By Smitii Nayak.
All the adventurous foodies out there, listen up! This is it – a list of the 10 deadliest dishes from around the globe. This list is not for the faint-hearted but for the daring diners, bold enough to take up the risk, even with the threat of death hovering over them. Consider yourself one of these daring diners? Take note of these dishes to venture on more food adventures in the future!
Ackee : Jamaica
A round, red and pear shaped fruit, Ackee is the national food of Jamaica. It is superficially harmless and quite edible, unless eaten when the fruit isn’t ripe, when it is over ripe, when it has not been cooked properly or if any other part of the fruit is eaten save for the flesh surrounding the seeds. If any such event does happen, expect a lethal dose of toxins to be let loose in your body, which has the capacity to subdue your glucose production and reduce the sugars in the body to dangerously low levels, causing the Jamaican Vomiting Sickness. If you ever decide to try out the national fruit of Jamaica, make sure to have a Jamaican around who can be of help in case anything unfortunate happens.
Sannakji : Korea
If your visit to Korea needs a bit more of thrill, a quick way to spice it up is by trying out the Korean delicacy, Sannakji, which doesn’t need much time to be served. After all, the chef only needs to cut up a live baby octopus and season it with sesame. Immediately served after that, if the sight of the still wriggling tentacles doesn’t terrify you (each leg of an octopus has its own mind, remember?), wait till you eat the pieces of the octopus. Every small piece you eat, if not chewed down quickly, has the ability to utilise its suckers well enough to choke you by gripping tightly onto the sides of your throat. If you want to avoid being one of the six people that die every year owing to Sannakji, do chew the octopus thoroughly before swallowing it.
Casu Marzu : Italy
Italy has a lot to offer to the tourists that flock there, from the historic remains of Pompeii to the beautiful beaches to cheese fermented by maggots. Why the Casu Marzu is charmingly referred to as a ‘delicacy’ by the people of Italy rather than falling under the title of ‘disgusting’ beats me! Prepared using Sardinian sheep milk, this soft cheese is left to ferment outside, eagerly assisted by the cheese-fly. The flies lay their eggs on the cheese and when these hatch, the translucent maggots are allowed to burrow in the cheese. In time, the cheese is made soft enough to consume, but even after this, the maggots are supposed to be downed with the cheese to avoid extra toxicity. What better than taking in numerous maggots capable of chewing though your intestine and stomach linings? You will be pleased to hear that it is actually acceptable to wipe off the larvae from the cheese, though for some reason, it is not preferred.
Fugu : Japan
Fugu, otherwise called the puffer fish, is a Japanese delicacy whose liver and other organs contain lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin, courtesy of which, it has long remained on the list of the deadliest dishes. After all, if not prepared properly, these toxins, which have no known antidote, can paralyze and asphyxiate a human being. Its death rate is relatively low though. Fortunately, chefs need a license to cook Fugu because of the complexity of the process of removing the poisons. Any chef worth his name will leave just enough toxins for a tingling feeling to pass through the tongues of the diners. All in all, with the threat of death thrown in, fugu is a tempting proposal for the reckless diner. But you might want to write that will down beforehand, just in case.
Silverstripe Blaasop : Mediterranean
The Silverstripe Blaasop is famous for two reasons: one, for being a delicacy in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and two, for being the reason of the deaths of the people over there. This black-spotted fish is well known for being extremely toxic and causing circulation problems and paralysis, unless the skin, liver and few other organs aren’t removed properly – a procedure best left for the professionals to perform. Fairly safe to consume after that, it still has a permanent spot on the list of deadly dishes, just like the fugu fish. Even so, if you still are ready to put your life on the line (though there are only limited deaths caused by this fish), do scour the villages in the Mediterranean since it is banned everywhere else in the Western world.
Apricots Seeds : Worldwide
I guess no one saw that coming. After all, you may be thinking, ‘How is that possible, apricots are healthy fruits!’ Well, this healthy fruit, among many others like cherries, plums, peaches and apples, encloses toxic seeds that contain cyanogentic glycosides. These release hydrogen cyanide gas upon ingestion. Though only overdosing on the seeds can cause a harmful reaction, a number of deaths due to this fruit have been reported in Turkey, which is known for its large number of apricot trees. Roasting the seeds before eating them is one way to prevent any reaction, but there has never been a better reason for children to avoid eating their share of ‘healthy fruits’ (even though it’s only the seeds that are harmful!)
Giant Bullfrog : Namibia
While some believe that the Giant Bullfrog is best left alone in its river home, the population of Namibia, to which it is native, consider it a delicacy. This toxic amphibian is eaten as a whole excluding its organs, but while doing so, the ‘timing’ is very important. It is advised to be consumed only after the ‘third rain of the spring’, when the bullfrog can croak and is ready to mate. If you fail to follow these guidelines, the consequences include kidney failure and a burning or inflamed urethra. Debatable measures to avoid poisoning are to cut the frog’s toes off before cooking it and to line the cooking pot with wood that has a neutralizing effect. But these seem to be pretty outside the boundaries of scientific fact. If you really want to taste the Giant Bullfrog then do wait until the perfect time to do so.
Cassava : Africa, the Caribbean, South America
Cassava is a delicacy that has long maintained its place in the diets of the people of Africa, the Caribbean and South America. This root vegetable is rich not only in starch, but also in the poisonous compound, cyanide. If not cleaned or prepared properly, this root, also known as yucca, can change into cyanide once digested by the body. It belongs to a family of highly poisonous plants and is known to be the most virulent of them all, and the most commonly consumed, too. Over 500 people use it as an ingredient in bread, soups and juices and many deaths caused by cassava have been reported all over Africa. Even sweet cassava, which contains less than half of the normal cyanide content, has enough toxins to kill a cow.
Elderberries : Europe
Another delicacy that can kill due to its share of cyanide! By now, we all would be wondering why cyanide could not have been an extremely tasty and completely edible substance instead of a life-taking compound. The very flavoursome elderberry is another thing that, courtesy to cyanide, can kill. Found in sub-tropical and temperate areas, elderberries are small, dark red or maroon berries with a luscious appearance. But the cyanide in their roots, stems and seeds can have a toxic effect on the body and can be the cause of severe illness and nausea. Although, when are they are ripe, they are very much safe to eat, like the Ackee fruit. In fact, they have medicinal properties when ripe. Cooking the berries can balance the toxicity and also enhance its flavour.
Lutefisk : Norway
A Nordic specialty, it is enjoyed by many in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Lutefisk, literally ‘lye fish’, is, as suggested by its name, fish soaked in lye (caustic soda). Usually prepared using dried and salted white fish like cod or ling, the fish is soaked in a mixture of lye and a little water till it swells up and acquires a jelly-like consistency. After this, it has a basic pH value of 12 which makes it extremely toxic and inedible. But a few more days of treatment and soaking in more water makes it edible once again – that is, if the treatment is held properly and if you are ready to eat fish cooked a few days ago. Sounds good? Maybe that is why many still serve it to guests every Christmas.
Red octopus tentacle was originally posted to Flickr by ~dgles. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). No changes have been made.
Casu Marzu cheese was originally posted to Wikimedia Commons by Shardan. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5). No changes have been made.
Fugu 2 was originally posted to Flickr by calltheambulance. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). No changes have been made.
Lagocephalus sceleratus was originally posted to Wikimedia Commons by Martin. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0). No changes have been made.
Giant African Bullfrog was originally posted to Flickr by Paul Huber. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). No changes have been made.
Lutefisk was originally posted to Wikimedia Commons by Enno. As stated on Wikimedia Commons, this work has been released into the public domain by its author, Enno at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide. Enno grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.