The masochist's meal is any food that is so unpleasant, painful, disgusting, or even outright dangerous to eat that the only reason any sane man would eat it is to be able to say that he did. Real-Life examples abound, to the point that fictional analogues tend to be really over-the-top.
The food equivalent of a Gargle Blaster, often prepared by a Cordon Bleugh Chef or a Lethal Chef. Can overlap with Foreign Queasine and Eat That. See also Fire-Breathing Diner, Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce, and I Ate WHAT?!
The hot foods we're most familiar with are mostly from three groups — the Brassicas (cabbage, turnips, radishes and relatives), the Capsicums (chile peppers, related to tomatoes, potatoes, and nightshade in the Solanaceae family), and the Piperaceae (black pepper and a couple of exotic relatives like long pepper and cubeb). (There's also spices like cinnamon and ginger, but except for things like cinnamon candy, they're better known for their overall flavor than just the heat.)
- Many types of hot peppers, particularly the species Capsicum chinense and hybrids thereof. The most notable of these are the Habanero and the Scotch Bonnet; the average C. chinense is a tiny round thing with a festive orange color that looks quite harmless, but causes really severe pain to the unprepared (like this guy). You need to build up a serious capsaicin tolerance before you can appreciate the delicious smoky/citrusy taste (hence why habanero and lemon, lime, or orange are such classic cooking combinations, as well as habanero with seasonings and other ingredients that go well with citrus like rosemary, ginger, and mango).note
- There's one type of hot pepper called the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Chili) that can make you go temporarily deaf by sheer heat. It was ranked by Guinness Books as the hottest pepper in the world at 850,000 - 1,050,000 Scoville Heat Units. The only things known to be hotter are pure capsaicin, some of its derivatives and military/police grade pepper spray (which isn't actually that much hotter, just a few times). It is used for many things, including treating stomach ills, and the juice, when smeared on fences or added to smoke bombs, is potent enough to drive elephants away. (And it's been outdone by a variant of a variety called the Trinidad Scorpion, since outdone in turn by the Carolina Reaper and then the Dragon's Breath.) That said, increasing heat tolerance means jalapenos and tabascos and even habaneros are now making way for these heat bombs. Buffalo Wild Wings now uses ghost peppers as the base for its hottest sauces.
- Note that if you seriously intend to eat one of these peppers you should check to make sure you don't have gastric or esophageal ulcers, GERD, Barrett's esophagus, family or personal history of esophageal or gastric cancer, or other internal cuts, the amount of raw, concentrated capsaicin can actually kill you if it hits your bloodstream without being diluted. Check out this video of a pepper aficionado deciding to eat 100 Carolina Reapers in one sitting. It sent him to the emergency room because he was vomiting blood.
- Also worth noting is that the Bhut Jolokia and onwards cannot be handled with your bare hands. Unlike other types of chili peppers, the capsaicin permeates the entire fruit and not just the parts around the seeds. In India, where the Bhut Jolokia was bred, the peppers are rubbed onto fences and trees to permeate the air with capsaicin and repel elephants. The capsaicin will hook onto your skin if you touch it and will corrode your skin if you don't dissolve it away. People typically handle them with latex gloves, and even then, they will burn through the gloves after about 30 minutes of contact.
- Oh, and check for any history of blood flow problems in your brain. That much capsaicin ingested in once can cause a condition called reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS); essentially the blood vessels in the brain temporarily constrict, causing symptoms like "thunderclap" headaches. This happened to a guy after eating a Carolina Reaper.
- Two further cultivars of Capsicum, the Dragon's Breath pepper and "Pepper X" have been ranked at 2.48 million and 3.18 million Scoville units, and according to legend, both of them contain potentially lethal amounts of capsaicin. However, the Dragon's Breath pepper has another purpose besides culinary: scientists believe its essential oil can be used to make more effective anesthetics.note
- If you don't just want to take a bite of a super-hot pepper but want to try a super-hot full meal, then British-Asian cuisine is the place to be. Specifically the phall. It's basically just bits of chicken/ lamb/ beef/ whatever drowned in Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce with some lost tomatoes. Have a glass of milk handy or a lassi. Even beer won't do any good, and water might even make things worse.
- Capsaicin is soluble in fat and alcohol, but not water. Sadly, most beer is less than 10% alcohol so won't take away that much of the spice compared to, say, swishing a shot of the hard stuff in your mouth or even using mouthwash. Mind you, most curries wow you with the chili, to then mug you with the ginger, mustard and black pepper when you've got complacent. So... yeah: milk covers all bases.
- First hand experience: you're better off with the full-fat dairy than the beer — more fat. And, with a phall, you need that fat. You could get away with a beer and a vindaloo or downwards in the curry-heat stakes, though (depending on your taste buds' abilities at survival). Yup: mitigating the pain is as much of an art-form as creating it in the first place. Sweet can also help, if mixed in with the fat, as it gives the mouth a different flavour to latch onto in its desperation. You're a bit screwed, however, if you're going for one of the hot ones that already contains cream, yoghurt and almonds along with the ghee, though, as the chili is already quite at home with the fat. British-Asian cuisine: pick your pain and your medicine wisely.
- One restaurant in New York City serves phall so hot, the chef wears a gas mask to cook it, and before you eat it, you must sign a waiver freeing the restaurant from legal blame if you die. These acts are not part of some presentation to hype it up. That phall really is that dangerous.
- The above is a naga phall, and most British high streets have least one takeaway that has it either on the menu or by request. It's a phall made with naga chillies (bhut jolokia by another name) in some capacity, usually either fresh, smoked or pickled, rather than "just" scotch bonnets or habaneros. And, yes: masks and careful overalls and gloves are needed unless the chef has a death wish. Anything with "naga" attached to the name means "ghost pepper added", whatever its strength; so, it can be a relitively tame naga dopiaza... or a not-very-tame one. There are even hotter curries than a naga phall available. "Rajastani", as it pertains to curry shops, is a term to step warily around, for one.
- A restaurant chain in the US now serves "triple atomic wings" for masochists to numb their mouths and clear their sinuses with.
- A few other wing chains have challenges where one must eat a pile of the spiciest wings in the house in a certain amount of time, with people able to do it photographed and put on a wall, maybe even given an "I survived" T-shirt.
- Wasabi. There are several very good reasons why it is recommended that one use only a dab of wasabi sauce on your sushi, and the ones that don't involve flailing around in pain like an idiot have to do with the subsequent volcanic trip to the bathroom.
- Horseradish as well. Wasabi is frequently cut with or imitated by green-dyed horseradish — though the wasabi plant is not in the same genus as true horseradish — and in Japan horseradish is known as "Western wasabi".
- It depends on what classification you use. Some botanists put them both into genus Cochlearia. Still they are both in the cabbage family, Brassicaceae, and are similar enough in biology and taste.
- On the other hand, wasabi is also a very clean spice. Unlike the things listed above, it doesn't really linger or taste 'hot', as the compounds that give wasabi and horseradish their hotness are water-soluble and do not cling to your mouth as capsaicin does.
- A good analogy is that the spice of wasabi is like a flammable gas: a quick explosion of heat, but fades quickly. Peppers are like burning wood or other flammable materials like that: a slower, steadier burn. The stronger peppers could be compared to thermite: Very strong, and there's almost no chance of stopping it once it's started (like how it's hard to cool a mouth that's suffered something blisteringly spicy.)
- A nasty trait of wasabi that most other spicy foods don't have is that when you swallow it, some of the spicy molecules may float up into your sinuses and cause you to feel like your nose is burning deep within. Luckily this only lasts for a few seconds, but it is really painful while it lasts.
- Horseradish as well. Wasabi is frequently cut with or imitated by green-dyed horseradish — though the wasabi plant is not in the same genus as true horseradish — and in Japan horseradish is known as "Western wasabi".
- Chimpanzees will sometimes deliberately seek out and eat fire ants, which bite. Gustatory masochism must be a common trait of the tribe Hominini.
- Birds are immune to the effect of capsaicin, they can therefore eat all forms of hot peppers without ill effect. This is the point of capsaicin since peppers spread their seeds far and wide through the droppings of birds that eat them and would be digested too much if a mammal ate their fruit instead. Hence some varieties of bird suet have capsaicin mixed in and some stores sell seeds coated in it to deter squirrels from raiding bird feeders.
- Russian mustard, or rather anything with black mustard seeds. It's more or less the Jalapeno of mustards.
- Same goes for Estonian mustard, especially Põltsamaa brand. Swedish mustard is very mild, and many unsuspecting Swedes have tasted Põltsamaa with obvious results.
- Raw garlic. A powerful taste that can painfully burn your mouth for several seconds, possibly give you an upset stomach if you eat enough, and curse you with a stench that not only taints your breath but your actual body odor as well. That's not going to stop some people from chowing down on a few cloves a day. Justified, as studies have suggested that eating raw garlic has health benefits. On the "folk remedy" side of things, garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating at least as far back as when the Giza pyramids were built. Russians are also fond of this one, and of equally hot snacks made from raw garlic and cheese In some parts of China, a piece of it is eaten with dumplings.
