5 Foods From Around The Globe That Freak Out Most Americans
Every country in the world has local foods that just don't make sense to tourists and travelers, but there are several dishes that are universally unappealing to most cultures outside the ones that treat their local dishes like delicacies. The truth is that more than a few of these taboo foods are nightmares for most Americans who aren't accustomed to local tastes and customs. Take a trip to every corner of the globe and learn about these five foods that are likely to freak you out.
Fried Bats, Indonesia
Except for the occasional vampire story or an unfortunate trip into an old attic, Americans rarely think about bats until Halloween. Even when we do think about bats they're never fried up on a plate or mixed into a bowl of soup. However, in many parts of the Pacific Rim and Asia, bats are a somewhat common source of protein. Known in some places as the "chicken of the cave," it's usually fried, grilled or added to stews. Some places in Guam even consider fruit bats a delicacy.
The name alone sounds appetizing, but this Central Mexico delicacy is less tasty in translation. Escamoles are ant larvae, harvested from maguey plants. Usually fried up with butter and served in salads or tortillas, they're known to have something like a nutty taste. The dish dates back to the Aztecs, and is just one of several insect-related dishes popular in Mexico. Americans should note that nearly every culture in the world outside the Western sphere has insects on the menu.
There are many countries around the world that eat shark, but nobody does it quite like Iceland. An Icelandic national dish, hákarl is fermented and hung out to dry for up to five months at a time to bring out the best flavor. Usually made from Greenland sharks or sleeper sharks, the meat is fully decayed and cured to remove poisonous toxins from the skin to make it edible. The smell is supposedly unbearable to first-timer eaters, who are encouraged to eat it with a shot of alcohol.
Escamoles might tempt Americans in search of an adventurous meal, but it would take a very outgoing person to try what's cooked up in countries like Cambodia and Venezuela. Fried spiders are considered a delicacy in regions of Cambodia. They're a popular market snack and a common destination for tourists. The type of spiders foraged in Cambodia are big enough to be considered remote-controlled tarantulas, and are also foraged in Venezuela. Surprisingly, the protein-packed snack is said to taste like chicken, though tourists don't recommend eating the gooey abdomen.
Casu Marzu, Italy
Food-loving travelers know there can be some high-priced penalties for not declaring products to customs upon returning to America, but they'd have a hard time tracking down this illegal Italian treat. Exclusive to Sardinia and parts of Corsica, casu marzu goes to the extreme in the fermentation process. The cheese is left outside to encourage cheese flies to lay eggs inside. The hatched larvae eat the cheese, breaking down fats to give it a unique texture. The cheese is safest to eat when the maggots are alive, though many have methods for killing them before indulging.
Made Just for Americans
There are plenty of foods from America that freak out people from other parts of the globe. Most Americans would find it hard to believe that many people outside the United States are repulsed by the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Root beer is another American classic that can baffle visitors. The mixture of common ingredients brings to mind the taste of medicines like cough syrup in palates around the world. Other unappetizing foods are things most Americans won't even put in pet food bowls, let alone eat, such as Rocky Mountain oysters and fried rattlesnake.
Every culture in the world has a handful of foods that almost everybody else finds unappealing, but if you're an open-minded eater, you might find your new favorite food in an unlikely place. You don't have to go halfway around the world to experience a new dish. Cook up some of your favorites to put these spooky dishes out of your mind with supplies from The Lakeside Collection.