News Column

Weird Food from Around the World

November 9, 2013

Vicky Baker

Kopi luwak: defecated coffee

Sometimes known as "cat-poo coffee", this so-called delicacy comes from beans that have been eaten and defecated by an Indonesian civet, a creature that looks like a cross between a mongoose and, if you squint, a cat. For some time, kopi luwak was hyped as a hot new trend. The exotic "urgh" factor pushed prices up to pounds 60 per cup and it was featured as a do-before-you-die experience in the 2007 film The Bucket List. "You're sh*tting me?" said an incredulous Jack Nicholson, causing Morgan Freeman to fall into hysterics on his death bed. However, no one was laughing when a recent BBC investigation uncovered the cruel treatment coffee-producing civets often receive. Harrods has since taken it off the shelves.

Sannakji: live baby octopus

If watching your plate of food actively wriggle in front of you doesn't turn your stomach, then nothing will. In Korea, sannakji is a dish of live baby octopus (nakji). It's the residual nerve activity that keeps it moving and it is typically served drizzled with sesame oil. Eat it at your own risk: the active suction cups have been known to get stuck to the mouth or throat while swallowing, causing choking. Octopus's revenge?

Chapulines: toasted grasshoppers

Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca put grasshoppers on the menu at its London South Bank outlet earlier this year and, before long, we were getting helpful guides on where to eat insects all around the city. Naturally, this was shortly followed by an insect-only, pop-up supper club. In Mexico, grasshoppers, known as chapulines, are not just a passing fad. Served toasted with seasoning, they have long been popular in Oaxaca (pronounced Wahaca, hence the restaurant name).

Rocky Mountain oysters: testicles

Unless you have fantasies about participating in a bushtucker trial on I'm Celebrity. . . Get Me Out of Here!, give this dish a wide berth. Rocky Mountain oysters have nothing to do with those high-class delicacies from the bottom of the sea: they are plain-and-simple bulls' balls. Served with cocktail sauce and disguised with thick batter, the dish is often used for catching out unsuspecting tourists in Oklahoma and Texas. See also: "prairie oysters" in Canada.

Balut: duck embryo

Balut is a fertilised duck egg, between 14 and 21 days' old, and a popular street food in the Philippines. In August, two Filipino restaurants in New York joined forces for an all-you-can-eat buffet that's best avoided - their second balut-eating contest. This year's winner, with the dubious claim to fame, necked 27. Balut is also eaten in Vietnam and Cambodia.

(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

Original headline: 'This coffee tastes like crap' More weird food from around the world

Source: Guardian (UK)