Unfamiliar foods can be delicious or more of an acquired taste. While cultural differences often separate us and create boundaries, food can also connect us and sharing a meal is the best way to turn strangers into friends.
If you are curious about which bizarre foods are the most likely to trigger queasiness in first-time tasters, no need to wonder anymore. Now you can find 80 of the world’s most distinctive and repulsive edible oddities in one place and that is the Disgusting Food Museum stationed in Mälmo, Sweden.
Some of the special foods include frog smoothies from Peru, a bull penis from China, the foul-smelling durian fruit from Thailand, Finland’s salty black licorice and slimy, fermented soybeans (nattō) from Japan.
To be included in the exhibit, each dish had to qualify as potentially gag-inducing due to its smell, taste, appearance or texture and it also had to be thought of as delicious somewhere in the world, as curator and museum director Andreas Ahrens told for Live Science:
For example, a well-known Philippine dish called balut serves up partially developed duck embryos that are boiled alive inside the egg and then eaten as a whole. Ahrens told Live Science that he considers himself fairly adventurous when it comes to food and when he tried balut, he couldn’t keep it down. It was so repelling to him that he threw up while for his wife, that grew up on Philippines, balut was normal. Another food in the museum that challenges the untrained palate is fermented shark from Iceland called hákarl, which Ahrens described as “death in a little can,” saying it smells worse than anything in the world.
The museum even includes what could be a sly nod to the host nation: Swedes’ preference for fermented Baltic Sea herring — surströmming — is noted in the museum, too.The stench of surströmming (search online for “surströmming challenge” and you’ll get the idea) is considered by some to be so putrid that a German judge ruled in favor of a landlord who evicted a tenant when he opened a can of the fish in the building’s stairwell.
Disgusting Food Museum has two main parts, which are the exhibit and the tasting area. Both of them are needed for the optimal experience. The visitors start by going through the exhibit to learn about food from around the world and then they get a chance to try a selection of the foods at the tasting bar.
Perhaps after experiencing the sights and smells of these one-of-a-kind foods, museum visitors will find themselves a little more open-minded about dishes and cultures other than their own, Ahrens said for Live Science.
If any of the items in this exhibition makes visitors want to throw up, the curators have thought of this, too. The ticket doubles as a vomiting bag.