Everyone knows that you should never judge a book by it’s cover, and the same is true for food. All around the world are thousands of utterly delicious dishes that often look like something scraped from the inside of a toilet bowl. As anyone who enjoys eating is all too aware, often it’s far better to ignore your eyes and instead think with your stomach.
It can be tricky to persuade the unadventurous to try something new, especially if it looks awful. Nonetheless, as this collection proves, the rewards are well worth it. Here are seven foods that look horrible but taste amazing.
1. Baba Ganoush
It might look like something that squeezed out of your cat after you accidentally fed it something rotten, but this Middle Eastern specialty is totally yummy. A mixture of cooked aubergine, onions, olive oil and a host of exotic herbs and spices, baba ganoush is the ultimate way to kick off any meze heavy meal.
2. Tapioca Pudding
It might look like a bowl of troll snot, but this sweet, runny dessert is deceptively delicious. Made from a simple mixture of tapioca, milk and sugar, tapioca pudding is unpretentious, uncomplicated and far better than it looks at first glance.
Though it might put you in mind of a bag of salad left in the fridge for several weeks, callaloo is a Caribbean specialty that’s full of surprises. Made by mixing amaranth with local taro root, callaloo can be served creamed, as part of a stew or even alongside breakfast depending on your preference. After you’ve braved tasting it, it’s easy to imagine wanting it around the clock.
4. Buddha’s Hand
While it’s true that most fruits tend to follow some sort of recognisable growing blueprint, there are exceptions. An obvious example is the alarming Buddha’s hand, that looks like a mix between a squid and an H.P Lovecraft monster. Used in cooking for its unique zest and aroma, Buddha’s hand is a decidedly creepy way to get one of your five a day.
5. Pea soup
There’s a reason that this stuff featured heavily in The Exorcist. Normally, anything that doesn’t look out of place spewing from the mouth of a possessed 12-year-old shouldn’t be viewed as a potential food source. Pea soup is possibly the only exception. Regularly flavoured with delicious morsels of ham hock, this starter is popular around the world.
6. Wheat Gluten
Most meat isn’t that good looking to start with, but when you try to recreate it from a plant you know things are going to get ugly. Wheat gluten, a staple across Asia and a growing proportion of Western households, is made by continually washing wheat flour dough until a meat-like, granule free texture has been achieved. Though it can be flavoured to taste amazing, the result looks uncannily like the leather tongue of an old boot.
7. Meat loaf
As discussed, meat isn’t likely to win any beauty contests in the near future. What makes matters worse is when aesthetically disinterested cooks decide to fashion it into some sort of fleshy brick and bake it, to the point where it looks more useful as a building material than dinner. It might be an American family favourite, but meatloaf is an ugly duckling of the food world.
Even though these foods are all hideous in their own way, it’s also true that they are incredibly tasty. For anyone looking to prove the old adage about books and covers, they need look no further than their kitchen for some compelling evidence. Whatever you may think, ugly can mean delicious.