5 Strange and Deadly Foods
Eating is an experience we all have in common. Though our tastes all vary, we know the pleasure that a delicious meal can bring. In this ultimate quest for culinary pleasure, we’ve come to eat some pretty weird, and sometimes completely dangerous, things.
In the wild, wild world of Korean cuisine, raw dishes are referred to as “hoe”. Most of these dishes consist of seafood that has been lightly seasoned. However, there is one dish that takes the concept of raw food and kicks it right in the nuts: sannakji, or small, lively octopus. The best sannakji is seasoned with sesame oil and diced into smaller bits because we must fight the octopods on land, lest we be forced to battle them on their own turf in the seas.
Many patrons claim to eat the dish because they enjoy the sensation of the tentacle wiggling down their throat as they swallow. Kind of odd, but understandable: how often do you get to hear the meat moo as you tear into a chunk of porterhouse? But there’s a problem with octopus limbs. Specifically, they’re lined with a series of suction cups. Since chefs don’t have the heart to kill the octopus they serve as sannakji, the suckers are still active. Those who don’t chew their meal thoroughly risk being choked by their dying nemesis. The risk is even higher for the intoxicated, but when is that ever not the case? Drunks just don’t get to have fun in today’s dangerous world.
The ackee has the distinction of being the national fruit of Jamaica as well as having one of the most bizarre aging processes in the realm of fruit. The pear-shaped fruit changes colors when ripe, going from green to red, before opening up to reveal three large and shiny black seeds. The remainder of the fruit’s insides are spongy and white. The fruit’s splitting is the only sure-fire way of knowing it is completely ripe. It’s also a costume change worthy of Ziggy Stardust.
The ackee is highly nutritious as well as incredibly poisonous, a sick joke played by a cruel and unloving god. The only section of the fruit that is safe for consumption is the white innards, and only after it is ripe. Everything else is brimming with the exotic alkaloid toxins, resulting in a combination of seizures, vomiting and fatal hypoglycemia known as Jamaican Vomiting Sickness. If you’re envisioning this properly then you are now terrified of Jamaicans and their vomit.
Ackee also has a secondary means of killing you. If eaten before the fruit has fully ripened, hypoglycin toxins will kick your liver’s ass, preventing it from releasing glucose into your bloodstream, a necessary function for when your blood sugar runs low. This fatality via fruit is so common that it is illegal to import the fresh fruit into the United States, though it is still available in canned form.
In some parts of Europe, frog legs are considered a delicacy. However, keen observers will soon discover that the rest of the frog is completely absent from the menu. So why is that? You’re willing to eat the damn thing’s legs but you’re going to just chuck the rest of the corpse?
Those of you who have ever read an issue of Ranger Rick are well aware that the average frog has a natural defense based entirely on secreting poisons through its skin. When a predator bites into it, it either realizes that the frog just totally messed it up and retreats or swallows it anyway for the sweet, sweet revenge of digestion. Poison is nature’s way of saying “stop eating me, you huge idiot,” and very rarely does one defy nature and get away with it.
Giant bullfrogs are eaten in some parts of Africa and are usually eaten whole. The common bullfrog of choice is native to Namibia and also totes an incredibly effective poison which can shut down your kidneys in minutes. There are several different ways of preparing the bullfrog so it’s safe for consumption, but one mistake and you could end up with a nice, piping hot pot of poison.