Five Ugly Foods You Should Eat

Slideshow  •  Jenna Schnuer  •  11.08.10 | 1:04 PM ET Photo 1 of 6

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Squid luau: "Women like it," said the guy at Haili's Hawaiian Foods in Honolulu. "I think it's the coconut milk." Tepid recommendation, mildly annoying generalization and muck-caught-in-a-gutter looks aside, it's foolish to ignore the dish, which also features squid, butter, onions, and taro leaves. Yogurt thick, the color is the only thing that challenges: It's all comfort with the earthiness of the taro leaves getting a sweet lift from the coconut milk. (arnold | inuyaki, via Flickr, Creative Commons)

Jenna Schnuer

Freelancer Jenna Schnuer writes about travel, food, culture, books, and life's quirky bits (and bites) for publications including American Way, National Geographic Traveler, Southern Living, and many others. She also co-writes Flyover America, a site filled with quieter stories from around the U.S. Send Jenna an email or, if you're so inclined, follow her on Twitter.

17 Comments for Five Ugly Foods You Should Eat

Alexandre Strube 11.08.10 | 3:47 PM ET

This is for americans that don’t travel much, right? All these foods seem absolutely ok, even the visual. Fur ugly things, perhaps “meninico de carneiro” and “sarapatel” from the african communities in brazil may be scarier. Even the typical “feijoada” of them, a mostly-black dish my scare some.

However the only thing I could not even try because of the aspect was “cuí”, in Peru. This is what usually comes to your table, when they manage to burn the fur:

Meryl 11.08.10 | 3:53 PM ET

All of this reminds me of the first time I ate a 1,000-year-old egg.  They’re translucent grey and the yolk is jet black.  They’re rather like Goth hardboiled eggs, and surprisingly tasty, too.

Jenna Schnuer 11.08.10 | 4:01 PM ET

Alexandre—I guess one person’s ugly is another’s ok. It wasn’t targeted at any specific level of traveler. As for feijoada, that’s a fine addition to the list. Yum. And though I didn’t get to eat cuy when I was in Peru, I have many friends who love it. I think I was still digesting the fried vein of cow udder I ate several years ago in Sonora, Mexico. Oh, and the alpaca meatballs I ate in Puno.

Meryl—Ah, yes: those eggs. I’ve never had one but you just returned it to the top of my list of ugly things I must eat. Thanks

Rachel Dickinson 11.08.10 | 8:36 PM ET

Eating more than one boudin ball at a sitting could probably put you in the hospital—I think it’s something your body can build up a tolerance for, though, given the right blood thinning medication.

Fun piece!

Jenna Schnuer 11.09.10 | 12:44 AM ET

Thanks, Rachel! As for the boudin ball per sitting issue, I think you can either build a tolerance or…you can leap right in and overload. Then you force your body to either face its fears and go forth or it takes you out of the game.

Chelsea Bridge 11.09.10 | 1:29 AM ET

No no no no no. No one should ever eat gefilte fish. That stuff is truly awful. Maybe I was just forced to eat it too often as a child. And I have NEVER in my life actually met any one who likes it..

Sean O'Neill 11.09.10 | 7:41 AM ET

Wonderful piece!

Jenna Schnuer 11.09.10 | 10:30 AM ET

Oh, Chelsea—I’m so sorry that childhood pushed you away from gefilte fish. I also grew up eating it—while, always, making fun of its pale lumpy looks—but have always loved it. And, after the slideshow was published, I had many a gefilte fish fan come forth and say “yes yes yes” to it. Perhaps, one day, it will win you back over. Or not. But any which way, thanks for joining in the conversation. It’s been fun to hear what different people thing about the foods.


Natalia 11.09.10 | 4:12 PM ET

I have previously eaten two items on this list. Reading through them all, I have to say there are some advantages to now being a vegan ... :)

Ben Keene 11.14.10 | 8:57 PM ET

Whether or not you order a Scotch egg, the Fredericksburg Brewing Company is absolutely worth visiting on a road trip through Hill Country.

Sandhya 11.14.10 | 9:20 PM ET

Love this piece! As a lifelong consumer of saag paneer, my first thought upon seeing that first image of Squid luau was saag paneer and was intrigued to see another dish out there that looks almost like it.

Jenna Schnuer 11.14.10 | 9:28 PM ET

Natalia—Ha! Perhaps we should do an all-veg edition next.

Ben—Agreed. Big time. I love that place. The baseball hat I took home from it is still one of my favorites.

Sandhya—Thanks! When you finally get around to trying squid luau, would love to hear what you think of it. (Fingers crossed that you enjoy it.)

Kar 11.23.10 | 2:11 PM ET

That looks more like palak paneer

Simone Cannon de Bastardo 11.23.10 | 8:48 PM ET

These dishes don’t look that ugly to me either…maybe I’ve been eating street food for too long! Now jellyfish…there’s an unattractive dish…

EFT for Cancer 11.25.10 | 8:51 PM ET

The squid luau sounded interesting and delicious in the menu. Well, sampling and eating delicacy food and dishes is always part of travelling. Go for it!

Deborah-Eve 11.26.10 | 3:58 PM ET

Hilarious and I agree that ugly is in the eye of the beholder!  Some ugly dishes do taste ugly.  My top pick for that category would be rice pudding and I know a lot of people won’t agree with that.  Thanks for sharing a fun idea and reminding me that I love Scotch eggs and haven’t had one for years!

LucyM 12.05.10 | 1:30 PM ET

Saag paneer comes out looking just the same as it goes in….

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