Halloween is in the air, so you know the world’s bringing out all the spooky that it can. While we might be terrified of the usual ghosts and ghouls, we’re at least pretty sure that they’re not real. Do you know what is real, though? These dishes that people all over the world would consider delicacies. While it may seem spine-chilling, it’s part of the whole travel experience. What better way is there to experience the most extreme side of a culture than to sample their weirdest dishes?

1. Casu Marzu - The Cheese That Fights Back

Yummy and Squirmmy

We all know that cheese, in its fancier forms, doesn’t exactly smell as heavenly as we’d want. The good folks of Sardinia, Italy decided that this wasn’t hardcore enough and created Casu Marzu. Before we continue, we’d like to let you know that this dish is actually illegal in Sardinia, most likely because of the live maggots that are placed in it in order to pull off that stinky decomposing smell that we as a species seem to just love when associated with cheese. The maggots themselves are pretty hardy and can jump up to 6 inches high and can pass through your gut undigested which can lead to a host of intestinal problems. The dish itself knows that it’s something that should not exist and actually lets out a liquid called lagrima (Italian for tears) when prodded.

2. Odori Don - Lovecraft’s Favorite

Release the (yummy) kraken!

Let’s go somewhere closer to home and to our pop-culture fads: Japan. Remember how amazing and appetizing those dishes looked in Spirited Away? How hungry they made you and how badly you wanted to go to the land of the rising sun in order to have some of that good tamago? Well, it turns out that Japan is also pretty good at creating food from our nightmares; enter the Odori don aka a rice bowl with a flailing squid on top. Even though the animal has already had its brain taken out (thereby killing it) before it ends up on your plate, the whole death thing is so fresh that once salt touches the animal, all the neurons and muscles spring back to life, thus the nightmarish dance. The real danger though is the fact that those tentacles can still latch on to the inside of someone’s neck and choke said someone.

3. Tiet Canh - Familiar But Not

That isn’t ketchup.

Dinuguan is a dish that’s pretty near and dear to our hearts and tummies. A staple in multiple areas of the Philippines, this dish is a lot like Europe’s blood sausages. While the whole blood thing might be enough to freak some people out, at least the blood is cooked. Vietnam decided that this wasn’t hardcore enough so they came up with tiet canh which is a lot like dinuguan but with raw blood. While this may sound like a hardcore way to gain a lot of protein, it’s also an insane way to get bird flu because once again, raw duck blood. It’s an easily accessible street-food in Vietnam and on the plus side, sometimes they don’t use duck; the downside, however, is that they sometimes replace duck with dog. Bummer.

 4. Pacha - Is the Mafia Angry?

Look for the actual dish at your own risk.

Remember that scene from The Godfather where one of the old guys wakes up with his horse’s head on his bed? Imagine that but with a boiled sheep’s head and people actually looking forward to the severed thing on their plates. This semi horror-prop is what the people of Iraq call Pacha. Fortunately, everything on this thing is cooked, now you just have to deal with the slowly revealed horror that is the grinning skull that’s left of your meal. We’re sure it’s actually a pretty tasty dish, it’s just having to stare at what most cultists would call a living room ornament that sort of gets to us.

If you’re up for some extreme eating yourself, be sure to stay insured during your travels! Nothing is scarier than visiting a foreign land with no insurance. Drop by our International Travel Protect page to learn more about our travel insurance and to get your quotation today. You can also reach us at (02)8830-6000 or via our Facebook page.

The author of this article contributed in their own personal capacity. All data provided here are for informational purposes only. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of COCOGEN Insurance.