We all know how pictures of good food can make us hungry even when we’re not. But what about all dishes out there that look so gross that most people decide to skip them solely based on their appearance even though looks can be deceiving and some of them are actually delicious? If for any reason, you’re wondering what’s the grossest worst looking food people eat around the world, keep reading- here are 46 bizarre-looking dishes from different parts of our planet.
Jellied Moose Nose
The name of this dish beats even the awful appearance because it actually describes what it is. Yes, a jellied moose nose is a traditional Alaskan dish (also eaten in parts of Canada) that consists of cutting a moose’s snout, boiling until the hair can be removed easily, and then boiled again until it becomes as soft as a jelly.
Fermented Salmon Head
Salmon is a popular Alaskan staple dish but there’s one part of this fish that no one outside of Alaska would be interested in; the salmon’s fermented head. The preparation method includes burying salmon heads in the ground in fermentation pits after which they’re placed in barrels for a few more weeks, and are finally served to the dinner table. I know that this dish is a big deal in Alaska and a real-world delicacy that has been featured in numerous magazines but there’s absolutely nothing appetizing about this dish- it tastes bad, it smells bad (ergo, the nickname “stink head”), and it certainly deserves a spot on this list of the worst looking food from around the world.
Looking for some more disgusting American dishes? Check out this list of the worst food from every US state.
Soft-Boiled Fetal Duck (Balut)
It’s still shocking that this dish is a popular street food snack in the Philippines and parts of Asia. In the Philippines, this dish is known as Balut and it consists of a fertilized, soft-boiled fetal duck that has been previously been incubated long enough for a fetus to develop. So, if you peel the shell of this egg, you’ll discover a small body of a dead duck fetus. Absolutely disgusting!
Sheep head is a traditional delicacy in several different regions (Scandinavia, Central Asia, North Africa, and parts of Mediterranean Europe). Depending on the region, you’ll find a smoked sheep head, sheep head soup, sheep eye juice, etc. but despite its final form, all of these variations are some of the worst looking food you’ll ever see.
Hundreds of years ago, when they didn’t have any better options out in the vast wilderness of Mongolia, nomads came up with a unique way of preparing goats and marmots (yes, marmots). They cook these animals from the inside out by hanging them upside down, breaking the legs, letting the blood come out, and filling the torso with hot stones. The final result is disgusting-looking traditional Mongolian barbecue meat named Boodog.
When speaking of worst looking food in the world, we just have to mention the Sardinian cheese casu marzu. After all, you can’t expect much from a dish whose name translates to “rotten cheese”. The preparation method takes perfectly fine pieces of pecorino cheese (that already has a sharp smell, by the way) and turning it into a breeding ground for maggots. The production process is basically a process of finely metered fermentation, a process that needs to follow a very strict methodology according to modern food preparation standards which is why only a handful of companies have a license to produce casu marzu.
Let’s make it clear, the century egg isn’t 100 years old even though it may look like it is. This seemingly unnatural, disgusting Asian delicacy is prepared by preserving duck or chicken eggs in a mix of ash, salt, clay, rice hulls, and quicklime for a few months. During this time, the yolk gets a dark green color while the white turns into black/dark brown jelly with a salty flavor and sharp smell of ammonia.
Khash or kale pache is a traditional dish in several different countries like Afghanistan, Armenia, Mongolia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. Variations of this dish include a stew made of boiled cow or sheep parts, including head, stomach, feet, brain, and trotters. The soup has a rather gross visual appearance but it’s actually surprisingly tasty. Traditionally, it’s served with some salt, pepper, and vinegar and eaten for breakfast.
Even though this is technically a drink, I feel it deserves a special mention on this list. This drink has been prepared for centuries in China and Korea and it includes infusing rice wine with baby mice and letting the mix ferment for a year. When served, the wine is drunk and the mice (or whatever’s left of them) are eaten. People believe this is a health tonic that can be an effective remedy for a myriad of different diseases and conditions.