- Garlic is also an natural Antibiotic, very useful for curing toothaches. This is done by soaking a towel in hot water mixed with chopped raw garlic and leaving the hellish mass of pain in your mouth next to the already painful toothache. It works.
- Another benefit of having a diet rich in garlic: A garlic-eater's body-odor acts as a natural mosquito repellant.
- To get the full benefit of Raw Garlic, you can't just chop it up and cook a bit of it in your meals, but have to chow down on whole, peeled and uncooked cloves. Multiple times a day. The reason is that Garlic only releases those chemicals as a biological deterrent to being crushed and cooking it causes the chemicals in it to react and change into something completely different. This is also why when you dice garlic, you usually have to crush it first.
- The San Francisco-based Japanese fusion restaurant On The Bridge has spice levels that are as follows: Mild, Medium, Spicy, X-Spicy, XX-Spicy, XXX-Spicy, and XXXX-Spicy. Casual customers have been known to reach their limit at XX or XXX level. However, there are also "secret" spicy levels that go beyond XXXX-Spicy, the catch being that the chef has to know you personally before he'll let you try them. There are reports of people having done as high as 20X-spicy.
- Salmiakki. This stuff is especially loved in Finland, and it is ammonium chloride mixed with liquorice. The taste is simultaneously sour, fiery and sweet, and ingesting ammonium chloride will accelerate salivation. It is enjoyed also elsewhere in Scandinavia, Netherlands and Northern Germany, but not so much elsewhere. Salmiakki Koskenkorva (salmiakki mixed with Koskenkorva Vodka) is the Finnish version of the Gargle Blaster.
- In Finnish colloquial, the word salmiakki refers also to ammonium chloride compound itself, not only to the candy made from it, because "salmiakki" is a Finnish take on the Late Latin term sal ammoniac, that is, "Salt of Amun", a somewhat rare mineral which is almost pure ammonium chloride.
- Chilli (The dish) in the west, and curry in the east may have broad appeal, but make no mistake, just because there's weaker stuff doesn't mean there aren't brutally spicy variants out there.
- Blair's (an artisan hot sauce manufacturer, known for being exceptionally spicy and serving as a benchmark for heat tolerance with burgeoning chiliheads) got its start when the founder worked as a bartender and would use his homemade sauces to clear out drunks who had worn out their welcome; if last call was imminent or someone was too drunk to continue serving but wouldn't leave, he would prepare something (usually wings) with one of his sauces and tell them that if they could finish them, they could stay as long as they wanted. None of them were successful.
- The Toe of Satan. It is a lollipop that is several times hotter than even the hottest peppers in the world, created by the Flamethrower Candy Company. The company challenges you to hold it in your mouth for five minutes without spitting. It measures at about 9 million Scoville units. Pure capsaicin is 16 million, while all the world's hottest peppers are less than 3 million.
- Angel from Angel Beats! is the only person that would eat the Legendarily-spicy Mapo Tofu not as a side dish, but as the ONLY dish, and enjoy it, when it would make other, grown men cry from the pain. She even eats half the dish in one go when she got into trouble for eating in the Lunch Hall during classes.
- A few other characters eat it during the show, and while they do find it incredibly hot, they also remark that it does really taste pretty good.
- TK even ate all the Mapo Tofu (and only Map Tofu, by the looks of it) in the cafeteria during the special. Instead of being absurdly round like the other two cast members, he looks and sounds completely dried out, and enters and exits the bathroom multiple times. "My stomach is destruction..."
- Mai-HiME had a moment where Mai made someone eat hot spicy curry, during a Beach Episode while being dug into the sand.
- In an omake strip for Nabari no Ou, Gau ate a piece of sushi with a huge blob of wasabi on it◊. The title says it all ("M" standing for "Masochism").
- The reason Kaolla Su is never allowed to take kitchen duty in Love Hina is because her spicy native cuisine is inedible to the rest of the cast.
- Although not hot per se (although one variety can melt solid metal), Bianci's "Poison Cooking" technique in Katekyō Hitman Reborn! can cause any food or later any object, to become dangerous to touch or lethal to injest, with the exception of the proir use of an "Iron Stomach" shot.
- Anthy's cuisine in Revolutionary Girl Utena includes curry so hot it blows you out of your body and into someones else's.
- This is pretty much the point of the entirety of Oni cuisine in Urusei Yatsura. Even food that Lum and her family would describe as "bland" has been known to make humans breathe fire and run for the milk.
- A very funny page from a Green Arrow Secret Files issue shows Ollie's famous chili recipe (which is not only an actual recipe, but apparently a very good one, if not really as hot as depicted). The JLA all have horrified reactions to it (including J'onn comparing it to fire and freaking out)... except Batman, who just thinks it needs more crackers: Link
- In Fab Five/Lian Harper: A Chili Reception, Roy Harper/Red Arrow is making his mentor's signiature chili (see Comic Books) with the help of little Lian. When the Titans are called away, Roy leaves his daughter in charge of stirring and watching the chili. To her horror, an explosion knocks over various spices and dumps a ton of salt into the chili; in a panic, she begins throwing in whatever she can grab. Once the chili is served, all of the Titans save Roy try the chili and at first have no reaction. Then Wally begins screaming about it burning, Donna shrieks that she's gone blind, Garth hits the floor and Dick starts choking. Roy is confused up until Lian wails about her mistake, whereupon he scolds his teammates for scaring her. After gently scolding his daughter, Roy decides to try the chili on the table, to Lian and the other Titans' horror...and promptly declares it fantastic and Lian a genius; Lian agrees with him after sampling some herself though both say they need to cut back on the salt, to the other Titans' utter confusion. The story is eventually revealed to have been narrated by Lian to Iris and Jai West, who are both unnerved by the story and freak out when Lian and Roy, who's babysitting the pair, imply the chili is being served for dinner.
- The fandom tends to take Misato Katsuragi's lack of cooking skill to Lethal Chef levels for fun, but Aeon Natum Engel and its rewrite Aeon Entelechy Evangelion make this actual characterization. Because of brain damage from an injury (the original) or exposure to Leng (the rewrite), Misato can barely smell or taste anything, and has to have her food at weapons-grade spice levels to be able to enjoy it.
- In Wasabi, the commissaire is discussing the case with his friend Momo in a Japanese restaurant. Before Momo can warn him, Fiorentini is snacking on the offered wasabi by the chunkful, as if it were guacamole, exclaiming after many mouthfuls on how delicious it is. At this point Momo, who knows perfectly well how powerful wasabi normally is and was terrified, seems mollified and tries a tiny bit out of curiosity... and promptly collapses in agony.
- W. Bruce Cameron's "Chili Judge" is about an inexperienced chili-taster who is selected as a judge in a Texas chili-cooking contest. While the notes from the other two judges talk about the nuanced flavors and proportions of ingredients, the newbie reacts like someone's coating his tongue with flaming LSD (using large quantities of beer to attempt to cool the heat isn't helping his mental state). Has made the rounds via email and the Internet with minor alterations (usually profanity or emphasizing the newbie being from a Northern state), including the altered punchline of one judge wondering how the new guy would cope with spicy chili.
- Hotroot soup, eaten by otters in the Redwall books. They tend to have contests to see who can load theirs up with the most hotroot without spontaneously combusting.
- In Discworld, Mustrum Ridcully's powered up version of the Wow-Wow sauce, whose ingredients include scumble, sulphur and saltpetre. And the Vanglemesht Red Python Chili.
- Ange from Little Brother carries around a spray canister of diluted capsicum.
- From the Animorphs series comes Cassie's dad's chili, generally considered to be just barely on this side of edible on a good day. Ax loves it, of course.
- ''Master of Formalities has chowklud (yes, it sounds like "chocolate", one of the tastiest things in the world) is a Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce that's served with every meal on the planet Cappozzi. To say that it has a strong flavor is to put it mildly. The Cappozzi pride themselves on enduring hardships, so they tend to pour Chowklud all over their food (which is deliberately made bland and tasteless to heighten the effect). It tastes and feels awful, but deals no permanent damage, and some people can grow accustomed to it.
- The Observers from Fringe have little sense of taste, so they always spice up their foods. The first episode to focus on them has one eat a roast beef sandwich topped with eleven jalapenos, an entire bottle of Tabasco sauce and a whole shaker's worth of pepper. Another has them eating whole Bhut Jolokia peppers in an Indian restaurant.
- MythBusters once tested various methods of curing the burn from chillis (using whole milk as a control). One of them was using wasabi. Grant (who was using jalapeños for the initial burn) was in even worse pain than with the chili peppers alone. Tory (who was using the hotter habaneros) actually got some relief from the wasabi. None of the cures they tried were as good as milk.
- Adam Richman's lunatic food challenges in Man v. Food very often revolve around insanely large quantities of insanely hot things.
- During the King of Iron Chefs tournament in Iron Chef, Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi, recognizing that this could be the final battle he does, decides to make his mapo doufu extra extra extra spicy, just the way he'd eat it. The fumes alone were so strong a cameraman had to pull away, coughing. Sumo yokozuna Akebono (who, it should be noted, is a Hawaiian) loved the extra spicy mapo doufu though. By the way, Chen did win that battle and went on to the final.
