Normally when things smell terrible, we tend to give them a wide berth. For some reason, this logic doesn’t seem to extend to food. Some of the planet’s favourite dishes are covered in all manner of unholy, rotting putrescence that smells more like it belongs in a morgue than as part of a meal. Yet, for some reason, these foul foods crop up on menus time and time again.
Stinky ingredients come in all shapes and sizes. To help you get your head around a foodiverse full of odorous possibilities, with compiled a collection of some of the most putrid comestibles on earth. Pinch your nose and dive in. These are the nine smelliest foods on the face of the planet.
9. Stinky Tofu
Stinky by name and stinky by nature, this Chinese delicacy is not for the faint hearted. Made from a mixture of bean curd, fermented milk, meat and vegetables, the smell has been likened to a mixture of human faeces and garbage.
8. Vieux-Boulogne Cheese
Scientifically proven to be the world’s smelliest cheese, this rancid heavy weight is highly prized in its native Northern France. The reason for its powerful smell is the dipping of the cheese in beer part way through production.
Probably the most infamous thing to ever come out of Iceland, hakarl is made from the rotten carcass of a dead Greenland shark. Hung in the open air for months on end, hakarl is notorious for its potent ammonia flavour, causing it to taste like concentrated urine.
A rotten food served inside another rotten food was never likely to give you something delicious. Hailing from Greenland, kiviak involves stuffing little auks inside a seal corpse, burying it for several months until the insides liquify, then removing the body and eating the birds. Feel free to ask for seconds.
Compared to others on this list, hongeo looks vaguely normal. Do not be fooled. Much like hakarl, this Korean delicacy is made when uric acid seeps into fish skin, giving it its gag inducing smell and taste of unscrubbed toilet.
Banned from public transport and hospitals for its astonishingly powerful aroma, the “king of fruits” is not something to be taken lightly. With a smell variably likened to old gym kit, petrol stations and death, there are many layers to the durian’s stench.
3. Limburger Cheese
Arguably the most famous of the world’s smelly cheeses, what makes limburger so unbearable is where its whiff comes from. The cheese is made from the same bacteria that creates human body odour, which makes it the equivalent of sitting next to someone in a sauna who hasn’t washed for several years.
Literally translated from Japanese as “That Stinks”, kusaya is another example of what happens when you let fish fermentation get out of hand. What makes this food unique is that fillets are cured in the same brine that may have been used over and over for more than 100 years. That’s a century of old fish guts congealing in a bottom of a barrel and flavouring your food.
The daddy of dreadful smelling food, surstromming is so awful that it has to be opened underwater to prevent the reek from spreading. The Swedish dish of fermented Baltic herring contains just enough salt to stop it rotting, but not enough to stop it developing one of the worst smells on earth.
For reasons unknown, some people get a real kick out of eating incredibly smelly foods. But, even for diehard fans, some of these dishes are well beyond the limit. Even if you feel curious, for your own sake, we suggest you steer well clear.