Top 15 Debatable Foods Spanning Global Cuisine

Food connects people across borders, yet what one culture considers a delicacy might be met with raised eyebrows or outright rejection in another. In this article, we explore 15 of the most controversial foods worldwide, from cultural delicacies to strange and unusual dishes.


Fugu, or pufferfish, is a Japanese delicacy banned in several countries due to the risk of poisoning. The fish contains tetrodotoxin, a highly toxic substance that can be lethal. Despite this danger, the dish remains popular in Japan, where specially trained chefs are licensed to prepare it.


Balut is a fertilized duck egg that is boiled and eaten as a popular street food in the Philippines. The dish is controversial because it contains a partially formed duck embryo, which can be off-putting for some. Many people enjoy its unique taste and consider it a delicacy.

Casu Marzu

Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian cheese that contains live insect larvae. The larvae, known as “maggots,” help break down the cheese and give it a unique texture. This controversial dish is banned in several countries due to health concerns but remains popular among adventurous food lovers.


Hákarl is also known as ‘fermented shark’. It is an Icelandic delicacy that involves burying a Greenland shark for several months to decompose before being cut into strips and hung to dry. The dish has a strong ammonia smell, often described as an acquired taste.

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Foie Gras

Due to animal welfare concerns, Foie gras, or fattened duck or goose liver, is a controversial delicacy illegal in several countries. The process involves force-feeding the birds to produce an enlarged liver, leading to ethical debates about its production.


Surströmming is a fermented herring dish popular in Sweden. The fish is canned and left to ferment for several months before being opened, releasing a pungent smell that often causes controversy among non-Swedes. Despite this, the dish remains beloved by many Swedes.


Durian is known as the “king of fruits” in Southeast Asia, but its strong smell and potent taste make it a controversial food for many. Some people describe the odor as similar to rotting onions or sewage, while others love its unique flavor and creamy texture.

Kopi Luwak

Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is made from coffee beans that have been eaten and passed through the digestive system of a civet cat. It is a luxury coffee that has sparked controversy due to animal welfare concerns and claims of unethical production methods.


Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, mixed with onion, oatmeal, and spices, and encased in the animal’s stomach. The dish has faced controversy over its ingredients and preparation methods but remains a beloved part of Scottish cuisine.

Fried Tarantulas

Fried tarantulas are popular in Cambodia. The spiders are seasoned and deep-fried, resulting in a crunchy texture on the outside and a soft center. Despite their popularity among locals, this dish often sparks controversy among tourists.

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Whale Meat

Despite its controversial nature, whale meat is still considered a delicacy in some countries, including Japan, Norway, and Iceland. Whale hunting is heavily regulated, but some argue it is unethical and should be banned altogether.

Snake Wine

Snake wine is a traditional drink from venomous snakes and rice wine in Southeast Asia. The belief is that the alcohol neutralizes the snake’s venom, making it safe to consume. However, animal rights activists have called for a ban on the production of snake wine due to concerns about animal cruelty.

Virgin Boy Eggs

Virgin boy eggs are a traditional dish in China, where young boys’ urine is collected and used to boil eggs. The dish is believed to be medicinal and is popular during the Qingming Festival. However, it has faced controversy over health concerns and ethical considerations.


Sannakji is a Korean dish with live octopuses cut up and served immediately, often squirming on the plate. The dish is controversial due to animal welfare concerns and potential choking hazards if not chewed properly.

Century Eggs

Century eggs, also known as thousand-year-old eggs, are a traditional Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to months. The dish is often controversial due to its strong odor and unappealing appearance.

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