World's Grossest Foods: Flying Maggot Cheese, Anyone?

Usually, traveling comes with the added bonus of trying delicious new cuisines. But, sometimes, that just isn't the case. In some ports of call, locals like to spice up their dishes with maggots, insect eggs, blood or deadly chemicals. But, hey, to each his own, right?

There is no shortage of gross food out there. But, here is a list of 10 cringe-worthy edibles to watch out for on the road.

Have you encountered any gross foods in your travels? Leave any nastiness in the comments below, your fellow travelers will thank you.

YimHafiz, flickr

10. Durian: This fruit is so notoriously gross and smelly that in Southeast Asia it is prohibited from being brought into certain buildings and onto public transportation. Durian is a love it or hate it kind of a food. To some, it is the "king of fruit," to others it has a taste and odor akin to garlic, armpits and gym socks - all rolled into one. Hard and spiky on the outside, on the inside durians have a pale yellow flesh with a custardy texture.

9. Hakarl: This Icelandic specialty is, in essence, rotten shark meat though cured and fermented might be the more preferred description. Gutted and decapitated sharks first spend 6-12 weeks buried underground under gravel and rock weights to allow the fluids to drain. At this point it might be good to mention that when fresh, this species of shark is poisonous due to a high ureic acid content. After the shark has leeched its poison juices, it's cut into strips and hung to dry for several months, forming a delightful brown crust. The crusts is removed, however, and the meat is served cocktail style, on a toothpick.

8. Lutefisk: Another sort of putrefied fish, Lutefisk is a dish popular in the Nordic countries. It's made from dried cod that has been saturated with lye, which is, of course, poisonous. But a few days' soak in cold water makes the fish edible. It has a jello-like consistency and is typically prepared baked or boiled.

7. Century Egg: In this bizarre Chinese dish, eggs are preserved in some combination of salt, tea, lime, wood ash, clay and rice hulls for a few months. This process results in a petrified looking egg, with the white becoming brown and jelly like and the yolk turning greenish gray and creamy. They can be eaten straight up or as a component in a variety of other dishes.

6. Kopi Luwak: According to some sources, this is the most expensive coffee in the world. Funny, because much of the production is done by an animal called a civet and its digestive system. The civet eats fresh coffee berries (which are actually fleshy) and then defecates the undigested coffee beans. These beans are collected, washed, sun dried and roasted. Supposedly the pre-digestion produces a sweeter brew for human consumers.

5. Tiet Canh: A nice, steamy bowl of soup, totally normal, right? Yes, if that soup is expected to be based around a broth of blood. Traditional in Vietnamese cuisine, this dish can be made in a variety of ways. In one of the simplest preparations, blood is placed in a bowl, chilled and eaten with crushed peanuts on top. The blood can also be served in a pudding-like style for a little more texture.

4. Fruit Bat Soup: Speaking of the horrifying practice of cooking things while they're still living, there's also fruit bat soup, a popular dish in Palau. A simple dish, fruit bat soup is prepared by boiling a live fruit bat in water or coconut milk. For those totally repulsed, the site Animals Asia encourages people to send letters expressing their disgust. Should we mention that these little guys are also known as disease carriers?

olivcris, flickr

3. Escamoles: In today's increasingly globalized world, the idea of eating insects is becoming a lot less strange. But escamoles still get our vote as one of the grossest creepy crawly edibles going. They are the eggs of Liometopum ants, and these puppies are huge. They have a cottage cheese like consistency with a buttery, nutty taste. They're often prepared sautéed in butter and served taco style with guacamole. So, make sure to take a closer look next time you order a taco in Mexico.

kin0be, flickr

2. Balut: Balut takes hard boiled eggs to a new extreme. This Filipino delicacy begins with a fertilized duck or chicken egg. The bird embryo is allowed to grow inside, not quite to maturity, at which time the whole egg is boiled (yes, the embryo is still alive). The entire contents of the egg are then eaten -- the brothy goodness around the embryo is slurped up and the fetus itself is taken with a dash of salt or perhaps a bit of chili and vinegar.

1. Casu Marzu: The name of this Italian delight roughly translates to Sardinian maggot cheese. Ok, not really, but it really is cheese that's been purposefully infested with maggots. To produce casu marzu, a wheel of Pecorino is left outside with part of the rind removed to allow the "cheese fly" to lay its eggs in the cheese. Though the practice of making this stinky cheese may be centuries old, modern health concerns have prompted Italian authorities to actually declare Casu Marzu illegal. The icing on the cake? Those little maggots jump into the air while the cheese is being consumed.

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