With Europe being the oldest most diverse country, European cuisine was bound to develop some weird dishes at some point in time. Though some are just exotic or novelty dishes that don’t seem as weird once you’ve had them a couple of times, others should definitely be in a hall of fame somewhere (if not a house of horrors).
The most famously weird European dish has to be Iceland’s traditional shark. Its meat is supposed to be poisonous until it’s been fermented underground for months and hung to dry. And though fermented fish is decidedly weird, it’s got nothing compared to these other recipes.
Half-Pet, Half-Dinner Carp
There’s nothing unusual about carp per se, but the way the Czechs eat it is definitely weird. Around Christmas, there’s fresh carp being sold on every corner. And when they say fresh, they mean it. The carp is kept live in plastic barrels. When Czechs buy one, they keep it in the bathtub for days until it’s killed and eaten. This is probably the freshest fish you could find in the landlocked country.
This traditional Romanian dish includes boiled pig brains. The typical recipe calls for the brain to be coated in eggs, flour and breadcrumbs. Then it’s usually deep fried and served with veggies, rice or French fries. While one might not usually associate fine dining with pig brains, this dish is worth it. It’s so delicious and tasty that you won’t have a chance to stop and think about the fact that you’re eating brains.
Be warned: the smell alone can completely turn you off tasting this treat. It comes right form This fermented herring comes right from Scandinavia and is, well, rotten fish. Its fermentation process continues after it’s been canned so it’s not unusual to see the can swell up. Airlines have even banned it due to explosion risks.
Really the smell is so overwhelmingly strong, some manufacturers advise that it should only be opened under water. And until a few years ago, it was illegal to eat it year-round, since even if only one household was having it, the entire neighborhood would smell of Surstromming. Those this doesn’t exactly have glowing reviews, the fact that it’s still wildly enjoyed despite its infamous smell speaks highly of it.
Sardinian Rotten Cheese
This “maggot” cheese has been banned in the European Union, but Sardinians still enjoy it. This is a super fermented pecorino cheese full of larvae. As in there should be live maggots on it when you bite into it. Despite what that might sound like, it’s supposed to taste soft and heavenly. Which is why Sardinians refuse to give it up in spite of regulations.
A little pro-tip that might completely scare you off of tasting this. Bring glasses, or more specifically, goggles. The maggots on this cheese tend to jump around quite a lot. You don’t want one of them finding its way to your eyeballs while biting down.