- FoxTrot has a number of strips involving Peter accepting dares to put a ridiculous amount of Tabasco sauce on his Mexican food (and suffering the consequences).
- They've actually done two variations on this. In one, Jason and Peter play a Name That Tune-esque game ("I can eat this taco with five squirts of hot sauce); in another, Peter does it to himself ("Who wants to see me eat this taco with eight squirts of hot sauce?!") as Paige and Jason look on, wryly remarking "Ah, the tears of a clown..."
- One strip has both Peter and Jason loading up on Tabasco after both have been to the dentist. One wonders about what will happen when the novocaine wears off.
- Jason also once played a prank on his father by dumping Tabasco sauce into his cup of coffee.
- In a Garfield strip◊, where Jon takes Liz to a restaurant:
Jon: Is your chili spicy?Waiter: Not really.Guest (offscreen): GAAAHH! MY THROAT! MILK! ICE WATER! ALOE VERA!!!Waiter: Unless you're a weenie...Jon: Bring it on!Liz: Jooooon...Guest (offscreen): I CAN'T SEE!
- In The Goon Show, Major Bloodnok is often introduced suffering the after-effects of one of these.
Bloodnok: I was finding out what happens when you mix hot Bombay Duck and curried gunpowder. Aeiough!
- The curry in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is so hot it causes characters to run around the stage spitting fire.
- It originally appeared in Kirby's Dream Land.
- There's a hot pepper item in Super Mario Galaxy 2 which, if Yoshi eats it, causes him to freak out and start running really fast. It allows you to do things like run over the surface of water and run up (and across) vertical surfaces.
- In Tales of Monkey Island W.P. Grindstump is the proud owner of a Fugu Jolokia Pepper. He won it by being able to place his tongue on the outer skin of the pepper for a full 10 seconds, and now offers a challenge for anyone who would place their tongue on the pepper for a full 11 seconds! No mean feat, as not only is the pepper spicy beyond all sanity, even on the outer skin (wheras most real-life peppers have their heat in the juice or seeds), but it is also hot temperature-wise to the tongue, to the point that Guybrush's skin nearly burns when he tries touching the pepper with his good hand; he needs to numb up his tongue if he wants to win the challenge.
- The Sega Genesis game Donald Duck's Quackshot allows to collect hot peppers. Eating enough of them causes him to turn red and throw a temper tantrum, becoming temporarily invincible.
- In the "Heaven's Feel" arc of Fate/stay night, Shirou meets Kotomine in a restaurant notorious for hellishly brutal mapo tofu Shirou wishes to avoid. Kotomine gulps it down like gazpacho and, to Shirou's disbelief, orders more. When Kotomine offers him some, Shirou abruptly and emphatically refuses.
- In Persona 4:
- One of the dishes the Chinese diner Aiya serves is a spicy rice bowl. Eating it will boost your Courage stat.
- By all accounts, Rise's food seems to be tolerable, if heavy on the spice. But Nanako said Rise's rice omelette was spicy but good, so it's possible rest of the cast are just weenies. She also manages to eat Chie's and Yukiko's omelettes as well, the two responsible for the "Mystery Food X" entry later on this page, so it's also possible she can eat anything.
- Starbound has the "Hot Hot Hotpot", a cookable dish that contains chili, meat, avesmingo (the fruit with a hundred flavors) and molten lava. Eating it boosts your speed and max health for a few minutes, as well as set fire to any enemy near you. You also catch fire yourself for five seconds. Eating the hotpot will literally hurt you, but the bonuses can often be worth it.
- In the excellent Firefly-esque webcomic Crimson Dark, the captain's chili has been described as volcanic. This also leads to one of the funniest moments in the comic.
- Discussed in Freefall here:
Florence: It must be so much fun being human. You guys can eat anything. Even the weird stuff like jalapeño peppers. I mean, really. What other species would eat something like that and sit there with nose burning and eyes watering, trying to figure out how to make it even hotter?
- In Rhapsodies Blossom isn't allowed to take her curry to potlucks anymore.
- Sydney of Grrl Power makes a point to offer mortal insult to a new chili restaurant her first time there, just to be sure she gets a sufficiently hot meal.
- She was also required to sign a legal waiver to order said meal, making absolutely sure that she knew that this wasn't going to be your everyday hot sauce. (Which leads to her being a Fire-Breathing Diner...do a bit of Stop, Drop, and Roll....only to thank them for making something so spicy and continue eating.)
- In The Simpsons episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer," Chief Wiggum challenges Homer to try his chili made with extra-hot peppers "grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum." Homer screams in pain with the first taste, but after coating his tongue with wax, he successfully eats four whole peppers to everyone's shock. Then he begins to hallucinate.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender Sokka cannot stand the heat of the Fire Nation delicacy fire flakes, although Mai has no problem snacking on them.
- In the Regular Show episode "Weekend at Benson's", Benson, Mordecai and Rigby get involved in a hot-sauce drinking contest, and their last course is a concoction their rival calls "Mississippi Queen", consisting of a whole bunch of hot sauces and shellfish mixed in a large sifter. All three drink it down and at first feel just fine. Then the hallucinations start.
- In the episode "Bachelor Party! Zingo!!", the group comes across a hidden hot wing restaurant called "Wings for Real Men" that offers the Inferno Challenge: Eat a whole bucket of their inferno wings in two minutes and you get free wings for life. The sauce is made of mutated ghost peppers, hot magma extract and black widow venom. Oh, and they throw the blue cheese container against a wall before you start.
Cheese and Other Dairy
- Casu Marzu, a Sardinian delicacy. The cheese gets its unique flavour and odour from the live maggots that inhabit it, but you have to be careful when eating it because said larvae are known to jump into the eyes of diners or live on in their intestines as parasites. Apparently, the best way to eat it is to put it into a paper bag or similar item to suffocate and kill the larvae inside, and then quickly consume it before the larva corpses become toxic.
- For a short time, Casu Marzu was banned in Sardinia due to the intestinal parasites. As more than one comic quipped, why would you ban something in the only place where people are crazy enough to eat it?
- At first glance, the French Mimolette and German Milbenkäse are seemingly regular cheeses, albeit with unusual, crumbly crusts. Then you learn that the entire surface of both cheeses are actually covered in countless tiny cheese mites, and that their distinctive crusts are composed of these tiny organisms and their moulted skin and feces.
- It's almost impossible to get real kefir, a liquid dairy product, in the United States, as it contains so many (harmless) strains of living bacteria, fungi and protozoa that it's considered "contaminated" by FDA standards, even fresh from the vat. Genuine kefir is so alive that the lumpy curds it's derived from not only grow larger inside those vats, but actually split in two as they grow, as if the lumps themselves are reproducing microorganisms.
- In a sense, they are. Biologists believe that such compound colonies of protozoa, that existed in the bacterial mats on the early Earth, were predecessors of all multicell organisms. BTW, kefir grains don't really split. Being lumps of starchy fibrous matrix, produced by bacteria as a substrate to live on, they simply grow large enough to be broken by any agitation of the liquid.
- From the British Isles, we have Stilton, a type of cheese that is REQUIRED to be moldy. This isn't specific to Stilton, it's true of 'most all "blue" cheeses, meaning Roquefort and Gorgonzola are in the same boat. And these aren't the only moldy cheeses. Certain kinds of cheeses allow benign mold to grow on the rind and gradually age the cheese from the outside in.
- In fact, many cheeses employ microorganisms to impart certain qualities to the cheese as they age. Many cheeses known for their distinctive smell (like limburger) become that way due to being regularly washed in a bacterial culture that then feeds on the proto-cheese and alters its composition. But in terms of disgust, most cheeses have nothing on the likes of mimolette, which intentionally lets mites eat into the rind to flavor it.
- There is a specialty restaurant in New York where people pay through the nose to eat such things as deep-fried tarantula. You can also roast them, apparently, together with other delicious creatures, like cockroaches and centipedes among others...
- People have been known to eat live scorpions. Yes, live as in "still got the poisonous stinger".
- In Cambodia, certain villages started eating tarantulas under the Khmer Rouge regime due to famine. They got used to it and still eat them. Arachnovores of the world, unite.
- Fugu, or Japanese blowfish, carries tetrodotoxin (TTX, one of the most potent neurotoxin in the world) in their skin and internal organs. Death by TTX is extremely nasty: rapid full-body paralysis followed by slow asphyxiation, and the patient remains conscious throughout the ordeal; there is no known antidote and the treatment consists of helping the paralyzed victim get oxygen while waiting for his/her body to process the toxin (one wonders how they discovered which bits were safe to eat). Aspiring fugu chefs must take a 3-year course, and the final exam requires the students to prepare a plate of fugu, then eat it. Only 30% of applicants pass (most of them fail the written portion, EMS is on hand to take care of everyone else). Averted nowadays, as most Japanese restaurants serve farm-raised fugu, whose diet does not contain the poisony stuff they need to be screamingly toxic. The finished dish is then sprinkled with a very small amount of highly diluted bottled toxin to get the tingly/numb lips and tongue (if the numbness spreads past your neck, go to the nearest emergency room as fast as your and your friend's legs can carry you).
