Waste not, want not, right? That seems to be the reason people started eating things like eyeballs, century-old eggs, fish sperm and other questionable (and often reproductive) animal parts in the first place. But while the thought of consuming these things makes most of us (especially Westerners) feel a bit nauseous, they’re considered delicious delicacies in various other parts of the world. Here are seven bizarre dishes straight out of the nightmares of vegetarians and vegans. Check out our previous list, too, which includes goat fetus, maggoty cheese and rotting shark.
Most people’s first choice in a meal probably wouldn’t include a substance squirted out by male fish when they’re looking to reproduce. ‘Milt’ is a friendly-sounding word for something that’s really kind of gross: semen. The milt of certain species of fish, such as code, anglerfish and monkfish, is contained within fleshy sacs that Serious Eats describes as ‘as soft as an egg custard,’ with ‘a slight sweetness and just the faintest hint of its oceanic roots.’
The massive eyeballs of tuna fish can be found staring up at you from the ice-packed displays of Chinese and Japanese markets. Said to taste like squid, it’s typically boiled. An adventurous eater at the blog Flee Alaska tried one out, saying “there was a translucent, jelly-like ball inside that turned into a hard, white ball. It tasted a little like a hard-boiled egg does, so I’m guessing that it was mostly protein. It actually didn’t taste too bad.”
Eaten throughout China and Nepal, yak penis is just one of many species of animal phalluses that are consumed around the world. The consumption of this particular animal part is rooted in the idea that it increases virility; yak penis is supposedly full of protein, vitamins, phosphorus, iron and testosterone. It’s cooked in hot chili oil, and as you can see in the photo above, it’s disturbingly… long.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
We Americans have our weird food, too, including the sexual organs of animals. Rocky Mountain Oysters are bull calf testicles that are typically deep-fried in breading and served as an appetizer with cocktail sauce. It’s mostly found in areas of the U.S. and Canada where cattle ranching is prevalent, and castration of young animals is common.
Now doesn’t that look delicious? Granted, this particular sheep head hasn’t been cooked yet, but once it is, many cultures find it to be an immensely enjoyable dish. Called ‘pacha’ in Iraq, boiled sheep’s head is cooked slowly until the water turns into a sort of stew; it’s often served alongside the sheep’s stomach, which is filled with rice and lamb. The head is served whole so that you peel off the flesh until all that’s left on your plate is a macabre skull, teeth and all.
‘Insect caviar’ is the eggs of giant black ants, or escamoles. Harvesting them is no easy task, since these particular ants, Liometopum, are highly venomous with a particularly painful bite. But the ancient Aztecs found the process worthwhile for the cottage-cheese-like consistency of the eggs. They’re often sauteed with onion and garlic or mixed with guacamole and eaten with tacos.
Why in the world would anyone eat a smelly old egg on purpose? You should have learned not to ask that question by now. Different strokes, and all that. Century egg is a Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a bizarre mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for several weeks to several months until the egg is transformed, with the yolk becoming dark green to gray. They’re eaten on their own or as a side dish, or sometimes sliced and added to tofu or noodle dishes.