After a hard day at the office, nothing beats a Casu Marzu with a steaming hot brew of Kopi Luwak. What’s that you say? You don’t want to know.
Here’s a list of ten ancient delicacies, that would seem formidable to westerners like myself.
1. Birds Nest Soup, China.
You wouldn’t necessarily think a birds nest would be edible, but the Chinese use Swifts’ nests to make this soup, known as the ‘Caviar of the East’.
It’s expensive because the swiftlets build the nests during breeding season over a period of 35 days, and nests can only be harvested around three times a year.
The history of bird’s nest consumption can be traced back to China nearly 1,500 years ago during the Tang Dynasty period (A.D. 618-907).
2. Balut, Phillipines.
Fertilized eggs are boiled just before they’re due to hatch, so your yolk oozes out followed by a chicken (or duck) foetus. They are cooked when the foetus is anywhere from 17 days to 21 days, although when the egg is older the foetus begins to have a beak, claws, bones and feathers.
5. Casu Marzu, Sardinia.
This Sardinian cheese is riddled with insect larvae. “Casu Marzu” means ‘rotten cheese’ and is most commonly referred to as ‘maggot cheese.’ It’s now banned for health reasons but can still be available on the black market in Sardinia and Italy.
8. Kopi Luwak, Indonesia.
Kopi Luwak is the rarest, most expensive gourmet coffee in the world. It’s made from the shit of an Indonesian cat-like creature called the “Luwak”. The Luwak eats only the ripest coffee cherries but its stomach can’t digest beans, so they come out whole. The stomach acids and enzymes that perform the fermentation of the beans give the coffee a special aroma.
9. Snake Wine, Vietnam.
Snake wine is a bottle of rice wine with a venomous snake inside. It has “medicinal purposes”, but is probably more useful for display purposes than to drink. According to Wikipedia, “the snake is left to steep in the rice wine for many months to let the poison dissolve in the wine. The ethanol makes the venom inactive so it is not dangerous, and snake wine supposedly has many health benefits. It has a slightly pink colour like a nice rose because of the snake blood in there”.
10. Frog Sashimi, Tokyo.
If you order the frog sashimi from Japanese restaurant Asadachi, the chef will cut open the frog in front of you, and hand you its still-beating heart between a pair of chopsticks. The chef will then slice and dice the frog into a plate of raw-frog sashimi while you take a bite of the warm, pumping heart. Sashimi is chilled raw seafood chopped up, so the rest of your meal will consist of cold, uncooked frog flesh.