- Fugu is supposed to have a narcotic effect. Apparently it's good enough to be worth the risk of waking up in your own grave (the active ingredient is a key component in the zombification process - really, no kidding). What some people will go through just to catch a buzz.
- A famous Japanese actor once killed himself after eating four Fugu livers, the most poisonous part of the fish, on a dare. Not at the same time, four separate times in his life.note Similarly, hobos are known to accidentally ingest it after digging through the trash of restaurants. This is why serving fugu liver is illegal in Japan and why it's considered biohazardous material and must be properly disposed of.
- The Emperor of Japan is specifically forbidden from eating Fugu. At least one chef feels that it would be quite safe for him to try, and help get rid of the negative "stereotype".
- The Munchkin Expansion Munchkin Fu has the Fugu card. It givies you a level up... 5/6 of the time. Otherwise, it kills you stone dead.
- Lutefisk, from Scandinavia. Essentially, you take a perfectly good fish, dry it thoroughly until it resembles a 2*4 plank, and let it rot slightly, then soak it in lye and smoke it. Then, you soak it in water to get all the lye out, boil it, and serve it with innocent mashed potatoes which had done nothing to deserve the treatment. The resulting substance often tastes like a science experiment gone tragically wrong. According to some, the best lutefisk is the kind that can dissolve the silverware used to eat it!
Cracked: For those of you who don't know, lye (potassium hydroxide/sodium hydroxide) is a powerful industrial chemical used for cleaning drains, killing plants, de-budding cow horns, powering batteries, and manufacturing biodiesel. Contact with lye can cause chemical burns, permanent scarring, blindness or total deliciousness, depending on whether you pour it onto a herring or your own face.
- Lye is a strong base, so it won't attack silver, but it can cause damage to nickel-based alloys.
- Eating lutefisk is something of a rite of passage for people who live in Minnesota (which, of course, is largely populated by people of Scandanavian descent). Legends of its origins vary from "way to eat fish that had been stored outdoors" to "food intended as a deliberate poison given by St. Patrick to Viking raiders that was declared a delicacy after they ate and loved it."
- Properly made lutefisk is delicious, but the problem is that the right amount of time to soak it in lye is in an extremely narrow range. Too little time, and it tastes hideous. Too long and the lye will turn the meat's entire fat-content into soap, because the way soap is usually made is by treating fats with lye.
- Finns prefer birchwood ash instead of lye as the softening agent. The advantage is that the base of the birchwood ash is potash rather than lye, and it is milder and won't attack the fish fats. Lutefisk prepared with potash usually will not have any rancid odour and the taste is rather pleasant. The risk of saponification (fish fats turning into soap in high pH environment) is minimal compared to lye treatment.
- Potash and Lye can the same thing. You can completely saponify something with potash. Lye is just a generic name for metal hydroxides. Potash refers to potassium hydroxide. It is all akalai. However, what most people call lye is more precisely called caustic soda: sodium hydroxide, which can react differently than potash.
- Surströmming, which is herring that has been fermented. Sold in tins are designed to bend and warp, and (on some unfortunate occasions) occasionally burst open, from the gases released during the process. A polarising delicacy, as you either love it or more often, try to avoid it like the plague — quite literally, as a single tin can stink up a whole building (one person in Germany got evicted after the brine was spilled on a stairwell; he sued, and the landlord's defense was to simply open a can of it in the courtroom. The landlord won the case immediately.). Most airlines explicitly ban passengers from bringing it aboard planes either as a carry-on or as checked luggage. Unsuspecting non-natives have been known to try to alert authorities about biohazards when presented with the dish for the first time.
- The trick is to open the can under water, such as in a water bucket. The herring itself is not decomposed in the fermentation process as the proteins are not attacked by the bacteria. Jamie Oliver compares it to fish sauce, something that initially smells disgusting but is actually pretty good once you start eating it.
- Hakarl is an Icelandic meal made by gutting a Greenland or basking shark, burying it in the sand for 6-12 weeks, cutting it up, and hanging it out to dry for several months. It has a high ammonia content, stinks to high heaven, and will usually trigger a first-time eater's gag reflex. Not surprisingly, eating it is, to quote from The Other Wiki, "often associated with hardiness and strength." Mind you, the whole process is a necessary evil if you want to eat the sharks; they otherwise have too much urea in them to be edible.
- Russians are no slouches in the department of queasy fish, either. Vobla (basically roach fish mummified on the sun with intestines still in) is rather tame, as it only looks horrible. You eat it with your hands, with beer; eating the bladder, too, is a sign of badassery. Smoked Siberian omul is much worse, it emits an astonishingly strong smell of not exactly fresh fish and aggravates the innocent passengers of the Trans-Siberian rails to no end.
- Russians are fond of salting and air-drying fish in general, and actually do this to any fish and/or seafood they encounter, and if the fish has fermented a little too well, then what's a little smell among the friends. In fact, such foods have a distinctive name ("s dushkom", literally "with a litte smell"note ), and are considered a particular delicacy by some.
- Japanese have kusaya, a sort of a middle ground between the surströmming and hakarl, in that the fish is first salt-fermented like the former, and then air-dried like the latter. Even dried, it still stinks to the high heaven, thus the name, but the taste is quite agreeable, much like the Russian example above.
Feeding large armies in the field has led to some rather creative and unique solutions over the centuries:
- Hardtack: An incredibly dense and hard form of bread, valued more for the fact that it will never go bad if kept dry than for its edibility.
- U.S. Civil War: The standard Civil War solution to consuming it was to whack it against a hard surface to knock most of the weevils out, then soaking it in your cup of coffee to soften it up enough to chew. Still consumed in a few places a long way away from regular resupply. Taste-wise, though, it isn't so much bad as it is bland. Think of a biscuit or cookie made out of unsalted hard pretzel dough and you'll have an idea of what it tastes like.
- Finland: Hardtack bread belongs to the daily diet of the Finnish Armed Forces. The usual slang name is vaneri (literally "veneer" or "plywood"), with mess halls called Valtion vanerimurskaamo (State Plywood Crushery). Incredibly, many conscripts actually develop a taste for it.
- The D Ration Bar is essentially the modern warfare equivalent of hardtack. It was essentially a chocolate bar designed to be heat resistant and extremely dense, so that it would be viable for any type of climate as well as being extremely compact yet high in calories so that it could serve as a meal substitute in emergencies (the soldier was only expected to eat it for maybe 2-3 days; afterwards it's expected he'd at least get something like a K-ration, the period equivalent of an MRE). However, to prevent troops from snacking on itnote , the colonel who requested it asked for it to taste "slightly better than a boiled potato". This, combined with the fact that most soldiers couldn't even chew it (some had to shave off bits with a knife and eat the shavings), meant that they would rather starve than eat the damn thing. Later iterations of the bar recognized this problem and were made slightly more palatable.
- Korea: Hardtack is such an integral part of Korean military life that combat uniform thigh pockets are called "hardtack pockets" because that's where soldiers keep their snacks. Not only is it a hardy way of providing fuel to soldiers, a lot of manufacturers include a small packet of candy in which packet of hardtack, meaning that soldiers have another treat to look forward to. And because military service in mandatory in Korea, hardtack has become a popular snack in general as a lot of men will seek it out because of the memories they associate with it and share it with their children.
- Other: Hardtack is still a mainstay of many a combat ration around the world, though the modern versions, like Japanese kanpan or Russian galety, are made with salt and shortening, making them basically indistinguishable from the normal crackers, and thus much more palatable. This is possible as the modern packagingnote allows these much richer crackers to be kept almost as long as the simple hardtack of the past.
- MRE's: The distant successor of Hardtack is the Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE) series of meals, the combat ration of the U.S. Armed Forces. Keeps for years and can be prepared in 15 minutes by literally just adding water, which reacts with the heating element to cook the pouch of food. On the downside, it's notorious for being extremely dry and even causing constipation (a common joke in the American services is that "MRE" stands for "Meal, Refusing to Exit", and Al Franken, on a USO tour in Iraq,note once joked that of the five MREs he'd had, "none had found an exit strategy"). They see wide use in the military, where keeping up with one's nutritional needs on the go is a very high priority, but American civilians who really want to try them can easily purchase them at the local surplus store.
- MREs are so dense-packed with calories, carbs, protein and other nutrients that a single meal has well over 1000 calories in a relatively small amount of food. For the unprepared, it's like crapping bricks.
Fruits and Questionable Vegetables
- Cloves, a seasoning typically found in small quantities in Indian food; they are occasionally boiled whole in something to season it instead of powdered and added. Biting into a clove is easily enough to numb an area of your mouth entirely, which is why eugenol, the chemical that gives cloves their distinctive flavor, is frequently used as a topical painkiller in dentistry.
