Hungry? Then perhaps you won't want to read this lest we spoil your appetite! Or maybe you are an enthusiast of the following worst smelling foods and you find the rest of us as culinary nanny-panny wimps. Either way... Bon Appétit!
- Stinky Tofu - Ah, the infamous stinky tofu. A very common midnight snack in Asia, stinky tofu is made from fermented tofu and can be eaten cold, steamed, stewed or fried. So what does it smell like? A kinder description given by fans is a smell that resembles rotting garbage or manure. Yum!
- Durian - This fruit found in Southeast Asia is known as the "King of Fruits" but is probably the only fruit to be banned from certain public areas for its awful smell. Lonely Planet's World Food series main writer Richard Sterling describes the smell of the Durian best
"... its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia."
- Century Egg - Also known as a 100 Year Old Egg or the 1000 Year Old egg is a Chinese delicacy made from duck, chicken or quail eggs. The eggs are preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice straw for several weeks to several months. If you like eating things that smell like sulfur AND ammonia... the Century Egg is right up your alley.
- Natto - If you like ammonia with your Rice Crispies... you might like Natto. Natto is a popular and traditional Japanese food item most commonly eaten at breakfast. It is made from fermented soybeans and is typically eaten with rice.
- Limburger Cheese - Have you ever walked by someone who hasn't bathed in about a month and say "wow, if only they could make that smell into something edible!" Well, take delight and serve yourself some Limburger Cheese! Once you take a bite of this German/Belgium dairy delight, you will get even more excited when you learn that this cheese is fermented in the bachterium Brevibacterium linens; Oh boy... now if I'm not mistaken, that's the same bacteria found on human skin and partially responsible for B.O.!! Yummy, Yummy. Can't get enough of stinky cheese? You might also want to try these - Epoisses, Munster d'Alsace, Pont L'Eveque, Stinking Bishop, Taleggio and Brother Laurent.
- Hákarl - Oh boy... not only does this smell bad but those who have never tasted this treat will probably gag involuntarily. Hákarl (also known as Fermeneted Shark or Greenlandic Shark) is one of Iceland's national foods. The shark used in Hákarl is poisonous if not processed due to it's high uric acid content. The shark is fermented for about 6 - 12 weeks underground and then hung to dry. The smell of the Hákarl smells like ammonium based cleaning products and tastes even worst. Hákarl is usually served in small cubes on toothpicks with a shot of the local liquor, brinnivin to make the eating process easier. It's like an Icelandic Tequila Shot... only a hell of a lot worse. Anthony Bourdain, of the hit TV show No Reservations, calls Hákarl "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing".
- Shrimp Paste - or Shrimp Sauce, is a common ingredient in many Southeast Asian dishes. It is made from ground shrimp that has been fermented, sun dried then cut into small blocks. The paste is meant to be used and cooked in meals but not eaten raw. The smell is repulsive, especially by many westerners.
- Surströmming - Also known as "soured Baltic herring", is a Swedish delicacy consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Perhaps the only food banned by airlines due to it's possibility of exploding in-flight, the bacteria used to preserve/ferment Surströmming causes an immense amount of pressure in the tin can. Cans of Surströmming can be found in Swedish supermarkets literally bulging at the seams. Surströmming is a mixture of some wonderful aromas including pungent propionic acid, rotten-egg hydrogen sulfide, rancid-butter butyric acid, and vinegary acetic acid.
- Lutefisk - Lutefisk is made from air-dried Whitefish that has been soaked in Lye (ewww... gross!) and water solutions for up to 14 days. Fans of Garrison Keillor might remember a passage in his book Lake Wobegon Days, about Lutefisk:
"Every Advent we entered the purgatory of lutefisk, a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat. We did this in honor of Norwegian ancestors, much as if survivors of a famine might celebrate their deliverance by feasting on elm bark. I always felt the cold creeps as Advent approached, knowing that this dread delicacy would be put before me and I’d be told, "Just have a little." Eating a little was like vomiting a little, just as bad as a lot." "Every Advent we entered the purgatory of lutefisk, a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat. We did this in honor of Norwegian ancestors, much as if survivors of a famine might celebrate their deliverance by feasting on elm bark. I always felt the cold creeps as Advent approached, knowing that this dread delicacy would be put before me and I’d be told, "Just have a little." Eating a little was like vomiting a little, just as bad as a lot."
Do you now of any other food that stinks? Let us hear 'em!