Have you ever heard of Kenka, the Japanese place in the East Village that serves bull penis? Yes, you read that right. Right in the heart of Manhattan lies a restaurant famous for its, um, progressive menu and its dedication to serving up exotic delicacies. While penis may not seem particularly appetizing to westerners, it's consumed all over Asia for its purported effects on virility and its various (possibly dubious) health benefits. Still, there's a certain queasiness attached to the idea of eating an animal's member that most of us can't get past. Call it fear or call it empathy, whatever prevents most us from indulging in this dish is clearly deeply rooted in our western psyches. That said, bull penis isn't even that strange compared to some of the foods being consumed in parts unknown. With that in mind, here's a list of the ten strangest foods being served around the world today. Warning: these dishes are not for the faint of heart.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Fried up, and served with side suace
Sticking with the theme of bull genitalia, rocky mountain oysters are an Appalachian staple made from the testicles of calves. Invented by ranchers in the Old West, these oysters are battered and deep fried and served in a manner similar to chicken tenders. They say anything tastes good if it's smothered in batter and steeped into a vat of boiling hot vegetable oil, and Rocky Mountain oysters certainly put that theory to the test.
Here's lookin' at you, kid
A Japanese delicacy, tuna eyes have been described as having a taste that resembles mussels and a texture similar to that of egg whites. While this dish is cheap and relatively easy to make (just boil and serve), some people have a problem making eye contact with their appetizers.
A-ping (Fried zebra tarantulas)
Not your typical street fair...
During the terrible reign of the Khmer Rouge, food supplies in Cambodia were short, and out of necessity, villagers turned to capturing and frying Thai zebra tarantulas. Fried spiders are now a mainstay of Cambodian street food, tasting like a strange combination of chicken and fish. It should be noted however, that the abdomen of these spiders often contains unhatched eggs and excrement, on top of gooey brown internal organs.
Perhaps your new on-the-go snack?
Jing Leed (grasshopper) is one of the most popular snack foods in Thailand, and is usually fried and sold on the street. These little guys are packed full of protein and essential nutrients. It seems like people are eating bugs everywhere but in the US. Maybe it's time America gets with the program.
Tastes like bacon?
Edible, fried worm larvae. Yum. Sago larvae is described as a having a creamy taste when eaten raw and a crispy bacon-like flavor when cooked. Never mind the fact that they look like The Very Hungry Caterpillar's cousins, these worms are a specialty in Thailand and Malaysia, although variations on Sago Delight can be found all over Southeast Asia.
Some think the salmonella risk is worth it
This one is hard to justify, especially considering all of the health risks associated with eating raw chicken, but chicken sashimi is huge in Japan right now. If you can push past the Salmonella risk and aren't afraid to get some horrible stomach parasite, the restaurants who serve this stuff insist it's really good. I think I'll pass on this one.
Cooked star fish
Popular in China, and served on a stick, starfish are fried and meant to be cracked open. Diners are meant to slurp out the innards, which have consistency that's somewhere between ground beef and toothpaste. That sounds, um, appetizing.
Drunken shrimp soup
If you're someone who has a moral issue with boiling lobsters alive, drunken shrimp are probably not for you. This dish, common in China, is prepared by paralyzing live shrimp with ethanol, and then eating them while they're still alive. Poor little fellas.
Nutritious, and salty!
Served in Southern Africa, the stinkbug Encosternum delegorguei is spiced and salted and eaten as a delicious snack food, kind of like all-natural Andy Caps. Apparently, like a lot of the other bugs on this list, they are an extremely nutritious form of protein. This article has quickly devolved into an argument for why you should adopt a diet similar to that of a house spider.
Khash stew, served up hot
I saved the best for last. Khash is a boiled stew made from all of the parts of the cow you didn't know were food, including, but not limited to, the brain, the hoofs, the stomach, and the skull. This Middle Eastern dish is eaten from Greece to Mongolia and everywhere in between. I guess appearance isn't everything.
Alright, you've been armed with a list of foods you've never tried before. It's time to prove how adventurous of an eater you are and whether or not you've got the stomach to handle the world's strangest delicacies. Stay away from the chicken sashimi though. I'm still not convinced about that one.
Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. Website: https://matthewdclibanoff.journoportfolio.com/ Twitter: @mattclibanoff