- Not just Indian food. Whole cloves can be found in several traditional winter dishes in Germany as well, such as plum preserves (both simple home-canned fruit and a kind of marmelade made by slow-cooking the plums with several spices but not much sugar until you get a thick, brown mush to spread on bread) and red cabbage (cooked with vinegar, apples, raisins and cloves and used like cranberry sauce as a side-dish for festive poultry dinners). In both cases, you usually have to take care to spit the cloves out while eating, as there is no feasible way to strain them from the food before serving.
- The durian fruit, known for its notoriously strong odor. So strong, in fact, that metro systems and hotels in Southeast Asia, where durians come from, are known for banning them. The fruit itself has a tough husk covered entirely with the kind of spikes that a cactus would envy. One must wonder how hungry someone must have been to say to himself "the inside of that spiky ball might contain something delicious."note Though, for some people, it is delicious; its flavor has been described as "savory, sweet, and creamy all at once" and "having a hint of chives mixed with powdered sugar". Others have described it as diced garlic and caramel poured into whipped cream".
- Nattō, aka fermented Japanese soybeans. Sticky, stinks like hell, and tastes very bitter, though it's sometimes said that if your natto is bitter then it's spoiled. It's occasionally used in Japanese media as a stock gross-out food. Even the original Iron Chef used it twice as the theme ingredient. Both battles (one versus Michiba, the other versus Morimoto; both prevailed) featured challengers that were sticklers for tradition.
- Lemons. They are great for making a sweet drink and flavoring things, but you have to be pretty masochistic to eat a lemon by itself.
- Balut, a boiled duck or chicken egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside. Although a popular snack in such countries as Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, its unfamiliarity to most Westerners has made it a standard "gross-out" food challenge in such reality game shows as Survivor and Fear Factor. Unlike most examples, the dish itself is merely horrifying in concept and looks (its flavor is somewhere between a cooked egg and cooked chicken), but given what it is, it's actually not that much worse than the bird it would have become, and foreigners who can get past the aesthetics will enthusiastically eat it and ask for more.
- Century Eggs are another Chinese delicacy that often sends foreigners up a hill in revolt. It's an egg that has gone through a fermentation process in alkali that turns the entire egg black and the yolk into a gooey grey mush. Its taste is extremely pungent and polarizing; you either love it or will puke at the merest taste. This is due to the high amounts of iron within the egg (which, given the color, you wouldn't be blamed if you thought there was only iron left in it). The legend on how it's made isn't exactly pleasant either; the rumor is that it was invented by someone soaking eggs in horse urine, doubtless because of its strong ammonia smell.
- Speaking of urine, another type of weird Chinese egg is the "Young Boy Egg" (Or Virgin Boy Egg). It's made by boiling eggs in the urine of 10 year old boys. It's currently considered by UNESCO to be a cultural delicacy and also considered a type of folk medicine.
- You Tube has hundreds of videos of people eating things they probably shouldn't such as straight capsaicin right from the bottle. Just one example is This infoMania Viral Video Film School. Please don't become one of these people.
- Everything mentioned in the Steve, Don't Eat It! series of articles from The Sneeze (except perhaps the "tree brain," which a mushroom fan would instantly recognize as not only edible, but delicious—as Steve found out). If you think the dog treats and pickled pork rinds look unappetising, wait till you see the silkworm cocoons and fungus-infected corn.
- The Travel Channel and it's sister network The Food Channel have hosts delve into this area regularly
- Bizarre Foods and its follow up Bizarre World, each hosted by Andrew Zimmern
- No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain
- Man vs. Food
- Cracked offers a brief summary of the 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World and 9 Horrifying Foods You Won't Believe People Actually Eat.
- Pufferfish don't thrive in the Baltic, but Finns have their own version of cuisinal Russian Roulette: the false morel mushroom (Gyromitra esculenta). False morel is one of the three most lethally toxic mushrooms in the world (the other two are death cap and destroying angel), but unlike those two, fortunately the poison can be extracted from false morels. The usual way to detoxify false morel is parboiling (boiling the mushrooms really fast and throwing the water away, repeating it at least three times), which will (hopefully) render the mushroom edible. Once detoxified, the mushroom itself is utterly delicious. All Finnish schoolchildren are taught how to prepare false morels and all false morels sold fresh in Finland are required by law to be supplied with a warning and preparation guide. Canned false morels have been already processed so they contain no poison. The poison of the false morel is gyromitrin, which will metabolize into highly toxic monomethyl hydrazine, known better as rocket fuel, which damages the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, and is probably carcinogenic too. Fortunately, only two Finns (both small children who accidentally ate raw false morel) are known to have died from gyromitrine poisoning during the 20th century, and none during the 21st.
- Many monks during the Middle Ages, in an attempt to make their food less pleasurable, would sprinkle various powders on it to make it bitter. At least one (who later became a saint) is known to have done this to an extent that another monk who tasted it was laid out for three days with nausea.
- Any place where you can choose what goes in what you want (as in a sandwich, milkshake, etc.) typically has a few disgusting options for the sake of it. An example being a milkshake with pickled beetroot and custard.
- Mämmi, the Finnish Easter delicacy. It is basically unleavened rye pudding. Its taste is simultaneously sour and sweet, and it is usually eaten with cream. Yet it looks exactly like human excrement.
- It is also called poop pudding, not just because it looks like poop, but also because it helps your body with digestion.
- Everything from The Old Wolf's Banquet from Hell, from a certain point of view.
- The Heart Attack Grill. Not so much the taste so much as how disgustingly unhealthy their options are. Their options include fries cooked in pure lard, milkshakes made from butter fat, and more infamously, the "Quadruple Bypass" burger, a four-patty burger that easily tops 9,500 calories, over four times the generally-recommended daily intake for most adults. Since their introduction, they've since gone up to the "Octuple Bypass" burger. The best part is, customers who weigh over 350 pounds and weigh in with staff get to eat a meal for free. And yes, people have suffered fatal heart attacks there.
- Stinky tofu, popular in parts of China, lives up to its name. It smells like concentrated sewage mixed with vomit, and you can usually smell if a street stall is frying it from several blocks away. The proper fermentation process takes months, and enterprising street vendors have been known to take shortcuts...
- The Spartan black soup. There is a famous case of a person from an Italian colony (these had a reputation for being rich and spoiled) tasting it and saying "now I know why Spartans don't give a damn about dying in battle". The Spartans, from their side, claimed that it's quite edible if you live like a man — that is, exercise like a Spartan and swim in ice-cold rivers. Unsurprisingly, no genuine recipe survived, though it's been known from description to contain, in addition to the pig's feet broth, the very same pig's blood, flavored with salt and vinegar, and fortified with chunks of stale bread, and, probably, lentils. No wonder that it was considered an acquired taste.
- There are plenty of recipes from around the world that are basically a way not to waste the nutricious, but fast-spoiling blood of a just-slaughtered animal. And there are plenty of "bread soup" recipes designed to use up stale bread. It's just basic poor-people-food. Europe has various kinds of "blood sausage" (or "black pudding" in the British Isles), which is basically the same as described above, minus the lentils and vinegar, and likely replacing the bread with oats or similar, if it's mass-produced. And while the blood-and-grain mush is normally used as a sausage stuffing, there's a version from East German school meals that was served without the casing, resulting in something that looks exactly like a bad case of diarrhea. It was colloquially known as "Dead Granny". Though at least that dish was cooked. There's are several dishes in Southeast Asia that are based on congealed, raw blood. See also The Other Wiki's lengthy article on blood as food.
- Sour candy. While a lot of sour candy is pretty mild, some sour candies are so sour that they can mild burns on the tongue and mouth if too many are eaten at once and so have to have warnings on the box. Really strong sour candies are marketed with really scary names like Warheads or Toxic Waste.
- Australian conservationists, in an effort to further the battle against the dreaded cane toad, have actually been promoting the idea of people eating them; they even showed up in an episode of Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. The reason this qualifies is, beyond the Stock "Yuck!" of cooked frog's legs, cane toads are covered in toxin-secreting glands with a poisonous mucus so virulent that it can kill crocodiles, which is why the only predators in Australia that can eat them are meat ants, as invertebrates aren't affected by the toad's poison. (Yep, the little bastards are too toxic even for the Land Down Under — or more specifically, toxic in a way that Australia wasn't used to, cane toads being invasive and all.) So, an improperly prepared dish of cooked cane toad can legitimately kill its diner, which has led the idea's original proponents to backpedal and persuade people to only eat meat from professionally butchered toads.
- Kuchikamizake is an alcoholic beverage that is made using human saliva. Rice is chewed up in a human mouth then spat out and left to ferment.
- Tadashi of Onidere is one of two people able to eat Saya's cooking. Every time someone tries it, there is a flashback to the worst pain they have ever endured, and then a multiplier. For Tadashi it was 30 times worse than stubbing his little toe as a child. That was the first bite. The tea served afterwards? Five times worse than 'the entire meal'.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, anything that England cooks is this, due to his preparation. The only character who can eat his food without suffering is America, since he grew up eating his food (he doesn't like it, however). Finland's food is also this, due to the ingredients such as salmiakki, and even his dog describes it as "poison".