Callu Sardu is another stinky Sardinian cheese only a handful of companies have a license to produce. Similarly like its cousin, Casu Marzu, this cheese also smells very bad, tastes very bad, and it’s one of the worst looking food you’ll ever find. And its production process is actually even grosser. This cheese is made by tieing the stomach of a baby goat with a rope and filling it with raw mother goat milk and letting the cheese age for a few months. For the final touch, the cheese is either used as a spread of fried in lard.
Truth to be told, geoduck doesn’t even taste bad. It’s not the tastiest thing in the world but it’s not bad either. But just looking at its raw form would be enough for most people to proclaim it as inedible which must make me wonder what did the first person who thought of eating geoduck was thinking!
Even though this slippery, slithery creature is technically eel is a fish, it looks like a mix between large worms and miniature snakes and even though it tastes just fine, its bizarre appearance is enough to make you lose your appetite and include it to this list of worst looking food around the world.
If you’re like me and have Trypophobia, you won’t even be able to look at morel mushrooms (and if you are, sorry for the picture below). I don’t care even if it’s the tastiest delicacy ever, I don’t even want to be in the same room with something that looks like that and not yet think of eating it!
Don’t let the name misguide you; we’ve had enough types of cheese on this list. Head cheese is actually a bizarre delicacy that is prepared by cutting chunks of a pig’s face, turning it into meat jelly, and setting it in aspic. This dish originates from Europe and it’s still quite popular in parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, North Africa, the Caribbean, China, Brazil, and Mexico.
Now, if you’re a meat eater then many of the things you eat had a face once. However, how often have you felt like your meal is staring right at you? If this is something that makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you never order a monkfish. Monkfish actually tastes good and the taste is quite similar to lobster but their appearance (especially when raw) is enough to cause you nightmares.
When most people around the world see corn kernels turning into what looks like tumor-like black spores, they throw it in the garbage. However, in Mexico, this earthy flavor of fungus is a national delicacy that’s used as a filling in numerous different dishes, such as tortillas, quesadillas, and even soups. The dish is named huitlacoche (translation: sleeping excrement).
Unlike some other dishes on this list, there’s nothing disgusting about the preparation or the appearance of the ingredients but the final product looks straight up disgusting. Sardines poking their heads from a pie looks like a horror-movie recipe rather than an actual dish but it’s actually very popular in parts in England. It’s traditionally prepared on 23rd December (Tom Bawcock’s Eve) to honor a great 16th-century sailor who was brave enough to not only go fishing during a big storm but bring a catch big enough to feed the starving population of Cornwall.
Corned beef is an example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. On a glance, it looks like something they would serve in some of the worst prisons in the world but it’s actually a tasty snack. Hence, it’s no surprise that corned beef is featured as an ingredient in different cuisines around the world.
If you’re visiting Scotland, you’ll inevitably notice this thing that looks like the eggs from “Alien” in most Scottish supermarkets. This “savory pudding” is a blend of sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver. I know that it sounds gross and it’s without a doubt one of the worst and grossest looking food in the world, but to be honest, its taste isn’t that bad.
Rambutan is a tropical tree that grows in Southeast Asia that gives birth to one of the most bizarre-looking fruits in the world. The shape of this fruit is so strange, most people think it’s not edible when seeing it for the first time. However, people in this region, especially Malaysia and Indonesia have been eating this fruit and making jam out of it for centuries. The fruit itself is high in vitamin C and has a unique (but not unique bad) flavor.
Another weird-looking dish from this part of the word is tempeh; a dish that consists of fermented soybeans blended into a cake form using a special fungus. I know this sounds bad and its appearance of what seems to be like yellow sticky beans with white mush in between makes things even worse but this dish is actually a tasty staple source of proteins famous in a lot of countries around the world.
Basil seeds drinks
We all know about the health benefits of basil seeds and why they’re used in cuisines around the world. However, when you put basil seeds in water or any other liquid, this looks more like an Alien drink than something an earthling would drink. The tiny seeds look like hundreds of eyes staring at you from your glass. Easily one of the grossest looking drinks you’ll ever see!
