One of the best parts of traveling is getting to try new cuisines you'd never get authentic access to back home. Food is basically the universal language — everyone loves to eat and a delicious meal is often enough to melt down even the stiffest differences between various cultures.
Of course, different cultures have different ideas of what a delicious meal looks like, smells like and consists of. That's the exciting part of trying something totally new, but sometimes certain foods are a little too out there even for the most adventurous.
Here are 13 dishes from around the world only the bravest dare to conquer:
1. Chicken feet
Chicken feet are pretty common in different areas of the world, including East Asia, the Caribbean, South America, South Africa and even in certain restaurants of those persuasions in the U.S. The taste is apparently very much like other parts of the chicken, but the look and texture throw many people off.
An infamous Scottish dish, haggis is a sheep's heart, liver and lungs minced and mixed with onions, oatmeal and suet, then seasoned with salt and spices cooked inside the animal's stomach. So, organs. Lots of organs.
Khash is found in the Middle East, East Europe and Turkey, consisting of stewed cows feet and heads. If you can get past the cow skulls staring straight at you as you drink the broth they're swimming in, you're golden.
Popular in Iceland, hákarl is essentially the rotting carcass of a shark. Anthony Bourdain called it "the single worst thing I've ever put in my mouth."
Looks relatively tame, but this Baltic Sea herring popular in Sweden is fermented with just enough salt used to prevent it from rotting, giving it such a strong smell that it's nearly always eaten outside.
This Japanese dish is made up of various marine animal meats in a brown viscous paste of the animals' heavily salted, fermented viscera. Appetizing.
Fried grasshoppers are a popular snack in Thailand. They're crunchy at first and immediately after, the liquid within squirts into your mouth.
Beondegi are silkworms boiled or steamed and lightly seasoned, sold from street vendors all over Korea. Apparently they taste like wood, whatever that means.
Made famous by The Simpsons, Fugu, aka the pufferfish, can be deadly if not prepared correctly. Sure, it probably tastes fine, but is it worth the risk?
10. Rocky Mountain Oysters
Sounds appetizing and looks appetizing, but this American dish isn't what it sounds like — it's actually deep fried bull testicles. Still in?
Served in the Philippines, balut is a developing duck embryo that's boiled alive in its shell. In addition to sounding incredibly harsh, it doesn't look too appetizing.
Shirako is a Japanese dish that's basically just a cod's sperm sac. It's apparently very soft and creamy in taste.
13. Cobra heart
A brutal practice in Vietnam is to slit a living cobra's heart and bring it out for interested parties to eat totally raw. Yes, you read that correctly.
Cover image: Joe Goldberg via Flickr