- In Ranma ½, Cologne gets a hold of an order of Chinese noodles with an absolutely horrific taste (they managed to knock her, Shampoo, and Mousse out, they were so vile.) But she has crates and crates of the stuff, so, to get rid of it, the Cat Cafè holds a contest: she'll hide a mystical "noodle of strength" in a mountain of the rancid ones. Cue the egotistical martial artists in town (and a few Muggles) scarfing their way to the (quite literal) afterlife. Oh, and the strength-giving noodle? It tasted even worse. And it didn't work as advertised.
- Again, when Ukyou was sick and Ranma, Akane, and Konatsu volunteered to tend to her restaurant, Akane's okonomiyaki were so gruesome no one would eat them. Ranma is then inspired to hold a similar contest, with a prize going to whoever could finish their whole meal. Akane was not amused.
- And also related to Akane: after a whole saga involving her trying to get Ranma to eat her home-made cookies, he finally takes them just to make her happy. He spends the next week bedridden. The several dozen incriminating photographs he had disposed of earlier probably didn't help.
- The very first time Akane's cooking entered the scene, Ranma and Genma retched and gagged, but didn't even call Akane out on it (yet) and instead just ran away. When Ryoga tasted it, he was visibly in serious pain but he kept grinning madly and eating it just for the joy of having Akane's cooking. In the original manga version, cue Ranma himself forcing himself to eat it just to prove to Akane that he liked it too (in other words, to prevent from being "shown up" by Ryoga). Needless to say, that was the last time in the series he would dare to try giving her cooking a chance, and otherwise would have to be forced to eat it.
- A very literal masochist's meal is prepared in MM!, when Mio attempts to make squid ink pasta. (Key word: attempts.) The first to try it is Tarou, the masochist who enjoys any pain or discomfort inflicted on him by a girl. Naturally, he loves it. Then a couple other people try it...
- Some ingredients on Toriko are even more dangerous to eat than they are to catch or prepare. In the "Gourmet Casino" arc, Toriko eats a Nitro Cherry and barely survives since it's like eating a lit stick of dynamite. And he only survived because he ate two other masochistic foods — the Dynami-Dragonfly, another explosive ingredient that reduces the effects of other explosives, and the Troll Cheese, whose foul odor messed up Toriko's super sense of smell so that he wouldn't succumb to the Nitro Cherry's fumes. Near the end of the arc, he eats a Poison Potato, the most poisonous food in the world, one that not even Coco can fully neutralize. Luckily for Toriko, the Poison Potato is compatible with his Gourmet Cells, so he gets a powerup instead of a nasty death.
- All food with the exception of coffee and water is this to the titular Ghouls of Tokyo Ghoul. It tastes incredibly vile to them, often causing them to become violently ill — tricks have been developed to pass for human by swallowing small bites whole, creating the illusion of eating without having to taste it. However, their bodies cannot digest the food and if they don't throw it up within a short period of time, it will make them seriously ill. Because her Muggle Best Friend is a Supreme Chef, Touka frequently forces down human meals for her friend and makes herself ill. On the other hand, Kaneki gives some horrifying descriptions of what human food tastes like, often comparing it to rotting garbage or various inedible substances.
- Fairy Tail includes a species of allegedly edible fish which taste terrible no matter what you do to try and prepare them. Naturally, they are often the only available source of food.
- Shokugeki no Soma: Jouichiro Yukihira is widely considered a god in the culinary world, and his son Soma is, at age 15, already looking like he will surpass his dad. Both are capable of turning out dishes that are literally Better Than Sex, but they also take delight in experimenting with flavor combinations that God never intended to see the light of day. The standouts so far are Soma's charcoal-grilled squid tentacles with peanut butter and Jouichiro's dried sardines in strawberry jam. When Soma sees one of his dorm-mates collapse after sampling one of Jouichiro's dishes (snake, boiled with the skin on), he immediately tries it and:
Oh, pops, this is legendarily bad!I know, right?! Straight into the ten best bad recipes!
- A quite literal case appears in Blend-S. Maika accidentally putting vinegar, salt and Tabasco hot sauce into her limited time menu dessert, mistaking them for vanilla extract, sugar, and food colouring respectively. The dessert actually becomes a hit with the customers due to Maika being the cafe's "sadist waitress" servicing a bunch of masochist customers.
- Miia's cooking in Daily Life with Monster Girl is terrifying. Despite this, Ren Kunanzuki, the daughter of Rachnera's previous host family, manages to finish an entire plate of it even though the smell alone caused her to pass out after every bite. No one else even bothers to eat it, they just feed it to Suu since she's immune to being poisoned.
- In Astérix in Corsica, there's a cheese whose smell can knock out non-Corsicans; it also occasionally explodes. Related to Casu Marzu? It's not the right island, but close...
- In Asterix the Legionary, the secret of the Roman Army's success is discussed: The worse the food, the better the army as it keeps the men grumpy. On tasting the food (wheat, bacon and cheese cooked together to save time), Asterix comments that he didn't think the army was that powerful, along with similar commentaries from the rest of the squad... save for the Briton, who likes it.
- One issue of Usagi Yojimbo has an official die of fugu poisoning, it turns out an apprentice chef had switched the intended meal with his own inexpert preparation. When discovered the culprit commits suicide by swallowing a puffer fish liver.
- Played with in Men of War when the villagers perform an elaborate ceremony serving the invading mercenaries large eggs containing unborn chicks which they choke down out of respect. Turns out its a practical joke.
Nick (a mercenary): So you guys eat this all the time or is just for... uhm... ceremonies?Po (a villager): Are you kidding? We don't eat that shit!
- In Star Trek: Generations, Data has just acquired emotions, and is having a drink (type unstated) in Ten Forward. He tastes it twice, concludes "I hate this! It is revolting!" ... and then immediately accepts Guinan's offer of a refill.
- In End of Days, Schwarzenegger's character is seen starting his day by mixing coffee, beer, pepto bismol, leftover chinese food, and a slice of pizza dropped on the floor in a blender and then chugging the resulting concoction. Ick.
- In The A-Team, Murdoch makes Face and B.A. some steaks that have been burnt beyond imagining through the application of gunpowder on the meat. He then offers them some of his "secret sauce", which is antifreeze. Face mentions how he got temporary Bell's Palsy last time, so Murdoch tells him to "take it like a man".
- In The Returner Mizoguchi shows he's a tough guy at his meeting with the Triads by eating his lobster-shell and all.
- In Around the World in 80 Days (2004), while visiting Passepartout's village in rural China, his mother gives Phileas a cup of rice wine that is implied to be both homemade and EXTREMELY potent. Phileas takes it and drinks it with a smile on his face and, still smiling, declares it to be "absolutely vile", no doubt grateful that the old lady can't speak English. Still doesn't stop him from drinking enough to get completely sauced.
- The Discworld books have several examples:
Rincewind: "Dwarf bread?"
- Dwarf bread is tremendously useful for surviving in the wilderness with, because if you have some on hand, you're always willing to find something else to eat. Like your own foot. This is because dwarf bread is so hard, it's of better use as a blunt instrument.
Mad: "Too right! That's what kept us going across thousands of miles of shark-infested ocean. If we hadn't had that sack of dwarf bread we'd—"
Rincewind: "—never have been able to club the sharks to death?"
Mad: "Ah, you're a man who knows your breads."
- Apart from dwarf bread, dwarf cuisine consists of "what the dwarfs found underground — rats, snails, worms (useful protein), bits of stone and so on". Dwarfs are famed for their sauces, since no one would eat rat without something to hide the taste. In Ankh-Morpork, "fusion" cuisine aimed at humans is designed to look a bit like actual dwarf cookery, while being in a very real sense nothing like it.
- The Compleat Discworld Atlas introduces the related concept of Dwarf Chocolate, which takes a form suspiciously like a Toblerone bar and is described as being hard as concrete, taking the form of serrated teeth rising from a bar, and - worst - may contain nuts. It has been used as an impromptu weapon and as a means of extracting stubborn teeth.
- In Pyramids there's a parody of fugu which contains a poison that, if not removed, causes the eater to expand like a blowfish and explode. It's traditionally served with roots that need to be prepared exactly over several days, or else they react catastrophically with stomach acid. This is described as 'fish and chips For Men'.
- This shows up again in Interesting Times, being used by the Evil Chancellor.
- Further Discworld example: CMOT Dibbler's sausage-inna-bun. It's possible that the books exaggerate, but they're described as the culinary equivalent of a B-movie: they're absolutely awful, yet somehow appealing.
- His Fourecks counterpart, Fair Go Dibbler, serves a meat pie floater. Apparently you have to be astonishingly drunk to consider eating one a good idea. In fact, all food served by Dibblers are like this, from Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah's disturbingly live yoghurt (he had to keep hitting it with a spoon to stop it escaping) to May-I-Be-Kicked-In-My-Own-Ice-Hole Dibooki's chunks of blubber (Rincewind reflects that it's one thing to butcher beached whales, and something else to just wait until they explode into bite-sized peices on their own). Inverted with Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala, who we first see being accosted by a customer complaining that he's been sold a fresh egg, rather than one that's a thousand years old.
