The Weirdest Ways We Use Animals in Food

The Weirdest Ways We Use Animals in Food

To many people, meat, fish, dairy, eggs, shellfish and crustaceans are some of the only animal products that are suitable for consumption, though there are few who disagree when it comes to the latter two. But in certain parts of the world there are some strange foods with questionable ingredients which may just leave you scratching your head – or gagging. But to the locals, they’re delicacies and are very much a part of the country’s culinary traditions. If you’re curious about these unusual foods, take a look at these crazy ones that use animals in unconventional ways.

1. Cow Eye in Tacos/Tacos De Ojos

For all the taco lovers out there, there’s a variation in Mexico known locally as “tacos de ojos” you might want to try. Consuming animal eyes is pretty common in many parts of the world, and tacos de ojos is one of the better-known dishes. If you can’t fly out to Mexico to get your hands on some, then simply throw together some corn tortillas, lime, red chili sauce, pico de gallo, avocado and of course, cubed cow eyes which are said to have a juicy and gelatinous texture. 

2. Snail Eggs in Caviar/Caviar d’escargot

It sounds really off-putting, but snail caviar or caviar d’escargot is a big deal in France where it’s steadily rising in popularity. So much so that folks are willing to pay up to £1,500 for just a kilogram! The dish consists of the pearly white eggs of land snails; it is commonly served on its own, with warm toast or in soups. Enthusiasts of this cuisine swear by its deliciousness, which is said to be reminiscent of baked mushroom or baked asparagus with a subtle hint of woody notes.

3. Maggots in Cheese/Casu Martzu

In certain parts of Italy, there’s a very disturbing type of cheese called “casu martzu” that literally means “rotten cheese.” As the name suggests, it’s basically fermented, rotten cheese where maggots are used to create a liquid-filled cheese. Apparently, the maggots get eaten too, right along with the rest of the soft, stinky cheese. It’s only legal on the island of Sardinia though, as the rest of Italy has made the dish illegal due to the numerous health and safety concerns it presents.

4. Fire Ants in Chutney/Chaprah

Chaprah is a type of chutney which is a type of Indian spread. But don’t let your guard down, because this one is made by grinding dried red ants and their eggs into a paste. As you may have suspected, it’s pretty hot, maybe more so than chilis and other fire peppers. The locals love it though and will mix the paste with various herbs, spices, sugar, vegetables and aromatics before serving it. They also believe it provides some medicinal benefits, despite there not being much evidence of it. 

5. Fried Arachnids

Most people are downright scared of arachnids, but there are those who catch them for food, you know, kind of like fishing. By far, tarantulas and scorpions are the arachnid specialties on most menus, most likely due to their bigger sizes. They are typically served seasoned and fried; most say that tarantula legs are comparable to more conventional meats like chicken. Fried arachnids are usually only consumed in economically unstable countries, although there are some brave westerners who have eaten it as part of a challenge.

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