20 Weirdest Food Consumed Around the World

Singaporeans take pride in their food, even in Durian, a fruit unique to South East Asian that carries a pungent (or some say aroma) smell. There are so many strange food around the world where some may savour and others cringe at. How many from this list would you dare to try?

Casu Marzu

Where: Sardinia, Italy

What:  Sheep milk cheese notable for containing live insect larvae. These larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese, promoting an advanced level of fermentation and breaking down of the cheese’s fats The texture of the cheese becomes very soft, with some liquid (called lagrima, from Latin for “tear”) seeping out. The larvae themselves appear as translucent white worms, about 8 millimetres (0.3 in) long.When disturbed, the larvae can launch themselves for distances up to 15 centimetres (6 in). Some people clear the larvae from the cheese before consuming while others do not.

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photo credit: Wikipedia

Balut

Where: Commonly in Phillippines

What: A Balut or Balot is a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. It is commonly sold as streetfood in the Philipines. They are common food in countries in Southeast Asia, such as Laos (khai look ໄຂ່ລູກ in Lao, Cambodia (pong tia koon ពងទាកូន in Cambodian) and Vietnam (trứng vịt lộn or hột vịt lộn in Vietnamese). They are often served with beer. Think I’ll be happy with just the beer.

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photo credit: Wikipedia

Criadillas (Rocky Mountain Oysters)

Where: Western America and Canada

What: They are basically bull calf testicles. Sometimes pig or sheep testicles are used. Deep-fry or boil them.

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photo credits: Wikipedia

Shirako

Where: Japan

What: Fish semen, commonly from the cod fish.

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photo credits: lunch.com

Kiviak

Where: Greenland

What: A traditional wintertime Inuit food from Greenland that is made of auks preserved in the hollowed-out body of a seal. Around 500 auks are put into the seal skin intact, including beaks, feet and feathers, before as much air as possible is removed from the seal skin, which is then sewn up and sealed with grease, with a large rock placed on top to keep the air content low. Over the course of seven months, the birds ferment, and are then eaten during the Greenlandic winter, particularly on birthdays and weddings

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photo credits: Wikipedia

Haggis

Where: Scotland

What: Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs; minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.

photo credits: Wikipedia

Pacha (Khash)

Where: Iraq

What: Boiled sheep’s head, this is a traditional dish Armenia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Formerly a nutritious winter food, it is now considered a delicacy, and is enjoyed as a festive winter meal, usually by a company of men who sit around in a table, early in the morning.

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Surströmming

Where: Sweden

What: Don’t be fooled by it’s outlook, some have dubbed it the worst food ever.  Surströmming is fermented Baltic herring and is a staple of traditional northern Swedish cuisine. The herring used for surströmming are caught just prior to spawning. The fermentation starts from a lactic acid enzyme in the spine of the fish, and so the fermentation is by autolysis; together with bacteria, pungent smelling acids are formed in the fish such as propionic acid, butyric acid and acetic acid. Hydrogen sulphide is also produced.

Fugu (Pufferfish)

Where: Japan

What: The reason why this is on the list is because it is lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin; therefore, it must be carefully prepared to remove toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat. People have died after eating Fugu.

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photo credits: lunch.com

Sannakji

Where: Korea

What: It is octopus that has been cut into small pieces and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The octopus pieces are usually still squirming on the plate. It can also be served whole. As the suction cups are still alive, extra precaution should be taken when eating this. I’ve personally tried this before because the Korean lady that owned the restaurant told me that it wouldn’t feel like I’ve been to Korea if I don’t try it. I feel conned. It really does stick to your tongue and has a weird texture.

Beondegi

Where: Korea

What: Beondegi (Korean: 번데기) are a popular snack food in Korean cuisine. Literally meaning “chrysalis” or “pupa” in Korean, Beondegi are steamed or boiled silkworm pupae which are seasoned and eaten as a snack. Beondegi are often served by street vendors, as well as in restaurants and drinking establishments. They are also sold in cans in grocery stores and convenience stores, but they must be boiled in water before serving.

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Escamoles

Where: Mexico

What: Escamoles are the larvae of ants of the genus Liometopum. They are harvested from the roots of the Agave tequilana (tequila) or Agave americana (maguey—mezcal) plants in Mexicoescamoles are considered a delicacy and are sometimes referred to as “insect caviar”. They have a cottage cheese-like consistency and a buttery, yet slightly nutty, taste. You might want to pick your tacos carefully when in Mexico.

