the brains of monkeys can cure men of impotence, which we’re sure leads to a pretty uncomfortable conversation whenever someone orders it on a date. On the other hand, it might be the perfect treat for a couple dining on their tenth anniversary. There’s very little research that proves the dish does anything but put the dinner guests at increased risk of contracting degenerative neurological disorders, which makes it a perfect dish if you’re getting really tired of making sense and look forward to having someone wipe your bum for you.

9. Snake Wine

Unfortunately for Vietnam – and for humanity, really – snake wine is not made of grapes picked and barreled by a family of anthropomorphic snakes with a great smell for wine. Snake wine is, simply put, an entire snake shoved in a bottle of rice wine or grain alcohol. The Vietnamese believe snake wine has highly curative powers, but also believe that drinking from a bottle with an entire snake inside of it makes you look awesome. Venomous snakes are preferred over their more huggable counterparts, but drinking isn’t at all risky. The venom is denatured by the high ethanol content. Sadly, anyone seeking to drink a little snake wine in the western world is going to have to journey through back channels. The drink is outlawed most everywhere, because the price of virility often costs an endangered snake its life.

10. Sannakji

If you’ve ever complained to your waiter that your food is dead, then Sannakji is the dish for you. This Korean dish is comprised of an octopus speedily chopped into pieces and sprinkled with sesame. When the plate lands in front of you, the tentacles are still squirming – having not received the message from the head that they’re dead. Their loss is your gain; the suction-cup covered pieces wriggle and jiggle as you shovel them down your gullet. The dish actually comes with a warning: chew thoroughly, because the suction cups have a tendency to stick to the inside of your throat. There are many cases on record where an excited dinner guest has required a trip to the hospital because he or she didn’t crush the sannakji tentacles properly. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but it’s even better when it’s served alive.

11. Rooster Testicles

Roosters are notoriously cocky. They strut around the barnyard, kicking up rocks in front of the henhouse, crow at the sun when it rises like some kind of distance challenger, battle in makeshift pits while men cheer them on. It only makes sense that a rooster would have large testicles – and they do. And why should they be the only ones to enjoy them!? The Taiwanese enjoy feasting on the product, boiling and eating them with little garnish. According to those who’ve tasted them, the resulting taste is bulbous – well, duh – and consist of a tofu-like texture. Tofu? Yeah right. Like you’d ever see a self-respecting rooster who would be sporting tofu down there.

12. Escamoles

Downed jet fighter pilots and people trapped at the bottom of wells agree on one thing: ants don’t taste great, but they’ll do in a pinch. Escamoles is made of the eggs of black ants, which are collected from their colonies by collectors in giant protective suits. Apparently, the queen and her minions are none too pleased when man steps in and tries to secure himself a delicacy. But who can blame us? Of all the foods on this list, black ant eggs is the tamest. The taste is generally compared to corn. So much so that escalmole is oftentimes served in a hard taco shell. In fact, your local Mexican food joint could have been serving you escamole this entire time, and you wouldn’t know it. Of course, the only reason they’d be doing it would be to screw with you – black ant eggs are decidedly more expensive than corn.

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Chris Littler lives in Hollywood. He has a degree in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, one of the most prestigious writing programs in America, which he totally plans to hang on the wall when he has a Study. Chris currently covers video games at UGO.com when he’s not performing improv at iO, and is currently writing a one-hour TV pilot with his friend Wes. Like everyone else you know, he has an album available to purchase on iTunes and has lots of things to say on his blog: chrislittler[dot]com.

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Must Reads 4/24/2014