If you ever heard about it, you probably know that Aspic is one of the worst looking food you’ll ever see. It’s basically a dish that consists of processed meat, eggs, and vegetables set into gelatine made from meat stock. If anything is worse than this, it’s the fruit version of aspic, also known as jello salad in which the gelatine is made in the same way but it’s filled only with fruits.
Can you imagine how fermented shark meat looks or tastes like? Unless you’re from Iceland, it’s better not to know. Hakarl is a national Icelandic dish with a strong ammonia-rich smell. The preparation includes fermentation and drying the shark meat for 4-5 months in a process that looks like a bunch of giant disgusting cocoons that look they’re just about to hatch.
The Baltic herring is a smaller version of the Atlantic herring that can be found in the North Sea and Swedish supermarkets. This dish consists of a salted, fermented Baltic herring stored in a can. It’s probably one of the saltiest things I’ve ever tried and the reason for this is that the fermentation process requires a lot of salt to stop the fish from rotting.
Cuy (roasted guinea pigs)
Yes, unfortunately, these cuddly creatures are a national delicacy in Peru, and parts of Bolivia and Ecuador. The meat itself is quite tender and high in proteins but what makes this one of the world’s worst looking food is the fact that guinea pigs are served whole with their head still attached.
How about a cake with salami instead of dough, cheese instead of frosting, and mayo and mustard instead of whip cream and topping? This dish is nicknamed ‘the crowning jewel of processed foods’ and obviously, that’s not a compliment. Just the thought of trying something like this is enough to cause someone with a weaker stomach to throw up.
Jellied Bouillon with Frankfurters
I know, I know, this is another gelatine-based product but I promise it’s the last one. This is very likely the German version of aspic that includes unflavoured gelatine in hot beef broth with pieces of wiener inside the jelly. If you ever have an unwanted guest in your house, serving jellied bouillon with Frankfurters is a great way to make sure they never come back.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually like hummus. But that’s because of its taste, not its appearance. I know hummus is very tasty and even healthy but no matter how tasty something is, it just can’t get a pass if it looks like an explosive diarrhea.
Chicken Liver Pâté
Even though the ingredients are very different, the texture of chicken liver pate is very similar to the one of the hummus. Another thing the two dishes have in common is that they aren’t very visually appealing but if you just close your eyes and try to ignore the visual appearance, you’ll understand why both dishes are beloved by locals.
Ginger is probably one of the most common ingredients on this list. We all love ginger and we know how much flavor it can add to our cooking. However, that does not change the fact that it looks like a hand of an old witch or some kind of weird, alien plant.
Truffles look like sheep poop and they look even worse once you cut them in half but they’re not referred to as “the diamond of the kitchen” for nothing. Of course, this doesn’t refer to all truffles, as there are a lot of different species of truffles but the ones that are actually edible are some of the most expensive ingredients you can find and are used in a lot of different cuisines.
Yes, this list features some very popular things we eat every day. Mussels are one of the world’s favorite and most popular plates of seafood but can we really deny that they actually look rather gross? I wonder how they became so popular despite this “visual disadvantage”.
People say you need to have an acquired taste to eat figs and that’s very true. I grew up with a fig in my backyard and still don’t like it. Ever since I was a child, I was a bit scared by its appearance and the first time I actually tried it, I almost threw up. However, even though I don’t like raw figs, I can’t deny the fact that they make an amazing jam.
Would you ever eat a dish whose name translates to slaughter? You probably would if you were from Iceland. This local favorite consists of sheep’s blood, fat, and innards, and is Iceland’s grosser version of the British blood pudding. And if you thought this dish can’t get any more disgusting, it actually can; some people sprinkle sugar on top of their slatur.
Borscht is arguably the most popular soup in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia and a reason for a lot of arguments between Russians, Ukrainians, and Polish about who has the best borscht. But we have to admit that no matter which preparation method you use, borscht isn’t one of the most appetizing dishes in the world. After all, you can’t expect that from a dish whose main ingredient is beetroots.
