There are foods that will make you sick by their smell. Let’s try to open our mind to some new experiences as we remind ourselves that a particular smell we find offensive may not be so for others. Here are some of the foulest smelling international foods.
By the name itself, there's no question about its smell, which is said to resemble that of rotting garbage or manure. A popular midnight snack in Oriental Asia, particularly in Taiwan, China and Indonesia, it is made from tofu marinated in a brine mixture of fermented milk, dried shrimp, vegetables, mustard greens and herbs for as long as several months; and can be eaten cold, steamed, fried or stewed.
Popularly known as the "King of Fruits" in Southeast Asia, durian is distinguished not only for its size and thorn-covered husk, but definitely also for its repulsive stench, which is best described as a mixture of feces and vomit. In spite of its odor, it tastes heavenly. As the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace puts it, it flesh is like "a rich custard highly flavored with almonds," while English novelist Anthony Burgess compared his experience of eating durian to "eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory." Durian is widely used to flavor an assortment of sweet and savory Southeast Asian cuisines as candies, biscuits and ice creams. However, due to its smell, it is banned from establishments as airports and hotels.
Limburger cheese is a high calorie and cholesterol-rich German/Belgium dairy product well-known for its pungent aroma. It is made from pasteurized goat's milk fermented in the bacterium Brevibacterium linens, the very same bacterium found on human skin and partly responsible for body odor. So, if by chance you walked past someone who hasn't taken a bath in a month and thought if only such a scent could be turned into something edible, then, take heart, treat yourself with some Limburger cheese!
Natto is a popular traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans, most usually eaten during breakfast to accompany rice. Commonly used as an ingredient of miso soup, salad and even ice cream, it has a somewhat nutty and salty taste that somehow contradicts its rather strong ammoniac smell. Supported by medical studies, natto contains a chemical enzyme, aptly called nattokinase, which can reduce the likelihood of blood clotting, and thus, can help to prevent heart attack and strokes. It is also rich in vitamin K, which can assist in bone formation, thereby preventing osteoporosis.
Also called as "soured herring", surströmming is a Swedish delicacy consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Freshly caught herring are cleaned, placed in barrels to be fermented for about 2 months, and then canned for another 6 to 12 months of fermentation. Gases accumulate considerably inside the cans, building up an enormous amount of pressure that causes the once cylindrically-shaped cans to swell into rounded ones. Several major airlines have banned the fish citing the possibility of the pressurized cans exploding in-flight. The dish is often eaten outdoors due to its smell, which is a blend of amazing aromas including rancid-butter butyric acid, pungent propionic acid, rotten-egg hydrogen sulfide and sour acetic acid. It is normally eaten with bread topped with butter, chopped onions and boiled potatoes and served a glass of cold milk or beer. Though the Swedes do confess that it may not be the world's best smelling food, it certainly makes up for its taste.
Also known as hundred-year egg and thousand-year egg, century egg is a Chinese delicacy made from duck, quail or chicken eggs preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, lime, salt and rice straw. After the process is completed for several months, the yolk becomes a dark soft, greenish substance that exudes an odor similar to ammonia and sulfur, while the white becomes a dark brownish transparent jelly with little flavor. It can be eaten without extra preparation as a dim sum or side dish; and is popularly used to garnish rice congee or porridge.
A staple of the Korean diet, kimchee is made of vegetables, principally cabbages and radishes, fermented in brine and a mixture of seasonings as garlic, scallions, onions, chili pepper and ginger. Kimchee smells much like sweaty feet. And the bad news is: eating it also makes one smell pretty much the same as the pungent spices such as chili and garlic makes the odor ooze out of your pores even long after you have consumed it. Having a variety of vegetables as its main ingredients, it is reputable for being a healthy food as it contains very high concentration of dietary fiber that can aid digestion, and is rich in various vitamins and minerals that may possibly reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Hákarl, a traditional Icelandic delicacy, is made from Greenland or basking shark, which is very poisonous in its unprocessed state due to its high uric acid content. The shark is fermented for about 6 to 12 weeks under the ground covered with gravel and topped with stones until all fluids are squeezed out of the body; and then hung to dry for several months. It has a particularly formidable ammoniac smell, much akin to many cleaning products; and a taste that will get your gag reflexes going in no time. Hákarl is generally served in small cubes on toothpicks with a shot of the local brandy brennivin that can somehow ease the eating process. Renowned chef Anthony Bourdain from the Travel Channel hit show "No Reservations" described the dish as "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing."