Fertilized eggs are boiled just before they’re due to hatch, so your yolk oozes out followed by… a chicken (or duck) foetus. They are cooked when the foetus is anywhere from 17 days to 21 days depending on your preference, although when the egg is older the foetus begins to have a beak, claws, bones and feathers.
Birds Nest Soup, China
It’s something in the saliva of the bird that makes it have this unique gelatinous, rubbery texture and it’s one of the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. It’s expensive because the swiftlets build the nests during breeding season over a period of 35 days and nests can only be harvested around three times a year. The nests are typically built in coastal caves and collecting them is a treacherous process involving climbing and nimble skill, which adds to the hefty price tag.
Casu Marzu, Sardinia
This Sardinian cheese is a cheese with a difference; it’s riddled with insect larvae. “Casu Marzu” means ‘rotten cheese’ and is most commonly referred to as ‘maggot cheese.’ It’s now banned for health reasons but can still be available on the black market in Sardinia and Italy.
The sheep’s milk cheese is basically Pecorino, which has had the larvae of the cheese fly, Piophila casei, introduced to it. Fermentation occurs as the larvae digest the cheese fats, and the texture becomes very soft with some liquid seeping out. The cheese has to be eaten when the maggots are still alive because when they are dead it is considered to be toxic.
Fried tarantulas, Cambodia
They’re fried whole – legs, fangs and all. They were first discovered by starving Cambodians in the bloody, brutal days of the Khmer Rouge rule and have gone from being the vital sustenance of these people to a delicacy tourists come far and wide to try.
Puffer fish, Japan
You’ve got to be careful with this delicacy or you might end up in the morgue. The deadly Puffer fish, or fugu, however is the ultimate delicacy in Japan even though its skin and insides contain the poisonous toxin todrotoxin, which is 1,250 times stronger than cyanide.
That’s why in Japan only expert chefs in licensed restaurants are allowed to prepare it. Otherwise you’re likely to become paralysed whilst still conscious and eventually die from asphyxiation because there is no known antidote.Fifteen people died in Thailand when the fish was made illegal and people started dying it pink and passing it off as salmon.
Kopi Luwak, Indonesia
Kopi Luwak is the rarest, most expensive gourmet coffee in the world. Sounds divine right? It’s actually made from the excrements of an Indonesian cat-like creature called the Luwak.
The Luwak eats only the ripest coffee cherries but its stomach can’t digest beans inside them, so they come out whole. The coffee that results from this process is said to be like no other, and the stomach acids and enzymes that perform the fermentation of the beans give the coffee a special aroma.
One of the world’s strangest dishes can be found in Sweden. Surstomming is fermented Baltic herring and can be found on supermarket shelves all over the country, although you probably won’t see it next to the Ikea meatballs.
The herring is caught in spring when it is just about to spawn and is fermented in barrels for one to two months before it is tinned where the fermentation continues for several months. The cans often bulge during shipping and storage because of the continued fermentation process.
Snake Wine, Vietnam
The snake is left to steep in the rice wine for many months to let the poison dissolve in the wine. The ethanol makes the venom inactive so it is not dangerous, and snake wine supposedly has many health benefits. It has a slightly pink colour like a nice rose because of the snake blood in there.
It originated in Vietnam, where snakes are thought to possess medicinal qualities, but it has spread to other parts of South East Asia and Southern China. Snake blood wine on the other hand is made by slicing the belly of the snake to let the blood drain into the wine and this is served immediately.
Puffin Heart, Iceland
Sometimes referred to as the ‘clown of the ocean’ or ‘sea parrot’, the puffin, with its colourful beak and clumsy behaviour, is considered an adorable bird. The sight of a puffin flapping its wings and jumping from a cliff to generate enough lift to become airborne is enough to make anyone go ‘aaaah’.
In Iceland, however, these seabirds have been a source of sustenance for Icelanders on the islands for centuries. Iceland is home to one of the world’s largest colonies of puffins and ‘sky fishing’ is a sport which involves catching the low flying birds in a big net.
Live Octopus, Korea
In Korea Sannakji is a raw dish consisting of live octopus. The octopus is cut into pieces whilst still alive, lightly seasoned with sesame oil and served immediately whilst the tentacles can still be seen squirming on the plate.
Eating live octopus is a challenge not only mentally trying to get your head round eating something that’s still alive, but physically, as the tentacles stick to any surface they touch. You actually have to fight with your food before you can devour it and savour its taste.