What’s the world’s most disgusting food?

What’s the world’s most disgusting food?

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Okay – we need your help with this one. Because it is absolutely, completely, definitely subjective. This week we discovered something called the Disgusting Food Museum. It’s in Sweden, and it does what it says on the tin: displays the stinkiest, ugliest, grossest foods from around the world. 

Writing about their experience at the museum, one blogger said:

“...the first thing that hits you is the smell. It smells terrible. Like weird, old, pickled, gross food. Everything stinks. Once you get used to this base smell, you are then given a ticket, made of a barf bag, and then told that if you puke, please do so in the bag. A giant chalkboard lists that it’s been only 13 days since someone last vomited here.” 

What kind of foods? 

The abhorrent exhibits include…

  • Durian – a fruit from Thailand that has a global reputation for being very, very smelly. If you drive home with this fruit on your back seat the smell will linger in your car for days; but durian fans say it tastes deliciously sweet and has the texture of a creamy cheesecake.
  • Cuy – roasted guinea pigs, a traditional dish from Peru. It’s said to taste quite a bit like chicken, so eating this dish isn’t the problem; it’s the concept of eating a guinea pig, and the sight of the rodent roasted on a plate, that makes the uninitiated feel a little queasy.
  • Surströmming – fermented herring from Sweden. Its unique smell is caused by autolysis in the fermentation process, when enzymes in bacteria create acids; along with hydrogen sulfide, which smells like old eggs.
  • Hákarl – very well-aged shark from Iceland, which has a cheese-like (and chewy) texture. It’s particularly well-known for an aftertaste that’s a bit like urine, and hangs around in the mouth for quite a while.
  • Casu marzu – cheese from Sardinia that’s infested with maggots. You eat the live insect larvae along with the cheese. It was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most dangerous cheese, and it’s illegal to buy and sell. 

But disgust is culturally (and personally) subjective 

We’ve said it before: food is never just fuel. 

We’re all intrigued by foods from different cultures that we think are weird or unpleasant (how can they eat that?!), but it’s important to remember that cultural differences are just that: cultural. No one is right about which foods are gross or delicious – we all approach new dishes with our own experiences and cultural conditioning to tell us what we should and shouldn’t like. 

Disgust does have an evolutionary function though. Feeling disgusted stops us from eating something – and that can prevent us from consuming food that is unsafe and might make us ill. According to a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, disgust develops at around the time when humans are most vulnerable to the risk of ingesting pathogens – at around three to five years old. 

So we all feel disgust; but we don’t all feel disgust in response to the same things. 

With that in mind, we want to hear from you…

Tell us about the food products that you find the most unbearably disgusting. 

We love a little bit of unscientific research via The Sauce – so we’ll use your responses to put together our own (digital) disgusting food museum in a future newsletter. 

If you want to stay ahead of the latest developments in F&B, register now to attend InFlavour 2024. We can’t wait to see you there.

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