I’ll try most things when it comes to food. I have a very wide range of tastes although I actually can’t stand Broccoli. I thought I was being very avant garde when I first had chicken’s feet and baked eel back in the early 90s and when I tried fish head curry in Sri Lanka but it seems that there’s a contest among the world’s chef to find interesting and new foods to introduce us to. There are however certain traditional dishes that have featured in some diets for thousands of years and to be honest I don’t think you’ll ever get me to eat them. I’ve also noticed that many of them are fish so this list concentrates on fruits de mar and I’ll cover non-fishy things another time. BTW have you noticed how when people try something new they invariably say it tastes like chicken?
1. Death by Fish
I always knew the Japanese were a slightly bonkers race. Why would a national delicacy be a deadly poisonous fish? Apparently 300 odd people die a year from eating Fugu (blowfish) and that’s even with it having to be prepared by licensed chefs. Nutso.
2. Revenge on Jaws
Shark actually isn’t too bad although I know some people think that fishing for shark just for the fins is not ecologically sound. But shark that has been buried in the ground and left to ferment for six months – gross! It’s often served with a potato wine called Black Death. Figures.
3. Aye Aye, No No
Fish eyes are a delicacy in the Philippines and some other parts of South East Asia. The recommended method is to pop one in your mouth, suck vigorously to get out all the juices than spit out the cornea. Charming.
4. Fish in Wine Sauce
Live shrimp swimming in a bowl of rice wine. The Chinese capture them with chopsticks and bite the head off. I think you're also supposed to eat the head. Forget the head, I think I’ll pass on the body too.
5. It Stinks of Fish
Surströmming vies with the South East Asian (why does so much of this stuff come from that region?) fruit Durian, to be the smelliest food in the world. This truly revolting sounding Swedish delicacy is fermented herring. Under-salted herring is packed in a wooden barrel for a couple of months then when it is fermented it is canned. The smell is like a room full of rotten eggs or a public urinal that hasn’t been cleaned for ten years. Once it’s canned it continues to ferment so much that you can’t open the can indoors. You have to do it outside, in a plastic bag or even under water because of the juice that shoots out thanks to the pressure build up. Now you know what to give as a gift to your least favourite person. Just be miles away when they open the can.
6. I’m Not Lying
In Norway they soak fish in lye. Yet another stinking concoction. There’s a pizzeria in Minnesota that will make you a lutefish pizza but you’ll have to pay $1million to compensate them for the smell.
7. Fish Jelly Anyone?
Britain isn’t really known for weird food, most people think fish and chips and warm beer but the traditional cockney dish, jellied eels deserves to be on this list. I don’t mind baked or smoked eel but this horrible boiled stuff with lumps of gelatinous goo sticking to it is eewwy.
I’ve left out all the variations there are of dried fish pastes from South East Asia, the fish sauces and raw fish dishes from Japan but it does seem that funny fish dishes do appear all over the world. Pickled herrings are a major feature of Northern Europe and Scandinavia and lots of cultures like to suck on prawn heads or make soups out of fish heads. I think I’ll stick to fish and chips. Some people might have stuck caviar on this list but I love that so I’m quite happy to leave it out. If anyone has eaten anything fishy that’s pretty weird please do tell us.
Top Photo Credit: SydneyWalker