You've probably heard the term "comfort food" -- warm homestyle meals made of familiar dishes that remind you of home and childhood and immediately put you in a good mood. Macaroni and cheese, maybe tomato soup and grilled cheese -- that sort of thing.
These are the extreme motherfucking opposite of that.
#9. The Octopus That Squirms While You Eat It
Have you ever read one of H.P. Lovecraft's chilling tales of unfathomable horror and thought "sounds delicious"? Then you'd probably enjoy the Japanese and Korean delicacy known as odori don. It's literally a live squid or octopus dumped on your plate and served to you, its legs still thrashing around in the sauce.
Here, Ock tries to recreate a scene from Flashdance.
Well, it's not alive in the strictest sense, because they remove the thing's brain before they slap it onto the plate. They're not monsters. But by the time it hits your table, it was alive so recently that it still flaps its tentacles around and tries to escape when you pour soy sauce over it. What's happening here, besides your own nightmares being harvested and served to you on a platter, is that the octopus' nerves and muscles are still active and spring to life when they come into contact with salt, like the salt in soy sauce.
Evidently, those who partake of this and other types of sannakji say that it's the sensation of the tentacles writhing about inside your mouth that creates the appeal, rather than the fairly bland taste. Because you really know that your seafood is fresh when it's trying to fight its way out of your mouth.
Here, Ock tries to get fresh with this man.
Of course, if you care to try it, you should probably be aware that sannakji carries a not insignificant risk of death. Being that an octopus' tentacles are covered in powerful suction cups, this thing can and will grab onto the inside of your throat and lodge itself there, choking you. The danger posed by the still-squirming cephalopods means that it's banned in some countries, like Australia. Even they have a line.
#8. The Severed Human Toe Cocktail
The sourtoe cocktail is a versatile drink, in that the liquid part can be whatever you like. Whatever helps you cope with what you're about to do, really. Honestly, we're thinking it doesn't matter a whole lot, because even if your wondrous elixir is so perfectly potent and gloriously flavored that it'd knock Dionysus himself flat on his probably-already-drunk ass, what you've made is not a sourtoe cocktail until you drop a disembodied human toe in it.
And not the pinky toe. It's gotta be Big Bob.
The Canadian bar that serves the toes doesn't want anyone getting anything more than psychologically ill from their delightful beverage, so the digits are first drained of all bodily fluids and pickled. Yes, this means you won't die unless you choke on it, but it also changes its appearance from "severed human toe" to "gangrenous severed human toe."
"But ... why?!" we hear you say. Basically, in 1973, Captain Dick Stevenson found some guy's frostbitten toe floating in a jar of moonshine in some cabin somewhere. After concluding that it probably belonged to a Yukon moonshine runner and dated back to the 1920s, he said to himself, "That needs to be in a drink," and the sourtoe cocktail was born. The best part? There's a rule if you drink it: "You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but the lips have gotta touch the toe." No swallowing, though, because severed toes are hard to find.
Luckily, it's northwest Canada, so "frostbitten" is a whole advertising demographic.
#7. Shrimp That Twitch on Your Plate
So maybe you thought the "live" octopus earlier was a cop-out -- it didn't have its brain, after all, so it was just nerves firing in response to the liquid. No, you want your seafood alive, damn it, and wriggling on the plate. But you don't want it to suffer. Good news! In Japan and China, they have a solution: They make shrimp more pliable to the idea of being eaten alive by getting them shitfaced drunk first.
Trying the same thing on your date is immoral and illegal.
"Drunken shrimp" is a dish that slaps subtlety right in the face and provides exactly what it promises. The live shrimp twitching listlessly on your plate have been soaked in either sake or a Chinese spirit called baijiu, which is upwards of 100 proof and tastes a little worse than rocket fuel. This results in shrimp that are drunker than a German frat party. The alcohol is probably well appreciated, because eating the shrimp requires stripping off its shell and biting off its still twitching body, which is not something you want to happen to you when you're stone sober.
Apparently, in addition to making the shrimp pleasantly amenable to death, the liquor makes them super thirsty, so they eagerly suck up whatever marinade your chef chooses to soak them in. Plus you imbibe a few shots of powerful booze right along with your meal, transferring the shrimp's intoxication to yourself in the most terrifyingly roundabout way possible.
An ogre eats you next, and the circle of booze continues.
#6. Fruit Bat Soup
This is really just a colossal middle finger to the concept of food preparation. The entire process for preparing fruit bat soup, as it's enjoyed in Guam, is as follows: rinse off the bat, boil it, chop some vegetables (sometimes), douse everything in coconut milk, serve. Notice how "shave the bat" is conspicuously absent from that list. Fur is eaten along with eyes, wings, and just about everything else that's not bone.
It's not a bad idea because it offends our delicate sensibilities; it's a bad idea because eating this is a marvelous way to punch holes in your brain. When they're alive, these bats eat plants that are known to cause neurological diseases in humans, so when you take a bat with a belly full of poison seeds and toss it right into your stew, it doesn't take a doctor to figure out what's going to happen next.
Parkinson's isn't even the worst part; it's actually only a third of the neurological disorder you're likely to get from this. The other two-thirds are Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's, resulting in a cocktail of cerebral malfunctions known scientifically as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-Parkinson's dementia complex, or ALS-PDC for short. We're reasonably certain that a diagnosis that involves lumping together all of the words nobody ever wants to hear applied to their brain into one long, six-word string of awful for which nobody can even come up with a clever acronym means it's probably something bad.
University of Hawaii
Still, the soup may reverse vampirism, so that's something.
#5. A Sea Urchin's Pulsating Gonads
Yep, it's another dish that will squirm its way right down your goddamned throat. And we can't promise this is the last one.
The sea urchin, or uni, is mostly about as inedible as it looks. It's already probably the least appetizing thing that you can imagine, being that it's not much more than a tennis-ball-size tangle of thorns.
The softer parts aren't particularly inviting either.
But it's full of fleshy and reportedly delicious chunks that are, for all intents and purposes, its gonads. And if you're in the mood for some sweet, tasty urchin nuts, then you don't have to wait for the thing to die; you can just crack its shell open in a vice and tuck in as it squirms.
The human scrotum wiggles just like this, in case you were curious.
Restaurants are eager to insist that the urchins don't have brains or nervous systems, so they don't feel a thing while you're gorging yourself on their most intimate parts. That's got to be the bare minimum in terms of a selling point when you're inviting people to scoop the nut sack right out of a slimy, moving bowl of spikes and chew on it.