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Hakari

Where: Iceland

What: Hákarl or kæstur hákarl (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈhauːkʰadl̥]) (Icelandic for “shark”) is a food from Iceland consisting of a Greenland shark or sleeper shark (Somniosus microcephalus) which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months. Hákarl is often referred to as an acquired taste and has a very particular ammonia-rich smell and fishy taste.

Hakarl_near_Bjarnahöfn_in_Iceland

Baby Mice Wine

Where: China/Korea

What: Literally wine made from baby mice. To make baby mice wine, stuff rodents no more than three days old into a bottle of rice wine and let stew for a year. The tonic is believed to be an all-purpose cure for everything from asthma to liver disease.

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photo credit: Weburbanist.com

Black Ivory Coffee

Where: Thailand

What: You might have heard of the special weasel coffee. The black ivory coffee is the same concept, just that it is coffee made from beans secreted out of elephants who have digested the coffee beans they consumed. Yeap, very grim I know. According to Wikipedia “Black Ivory coffee has been described as “very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee” and is among the world’s most expensive coffees”. Think I’ll pass.

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Tepa (Stinkheads)

Where: Alaska

What: Tepa is fermented fish heads and is a traditional delicacy in Alaska, where no part of the fish is wasted. A customary way of preparing them is to place fish heads and guts in a wooden barrel, cover it with burlap, and bury it in the ground for about a week. For a short while in modern times, plastic bags and buckets replaced the barrel. The name gives you a clue about the unusual aroma which is a result of the fish decomposing.

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Mopane

Where: Many parts in African continent

What: The mopane worm is a caterpillar. It is enjoyed by many as a delicacy in some parts of Southern Africa and considered a bush food in others. It apparent has very high nutritious level and some regard it as truly delicious.

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Cat Meat Hot Pot

Where: China

What: It is basically like a type of stew and the chinese love to put all kinds of meat into the stew and cook it together. In this case, it is the cat (meow).

Fried Brain Burger

Where: Ohio, USA

What: As the name suggest, it is a burger or sandwich made from sliced calves brains. However as brains from cows over 30 months old at slaughter are no longer permitted in human food in the United States (Hefling, 2004). Some restaurants have taken to serving pigs’ brains instead of cows’ brains due to BSE concerns. But as pigs’ brains are substantially smaller than cows’ brains, the amount of preparation required for each sandwich increases. Each brain must be cleaned before being sliced and pigs’ brains produce fewer slices.

fried brain burger

Tuna Eye

Where: Japan

What: For those who know, the tuna has pretty big eyes. Some say it taste like squid. To cook it, simply boil it and lightly season to taste. I’m not sure if I would enjoy eating something that is staring at me all the time.

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So there you have it, a compilation of the world’s weirdest food. I’m pretty sure there are many more out there, and some might even argue that this isn’t weird at all (like how I refuse to put Century Eggs, Durian and Chicken feet in the list as I really enjoy them!)

I stole most of my facts online (largely from Wikipedia) and I’ve never tried any of them apart from Sannakji. Feel free to correct any information (or add any to the list) in the comment section! As for now, I certainly hope I didn’t ruin your appetite.

Bon Appetit.

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

The Truth About Photography

I shared this video on my Facebook yesterday and I want to share it with all my readers. First of all, I finally visited the ‘National Geographic 50 Greatest Photograph Exhibition’ that was ongoing in my city and I left the place feeling so inspired. The photographs were so powerful. It either sends a message, tells a story or connects with you.

"Good photography has the power to 
undo your assumptions about the world"

I found this video on youtube, which included photographers who had their photographs as part of Nat Geo’s 50 Greatest Photograph showcase. This is their take on their journey of being a photographer and what it means to photograph.

"A weapon to show what's going on out there"
"I photograph to understand"

It’s really about capturing an emotion, stopping time, seeing hope and bridging the world. The one picture that struck me most at the exhibition is a portrait of a young Peruvian shepherd  by William Albert Allard. The story behind the photograph is that, a driver had ran over half of the herd and the picture transversed the boy’s shattered emotions. You can see it in his eyes, the way he looks at the camera while weeping. The image had touched audiences worldwide and through the sale of the photograph, a substantial sum was raised and given to the village where the Peruvian boy lived and the sheep were replaced.

