People are curious creatures. For as long as we’ve been cooking, we’ve been intent on finding as many different things as possible to shove into our mouths.
This creative and adventurous approach has helped us to discover magical flavour combinations and mystical cookery techniques. However, it has also meant that some fundamentally weird things have ended up as dinner time staples. Gathered from culinary cultures across the world, here are seven of the strangest animals that people still eat today.
The deep sea is home to a host of weird and wacky creatures, most of which look distinctly unappetizing. However, this has not stopped people from attempting to incorporate them into their dinner. Deep fried starfish is a Chinese street food specialty that proves that anything is edible with a bit of perseverance. With a flavour described as “like gone-off seafood sticks”, perhaps starfish also proves that just because something can be eaten, it doesn’t mean it should be.
You could be forgiven for thinking that a portmanteau of two already tasty foodstuffs would itself be doubly delicious. However, one look at a jellyfish is enough to make most people feel queasy. Despite lacking in almost all flavour, jellyfish is nonetheless prized in some Asian countries as an important textural element to traditional dishes.
The spindly legs of a spider do not immediately seem to scream “eat me”. However, for the people of Cambodia, fried spider is considered a matter of local pride. Cooked in a mixture of sugar, chilli, salt and garlic, these crispy tidbits became world famous after Angelina Jolie was recorded eating one on the set of Cambodian thriller, “First They Killed My Father”.
Known by the local name “beondogi”, silkworms are a staple of Korean street food. The pupae of the bug are either steamed or boiled, before being served in plastic cups. So popular is the snack that Korean supermarkets even stock cans full of pre-prepared beondogi for consumption at home.
For many, venomous snakes are far more synonymous with fear than with food. However, in Texas, rattlesnakes are considered a bushmeat specialty. Skinned, seasoned and fried in hot oil, the result is a mild meat that looks like a particularly boney meat. While the habit of harvesting important links in the local food chain needs to be carefully controlled, those who’ve tasted snake meat swear by its quality.
Looking like a cross between a rat, a beaver and a sabre tooth tiger, coypus are probably the most ferocious looking of all rodents. Originally from South America, this invasive species has been introduced across North America and thrived. In order to protect local wildlife, a programme in the United States is attempting to persuade people to eat coypu meat, which apparently tastes like rabbit.
Combining the unappetising look of spiders and the venomous fear-factor of snakes, scorpions are the last thing that many people would consider eating. However, communities all over the world consider these edible arthropods tasty delicacies. For many species, the stingers lose their toxicity during the cooking process, rendering the animal both harmless and delicious.
While not every creature can taste delicious, many of these recipes prove that when it comes to food, you should never judge a book by its cover. If you aren’t prepared to try, who knows what tasty treats you may be missing out on.