You can’t ask for visual excellence from a dish whose name translates to ‘stomach stew’. The name is self-explanatory; this dish consists of a stew made of tripe (the muscle walls of the chambers of a cow’s stomach) or cow intestines. Shkembe Chorba is a traditional dish in Turkey, Macedonia, and Bulgaria. Even worse than its appearance is the smell that’s released while being cooked. That’s why the preparation takes 5-6 hours. The final dish, however, is actually rather tasty despite the not-so-appealing appearance.
Shuba (Fur Coat Salad)
Shuba is a Russian salad that consists of several layers of pickled herring, vegetables, eggs, onions, and (sometimes) apples coated with grated beets and mayonnaise. Traditionally, this dish is served for New Year but I don’t think you would like to start the year by eating this unless of course, you’re Russian and you’re used to it.
Sweet Poppy Seed Pasta
When talking about pasta, barely anyone ever associates this savory dish with dessert. However, that’s not the case in Hungary and parts of Romania. The recipe is rather simple; it includes butter, pasta, sugar, and a lot of poppy seeds that make the pasta look like it’s covered by a mix of ants and dirt. Fortunately, Hungarians have a more visually appealing (but still quirky) version of this dish that includes walnuts instead of poppy seeds.
Arroz de Cabidela
This is probably Portugal’s most famous bloody gastronomic delight. Arroz de Cabidela is basically a bowl of poultry/rabbit meat cooked in its own blood. The dish is topped with vinegar and the blood is still quite visible upon serving. The taste might not be bad but the idea of eating an animal cooked in its own blood isn’t the most appealing.
Canned Bear Reindeer
Only in Finland, you can find processed bear or reindeer meat in a can. Bears and reindeer are protected in most parts of Finland but there are parts in which they can be hunted as long as the hunters don’t exceed the quota and this act brings these bizarre cans in Finish supermarkets. People usually eat it on top of a piece of bread or add it to soups.
Smoked Reindeer Heart
This is a popular delicacy in Finland and Northern Sweden and most people consume it as an appetizer. You can order it at a restaurant, buy it frozen at a meat shop or you can even find disgusting-looking packaged versions in some supermarkets. The flavor is actually not bad but the thought of eating the heart of another being, on top of that smoked and packaged like a snack is rather disgusting.
In case you don’t know what this is, goose barnacles are filter-feeding crustaceans that can be found on hard surfaces of rocks and flotsam in and around the ocean intertidal zone. I understand that the quest to getting goose barnacles is very dangerous (the area in Spain where you can find them is nicknamed Coast of Death) and they cost as much as €100 per piece but their appearance that resembles a dragon toenail is just disgusting.
There are a lot of bizarre and strange-looking Japanese dishes but if you ask me this is probably the worst looking food you can find in Japan. Shiokara consists of raw, heavily-salted, fermented viscera of different animals. The visual appearance of this bizarre dish is enough to keep most tourists away but even if that’s not enough, shiokara has some other tourist-defense mechanisms such as the sharp, disgusting smell, and powerful sour-salty flavor that requires a very acquired taste.
I’m sure that even the biggest pancake lovers in the world will agree that these dark brown pancakes look bizarre if not disgusting. And even if you don’t, you’ll surely change your mind after hearing what they’re made of. The two main ingredients of this dish whose name sounds a lot like blood platter are (surprise, surprise) pig blood and molasses. These pancakes are basically circular congealed scabs that can’t be tempting in any case no matter what you put on them as a topping.
Unless you previously visited Japan, you’ll probably be shocked to find out that this wasp-filled cracker is one of the most popular snacks in the city of Omachi. In fact, it’s so popular that it stimulated a lot more people to become wasp hunters and collect wasps for this favorite local delicacy. Would you ever try this?
How did you like this list of worst looking food in the world? Would you try any of them? Let us know in the comments