"People do care"

Here’s a link to William Albert Allard’s interview about this photograph.

"There's nothing more beautiful, captivating, amazing, spiritual, 
as what's around us right now"

I highly recommend everyone to visit this exhibition if you have to chance to and I hope it moves you the same as it did for me.

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

5 Types of Recreational Dives

After I got my PADI I’ve been promoting diving as an activity relentlessly to all my peers (of course I had to) and I find that there’s a need to correct some misconceptions about diving. For starters, diving isn’t just about floating around the deep blue ocean and looking at nemo. The recreational activities available for divers are endless. Here are some I’d love to explore (after I get my advance certificate of course).

1. Cave Diving

Cave diving is like entering into a strange underwater world. It seems almost mystical, somewhat inviting and a mermaid would complete the experience. Watch this video and you’ll understand (skip to 3:26 if you’re impatient).

Certainly not all caves are safe to venture into so make sure you are properly trained and well-equip (and a super pro at neutral buoyancy) before you do ANY form of cave diving.

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photo credit: dMap Travel Guide via photopin cc

2. Night Diving

Night diving is for you to see your usual dive sites in a different “light”. Many marine creatures hide themselves when there is sunlight and you will only spot them on a night dive! And believe it or not, the colours your see underwater are more vibrant at night as it doesn’t get absorbed by the sunlight. It can seem scary at first as you are completely reliant on your dive torch. I’d suggest bringing an extra or 2, for your own security and just relax! I was told you’ll get comfortable after awhile, and if you think about if, you will never lose sight of your buddies as long as their lights are switched on!

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photo credit: hankplank via photopin cc

3. Wreck Diving

This is one that gets quite a few of my peers raising an eyebrow to. Wreck diving does sound kinda freaky especially if you know that people actually died on the wreck. Divers who love exploring wrecks are probably curious behind the history of the wreck, especially if they were part of the world war. The wrecks are pretty much remnants that you usually see in the museums but better preserved underwater! Other wrecks are impressive based on the sheer size of the ocean liners or planes that went down under. One can also experience the abundant marine life that has taken over the wreck site, increasing the thrill of the dive! Here’s a list of some wreck diving sites in the world by PADI (and many others by the commenters)

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photo credits: CasaDeQueso via Flickr

4. Deep Diving

The idea and definition of deep diving is debated by many professional divers but to me, it just means diving deeper. The marine life varies at different depths therefore deep diving can offer you a new set of sitings. The basic PADI cert allows divers to dive up to 18m if you want to go deep you would have to go beyond that. Apart from that, deep divers can explore the many blue holes around the world. Blue holes are limestone sinkholes, or vertical caves to give you a better perspective. It’s really deep and but the depth is also alluring. People who have gone for the dives say that you can see tiny creatures living on the walls and stalactites and the experience is somewhat like diving in a cathedral. Here’s Galding’s experience diving the Blue hole in Belize and here’s 5 Amazing Blue holes the world has to offer.

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photo credit: MFS – The Many Faces of Spaces via Flickr

5. Drift Diving

Drift diving is like an underwater roller coaster ride (sounds dangerous? can be, so make sure you are skilled enough!) Drift diving is when the diver is transported by a currents. You can cover a longer distance, see more habitats and formation on the dive and enjoy a sensation of flying. It’s like what the turtles experienced in Finding Nemo. I was looking up on drift diving and I found something really awesome. Around the French Polynesia, there is something called the Grey Shark Wall (see picture below).

This is how it works:

On the south end of the atoll, divers hit the water at the mouth of Tumakohua Pass, a narrow channel leading into the atoll lagoon. On an incoming tide, the current sucks into the channel like water down a drain, reaching speeds up to 4 knots. “You start in the open sea and swim toward the mouth of the pass,” says Mary Anne Leou of TOPDIVE Fakarava. “This is where you find the gray-shark wall.” The signature feature of this dive is towering a gauntlet of sharks — hundreds of graysblack tipswhite tips and more — that block the entrance. Once into the pass divers sweep past the coral-draped walls packed with Napoleon wrasse before they’re ejected into the calm waters of the lagoon.

HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Grey Reef Shark

photo credit: Andy Murch

Here’s the list of 6 Ripping Drift Dives, including the Grey Shark Wall.

So you see, diving isn’t just about floating around the ocean and seeing the corals, there is so much more to experience out there. And just for fun, here’s 6 Daredevil Dives collated by scubadiving[dot]com. I’d say I’m generally quite daring, but it did send chills down my spine when I saw the list.

Wherever you’re diving enjoy your dive. If you’re still thinking about getting the PADI, go get it!

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

5 Reasons To Make You Want To Dive

I just returned from a weekend dive trip at Tioman, Malaysia, and I am proud to announce that I’m officially a certified Open Water Diver! I had so much fun over the weekend with likeminded people and I was delighted to hear the different diving experiences shared by the instructors on this trip. My decision to get my Open Water Diver Certificate is one of the best decisions I’ve made and this is why:

1. You get to experience the other 70% of the world 

The world is huge, if you think you’ve seen it all, think again. 70% of the Earth is covered with water and there is so much wonders going on in this large part of the globe. Swimming in the ocean amongst marine life is such a surreal experience. Diving not only allows you to swim side by side with marine creatures but you can also venture into caves that are underwater or visit ancient civilisations that has been present thousands of years ago but is now buried underwater. What you can find in this other 70% of the world is simply incredible. Here’s a video to entice you.

OCEAN from Sarosh Jacob on Vimeo.

2. It takes traveling to a whole new level

Now every time you travel, you take into consideration not just what you see on land but also what you see underwater. Similar to being on land, the geographic region affects what sort of ocean life you get to encounter. For instance you would head to Sri Lanka to see the Whale Sharks, Maldives to see the Manta Rays, Malaysia to see the Barracudas, or simply travel to find the best coral formations. Furthermore, you get to meet so many people who share the same joy in diving and exchange your unique encounters. The stories are endless, so are the opportunities. Here’s CNN’s take on 50 best dive sites in the world.

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photo credit: Nataraj Metz via photopin cc

3. You cannot find another activity that is more therapeutic 

When you are underwater, you hear nothing but your own breathing and the underwater life. You can’t speak nor can you make any sound. I have never come across any other activity that allows such tranquility as much as diving can offer. Everything seems to slow down underwater. You tend to forget about the world. You are stripped of your means of communication. You don’t even feel any weight, physically and mentally. It’s just you floating around the ocean. I love it so much I’m addicted.

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photo credit: spettacolopuro via photopin cc

4. You learn to maintain composure in sticky situations

All divers are taught to remain calm and compose even in the most sticky situations they face i.e. being out of air underwater. This is because should a diver fluster, his life will be at risk. Thus, the key is to keep calm and keep breathing. Such a skill is applicable to life in order to handle the periodic panic attacks. This would definitely reduce stress level in society and the world can be a happier place.

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photo credit: tab2space via photopin cc

5. Bonus for fellow Singaporeans: The best dive sites are concentrated in South East Asia

Being in Singapore, we are so blessed to be surrounded by top dive sites of the world. For starters, we are SO close to The Coral Triangle, which is the global centre for biodiversity. It is also known as the Amazon of the seas. The top dive sites are a short flight away from Singapore and very often, you will be able to find budget flights to the area. For instance, AirAsia offer budget flights to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, East Malaysia, home to world famous dive sites like Sipadan Island and Layang Layang. Not far off we also have Bali in Indonesia and Boracay in the Philippines. As compared to other parts of the world, diving in South East Asia is a lot cheaper and it hardly disappoints.

Diving is really a fascinating activity and I strongly encourage all of you to give it shot. If you are afraid let me give you some encourage. One of my dive instructors use to be aquaphobic (fear of water).

If you’re still not convinced, watch the following video. It pretty much sums up point 1 to 5.

The Worlds Best Dive Destinations H D from Volker Bassen on Vimeo.

Hopefully you will feel as excited as my dive group did when we passed our Open Water Diver Course. Thank you for the great weekend!

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photo credits to Michelle Tan

PS: If you want to know who I did my Open Water Course with, I did it with Gilldivers

Meanwhile, Keep calm and keep breathing

Peace & Love,

Eileen x