Food is both a necessity and a luxury. We can have simple meals to keep us going or lavish extravaganzas of food piled high in search of the tasty thrills of fine dining, but sometimes people go a little too far in their pursuit of the next great taste.
As something needed to keep you alive, it seems a little counter-productive to eat things that may kill you but those looking for luxury food actually pursue the thrill of these dangerous delicacies. Here we look at a few of the deadliest.
1. Akee and Saltfish
A traditional Jamaican dish, many people will have had this dish of salt cod and sautéed onion, scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes, and boiled ackee fruit, whilst growing up and be claiming that it never hurt them, and that is most probably true.
However, the issue comes when the ackee fruit is picked before being ripe or if it is prepared incorrectly as it contains hypoglycin alkaloid toxins, which can cause seizures, vomiting, comas, and even death in something known as 'Jamaican Vomiting Sickness'. Most of the stuff imported into the U.S, UK and E.U is heavily monitored so it should be alright.
2. Baked Bullfrog
Although frog may not be high on everybody's list of things to try, others might be quite intrigued by the Namibian dish that sees giant bullfrogs become the main part of the meal.
Mostly harmless if a mature adult frog is cooked, but should the frog be premature, it carries a toxin that can lead to kidney failure. If curious about the taste and texture of frog, Frogably best to stick to other cuisines that use non-dangerous types.
A starchy root from South America that acts a bit like a yam, it is commonly found in the U.S and Europe in bread or chip form and is often used in dishes from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and West Africa making it one of the most consumed carbohydrates worldwide.
You'd think, with that many people eating it, it would be absolutely fine and, for the most part, it is unless consumed raw because it contains cyanogenic glucosides, which trigger the release of hydrogen cyanide. In its preparation, it has to be soaked and fermented for at least a day before it’s cooked, but some sweet varieties of cassava inherently contain less cyanogenic glucosides and are safe to eat after simply cooking them thoroughly.
4. Casu Marzu
Native to the Italian island of Sardinia, Casu Marzu- which in English translates to 'rotten cheese'- certainly puts a new spin on the word 'rotten.' In fact, this food is so disgusting live maggots inhabit the cheese. The reason being is because the worms promote advanced levels of fermentation and break down the cheese's fats, giving the dish a fluid texture. When served, the maggots, which can be up to 0.3 inches long, have been known to jump as high as 6 inches!
It should come as little surprise then that this food is banned in its homeland to adhere to EU hygiene laws, but fans of this food can still find it on the black market, where it often goes for double the price of a traditional block of pecorino cheese. As such, you have to eat the maggots whilst living as they become toxic when dead with the risk, of course, being maggots burrowing into your stomach or worse, enteric myiasis, a disease that includes severe stomach cramps and nausea.
Because of its infamous reputation, Casu Marzu has long been the source of fascination among food buffs and was featured on the US TV show Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmerman. Describing the taste, Zimmerman said the cheese was "so ammoniated it actually scorches your tongue a little bit."
Fesikh is an Egyptian dish that uses the saltwater fish mullet that is then sun-dried and cured. Typically served on the holiday of Sham el-Nessim, many have no issue with the food, but when prepared improperly it can become dangerous.
Bacterial infection from this fish can lead to botulism and paralysis, and so it is best to bathe the fish in vinegar before serving it in order to reduce this risk.
6. Fugu Sashimi
Fugu is a highly sort after delicacy in Japan, and other parts of Asia and people will pay hundreds of dollars in order to taste this light, fish treat, but fugu is actually a type of poisonous blowfish portions of lit — and especially the livers — contain tetrodotoxin, a toxin 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide.
Chefs that serve Fugu must undergo intensive training and knife skills in how to cook, cut and prepare the fish and this can last up to three years. However, people still eat it, and people still die from it with 23 deaths recorded from it in Japan between 2000 and 2009.
Shark meat is popular in parts of the globe and is increasing in desire as well. Hákarl is an Icelandic dish similar to Jewish-deli style white fish, but it is incredibly pungent and uses the shark meat that is found in Icelandic waters.
The shark is fermented and dried for four to five months as part of a special Icelandic fermenting process, but over this period uric acid and trimethylamine can build up in the flesh which can lead to an experience akin to extreme drunkenness. If too much is consumed, it can be very dangerous and lead to severe damage.
8. Inky Cap Mushroom Soup
Regular Inky Cap Mushroom soup is perfectly harmless and pretty delicious if you like liquefied fungus based dishes, however, a lot of confusion occurs with the ingredients as Shaggy Inky Cap Mushrooms are quite often mistakenly used.
Again, harmless if consumed on its own but if combined with alcohol, it turns toxic and can cause something called Antabuse syndrome which brings on vomiting and heart palpitations. The more alcohol you drink, the worse your symptoms will be.
9. Monkey Brains
Predominately enjoyed by Chinese and Indonesians, monkey brains are thought to cure impotence. Resultantly, monkeys native to the respective countries have become prized commodities, leading to a rapid fall in their numbers. Cooked or served raw, some have even been known to consume the food straight out of a monkey’s skull.... while it’s still alive.
However, consuming the nerve tissues of any animals can be problematic and eating brain matter can to contracting transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which are fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
For those who don't like slimy things that move, then you may want to skip this one. Popular in Korea, 'san-nakji', is a raw octopus that has been chopped alive before immediately being served with a variety of spices. As the dish is served straight after the killing, the nerve endings on the octopus are still active, meaning the tentacles can still be seen moving around the plate.
As such the tentacles suckers still work and have been known to cling to the mouth or throat when eating thus causing a major choking hazard as the block windpipes and airways.