- And yet another: Sam Vimes is the first man to be brave enough to refuse to eat the "tribal delicacies" of the D'hregs, guessing that the D'hregs are having him on and that nobody could eat that rubbish. He's right.
- Although it's doubtful that he actually intended to digest the thing, a performer in Maskerade is seen applying mustard to a blade in preparation for his sword-swallowing stage act.
- In A Hat Full of Sky, one of the flashbacks Tiffany experiences from a past victim of the Hiver is that of a long-ago desert queen who'd poisoned her enemies. Emerging from the memory-flash, the young witch groggily murmurs about a scorpion sandwich.
- The Monstrous Regiment has an experienced corporal (who had only one actual limb not made of wood, with at least one of his legs having gone by being swapped with another man's to stave off starvation in a campaign, which they considered preferable to Autocannibalism) make it pretty clear to the recruits to expect this in military life should they have anything at all. A thin soup made of...whatever called scubbo is frequently mentioned. To the shock of absolutely everyone, the squad's lieutenant rather likes the stuff. The corporal in particular prefers rat over horse.
- In The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson, the three nannies, after the infant prince is kidnapped from under their noses, punish themselves by inflicting horrible meals on themselves, vowing to never ever again eat something they like, until the prince is rescued ... the earliest opportunity for which is after nine years of horrible food, and dipping their toes in ice water whenver they start to feel too good. When, finally, a rescue team can make it through the magic portal, the nannies sit in front of a crate of bananas, hoping to be able to open it, soon. (Their punishment is entirely self-inflicted, the Queen and King are much too kind to punish them at all.)
- All of Pervian food in Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures. As Aahz once put it: "The biggest problem with Pervian food is to keep it from crawling away from your dish while you are eating it..." And it stinks.
- In the comic book, they mention that they serve this stuff on purpose to scare away would-be interdimensional tourists.
- On one occasion, Skeeve walked into a Pervish restaurant and ordered something Klahddish... only to be served a stuffed Klahd. Not really, but only because the place didn't have a license to serve sentient creatures.
- Gleep the baby dragon is sometimes seen swallowing unidentified things he's found in gutters or basements. Usually Skeeve is glad not to have a clue what they are, as the number of legs sticking out between his pet's jaws is disturbing enough.
- Just about everything Miss Mush cooks in the Wayside School series.
- Ironically, she's fine if she just cooks for one person. She cooks for over 300.
- Specific dishes she's made include "Baloney-Os" (Oreo cookies with a slice o baloney in the center - Ms. Jules at them while pregnant), a mystery mushroom dish (which seemed to look strange but actually not taste bad, though it had the side effect of making the eater zonk out and kiss whoever's nearest. It's implied that the students might not have minded it after seeing it tasted okay, but Ms. Jules made production of it stop) and potato salad (which also seemed to taste all right, but came to life when molded into the image of Mrs Gorf. It's not clear if this was a property of the potato salad or if it was more of Mrs. Gorf's evil magic.)
- Moonglow in the Star Wars universe is not unpleasant to eat (the description makes it sound rather like an Asian pear), but requires a ninety-seven step process carried out by a trained chef to make it safely edible.
- In Bridge of Birds, improperly prepared porcupine meat — and when we say improper, we mean such as cutting the meat into pieces of the wrong shape — will kill you in a horrible way that we won't even go into here.
- Well, maybe...it must be noted that "porcupine poisoning" doesn't actually happen to anyone in the book. Two characters claim that it happened to someone as part of a ruse. The whole scene reads like some finicky gourmet's preferences got mixed up with actual cautions, similar to those concerning fugu, to create an Urban Legend of epic proportions.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dragon's Honor seems to take this to its logical extreme. Our intrepid crew is having dinner on a planet based on ancient China, and Picard's politeness regarding the local (hideous) cuisine bites him on the butt. The emperor orders the most elaborate dish possible. It hasn't been prepared in a hundred years, and it's an honor just to be part of the staff cooking it. It's a vile conglomeration of miscellaneous animal parts, mostly from venomous creatures. Picard has been eating stuff that makes fugu look palatable all night, and says that he can't eat it. Continuing to be dense, the emperor suspects that Picard may not want any because it was prepared wrong. He tosses a bit of it to a dog, who dies within seconds.
- The dog died because the dish was poisoned on purpose, not because it was improperly prepared. But that wasn't why Picard refused to eat it. It's just that after all the other vile pieces of 'gourmet cuisine' he had consumed over the course of that wedding feast, he just couldn't bring himself to swallow something that smelled like a Klingon locker room.
- In Star Trek Klingon food and drink are often like this. Example: Gagh is unprocessed serpent worms, usually eaten live. The taste is revolting and it is eaten solely for the unique sensation of the gagh spasming in one's mouth and stomach in their death throes.
- In Deep Space Nine, Ezri implies that you're supposed to eat it whole, and alive.
- In another Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Riker becomes violently ill (to the point where he has to be beamed directly to sickbay) from having lunch with Worf and forgetting that some Klingon foods that are indigestible to humans (Dr. Crusher had given him a list). His reaction after being treated? "Bring on the next course."
- Riker actually spent time with Klingons in the episode "A Matter of Honor", so he'd learned to stomach a number of Klingon foods and seemed to find it something worth experiencing.
- Klingon tea is deadly to humans and not particularly good for Klingons. It's consumed in a ceremony with two or more participants as a test of courage and to show that "Death is an experience best shared". Thankfully for Dr. Katherine Pulaski, she is aware both of the poisonous nature of the tea leaves and what to take beforehand as an antidote.
- An interesting twist occured in one episode, where Riker tries to make omelettes from alien eggs, only to end up with the food declared horrid and inedible by his crewmates...except for Worf, who thanks to his Bizarre Alien Biology is scarfing down his helping and enthusiastically asks for seconds.
- There's an episode of CSI: NY where the murder is tracked to a festival of bizarre foods such as deep-fired tarantula, with the murder weapon being a live squid. The squid was meant to be eaten alive after its tentacles were bound, but the killer deliberately left them loose so the victim would choke on it.
- Top Gear (UK): Jeremy Clarkson's extremely manly V8 smoothie.
- It works as a drink up until Jeremy added the brick.
- The two businessmen played by Key And Peele in this sketch start off ordering perfectly sensible soul food. It gets weirder.
- Dave Lister's fixation with vindaloo curry in Red Dwarf. Lister is a man who drinks vindaloo sauce for breakfast. It is said his shishkebabs require enough chilis to boost a small rocket into space. His chosen vindaloo becomes a weapon that slays space monsters and fells a tyrannosaur. When the Starbug runs out of all forms of curry, it precipitates a disaster that escalates until the course of human history is altered and the USA is destroyed as a world power. His crewmate Armold Rimmer once eats a Lister special sandwich (three fried eggs in strong vindaloo sauce) when drunk, and loves it. He regrets it later.
- Banica Conchita from The Evillious Chronicles. Fittingly representing Gluttony in the Seven Deadly Sins arc, she was willing to eat just about anything, no matter how grisly or disgusting. This inevitably leads to cannibalism...and then cannibalism of the "auto" variety...
- In A Prairie Home Companion episode of The Lives of The Cowboys called The Second Lefty, the titular character engages in a high-stakes game of Scrabble with Dusty. During the match the Second Lefty orders a whiskey, and soon after we hear a crunching sound. Dusty asks him not to chew his ice cubes while pondering his next move. The Second Lefty replies it wasn't ice; he was chewing the neck of the bottle.
Second Lefty: I happen to like glass.
- Dragon: The Embers: Dragons can eat non-food-like "foods" such as gasoline and ammonium nitrate/fuel oil, though they suffer temporary minor penalties for doing so. But so long as it burns well, it recharges their Breath.
- Warhammer 40,000: Orks regularly engage in a unique kind of eating contest where they attempt to eat a live squig. Bear in mind that squigs in general have More Teeth than the Osmond Family and are very hungry at all times, meaning that the contest is basically to eat a squig before it eats you. This is only one of many Ork cultural elements, dietary traits and hobbies that boil down to Testosterone Poisoning, to the point where a lot of Ork flyers path the fuel lines through the cockpit in case the pilot gets thirsty.
- "Yumyuck moss", in this Goblins comic.*
Minmax: "You dwarves actually eat that crap?"
Forgath: "Yeah, but we're usually drunk."
- El Goonish Shive gives us the Pancake Mount Doom Meal - "A dozen flapjacks, a variety of fruit fillings, sides of bacon, sausage, hash browns, three kinds of syrup, and your choice of eggs" at the standard Greasy Spoon restaurant. Though the food itself is edible (and likely delicious), it's the quantity that pushes it into this territory. Naturally, only husky people have managed to finish it... and Grace.
- The Order of the Stick Xykon, before he lost his sense of taste as a result of becoming undead, enjoyed drinking disgusting coffee, because whenever he drank a cup of bad coffee, it would remind him of every better cup of coffee he ever drank.
- Delicious Fruit is what the people of I Wanna Be the Guy eat. You know, those enormously lethal, gravity-defying apple/cherry/things that kill you in one hit? (just like everything else) According to the creator of the game, people have to knock them off trees with sticks and then they boil them three times to eliminate all the poison. If you only boil a Delicious Fruit twice, it turns into a bouncing ripe red engine of death, as evidenced by the Breakout level. And people eat these things!
- But... they're Delicious...
- Kingdom of Loathing has all kinds of unpleasant foods, like brain-meltingly-hot chicken wings or centipede eggs, which inflict damage, substat-loss, or a negative status effect if you eat them. Dwarf bread is included as a shout-out to the Discworld example above, and although you have the option of eating it, you can also throw it at enemies to stun them. However, special mention goes to black pudding, which is described thusly: "This is either a sausage made of congealed animal blood, or an acidic underground-dwelling scavenging ooze. Either way, mmmm-yummy." Sure enough, if you try to eat it, it has a 35% chance of attacking you. There's actually a trophy you can earn for defeating 240 of them in combat... which takes about three straight months (real-world time) of stuffing your face with black pudding every day.
- There are several meals and drinks that can only be created when your bartender-innabox or chef-innabox explodes. They're universally horrible things, such as the "white chocolate and tomato pizza" and the "tomato daiquiri". Consuming enough of these two get you the Weeping Pizza and Disgusting Cocktail trophies, respectively.
- Another special mention must go to World's most unappetizing beverage, which is... you know.No really, what is it?
- The PVP revamp introduced "nailswurst", which is probably the closest thing on here to the page image, and "used beer". Yep. Neither of these gains you adventures, but they piss you off (giving you extra PVP fights.)
- In Jade Empire you can meet Chai Jin, an exotic chef. The dishes are revolting and downright damaging - depending on what you choose you'll hurt your body, mind or spirit - but if you sit through three courses of escalating grief to your system, you won't have to pay. You can then also try his newest meal, which is so horrid he won't even describe it, and which he hasn't even tried himself yet. If you survive the thoroughly harrowing cuisine, you can either warn him of its danger or tell him it's delicious. If you choose the latter, he will sample the food and drop dead.
- The game implies that the man who gave him the recipes is Sir Roderick Ponce von Fontlebottom, a man from the game's equivalent of England. It's possible that the dishes are standard English cuisine like Bubble & Squeak or a Full English, with them only being considered disgusting due to cultural differences.
- Lampshaded in The Lord of the Rings Online. In one dungeon infested with undead, you can find a piece of cheese. If one didn't think a piece of cheese found in thousand-years old ruins would be bad to eat, the description for the cheese even says "It's quite smelly and no doubt highly deadly. Only the unwise would eat it." Eating it results in a big Damage over Time-effect that lasts for 20 minutes, in addition to the character title "The Unwise".
- NieR: Automata plays with this trope with mackerel, a fish that is safe for humans to eat. When consumed by androids, however, it is as dangerous and lethal as eating a blowfish; bodily fluids congeal, paralysis sets in, and death follows shortly thereafter. Reportedly, however, it is still very delicious, even as it kills you. You can eat it, too, if you like.
- Cuisine in World of Warcraft is a bizarre and frightening thing. You can buy innocuous enough food from vendors, like grapes, bread, fruit juice, tea, or filtered water, but if you pick up the Cooking skill, bad things start to happen immediately. If you can kill it and it's not obviously sentient (with the exception of murlocs), somebody's figured out a way to make it into a stat-boosting food. You can learn to make bat wings, rat stew, spider cake, wolf steak, bear burgers, rhino stew, ravager sausages, chimera chops, and a brand of chili so hot that it causes you to randomly breathe flame, among many other options.
- Bear is the odd man out on this list, as it is in fact quite a tasty meal.
- Subverted by the "Sinner's Sandwich" in Deadly Premonition. Upon hearing its list of bizarre ingredients, York assumes it's this type of food, meant to be eaten as atonement for one's sins. Upon actually trying it, however, he announces that it is in fact delicious.
- To wit: Turkey, jam, and breakfast cereal on your bread of choice. There are more than a few posts on various websites and forums that attest the sandwich is in fact as delicious as York says it is, with the cereal and turkey creating a pleasant balance of crunchy and firm textures while the jam takes front and center on the flavor.
- In Persona 4, when individually lethal chefs Chie and Yukiko join forces, the result is a concoction that Yosuke aptly names "Mystery Food X". You can choose to eat it willingly (if your Courage stat is high enough) or be forced to eat it because there's no other way out, but either way, one bite makes the protagonist and Brosuke faint with a very loud crash as they hit the table.
- Persona 3 has the Wild Duck Burger, a burger with mysterious ingredients. Eating it will increase your Courage stat.
- In Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na: Moonlight Cradle, Trattoria Samon begins offering intensely spicy pasta dishes. One of the side stories involves Karen and Wreathlit trying to one-up each other: Karen succeeds in finishing the spiciest dish available, while Wreath gives up in the final round, leaving Karen to finish her plate.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, for one quest you have to imitate a world famous chef and make his signature dish (which you have to improvise for), the player has the option of adding some absolutely insane ingredients (Vampire dust? A septim? A giant's toe?!) Humorously enough, if you choose the most outrageous options the dish actually turns out fantastic despite the dodgy items you put in there.
- Team Fortress 2 gives us the extremely rare Robo-Sandvich—it's made from bread-shaped chunks of sheet metal, screws, circuit boards, a blinking light, a switch, valve knobs, loose wires, and what look to be pieces of carpet. In spite of its sharp edges, unappetizing appearance, and more iron content than some of the game's maps, the Heavy can still eat it to heal his health completely.
- Then there's the Festive Sandvich, which doesn't seem like much except it's gift-wrapped, and the Heavy doesn't bother to unwrap it before chowing down.
- Though not implemented in the game as of yet, this mod turned community contribution has all the hallmarks of this trope. The only nod it has to actually being food is the presence of bread. The rest of it consists of Huntsman arrows, spy knives, minigun bullets, and a railroad spike. To top it all off, what was once a toothpick with an olive is now a needle from the syringe gun.
- In Monster Hunter Tri, one of the food items at the canteen you can eat for buffs is Thorny Meat, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. According to the chef, the prickliness has made it surprisingly popular.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 3-1 probably qualifies, as Phoenix willingly chows down a glass bottle with poison residue. And survives it just fine. If that doesn't taste as pain, I don't know what does! He didn't outlive the taste of betrayal within that bottle just as easily though.
- In Billy vs. SNAKEMAN, the Ultimate Pizza is topped with red onions, blue peppers, beef, pepperoni, broccoli, kaiju flakes (as in the dried remains of giant monsters) and 9mm bullets. Yes, it's edible, and grants incredible bonuses.
- In Oxygen Not Included, the most basic food you can make for your Duplicants is the Mush Bar, which is made from dirt and water. It's basically a stick of mud that's been heavily processed into something vaguely edible. Not only is it the lowest possible food quality level, but it can give Duplicants diarrhea.
- Braindeath 'Rum' also known as unsanitary swill from RuneScape. The ingredients include stagnant water, mind controlling sluglings, blindweed, and the corpse of a disease carrying fever spider. The examine text for a bottle of it says "I think it is eating through the bottle." and if you drink it, you receive the message "With a sense of impending doom you drink the 'rum'. You try very hard not to die."
- Toyed with in Spongebob Squarepants. When a guy is trying to get in the Salty Spitoon:
Reg: How tough are ya?Tough Guy: How tough am I? HOW TOUGH AM I?! I had a bowl of nails for breakfast this morning!Reg: Yeah, so?Tough Guy: Without any milk.Reg: (visibly intimidated) Uh, right this way, sorry to keep you waiting...
- The Fairly OddParents! has an episode with this. The pain lovers pizza (land mines, barb wire, sand bags, bomb stuffed crust.) and the unlucky pizza (after eating he got an anvil on his head, a safe, a piano with a player(cupid))
- Archer: "The secret ingredient...is phone.
- Wildcat's 'Tiger Tonic' in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Not even Batman can stomach the stuff. Metamorpho, however, loves it...
"It's got fish and bananas!"
- The Simpsons: Homer has a brush with death when he eats a poorly prepared Fugu fish.
- That was overflowing with Critical Research Failure as they treated as a standard (and ridiculously slow-acting) poison instead of a neurotoxin.
- "Homer Simpson Vs The City Of New York" has the infamous Klav Kalash vendor. While stuck at WTC Plaza waiting for a traffic cop, a hungry Homer buys a weird ethnic food called klav kalash from a vendor, which looks like some sort of meat on a stick. It apparently tastes awful, though Homer still finishes it. He then buys several cans of a crab juice soft drink from the vendor. About 20 seasons later, the Simpsons return to New York, and Homer discovers that the vendor has now become a successfull entrepeneur with a franchise of klav kalash restaurants.
- In one episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie makes a batch of strawberry cinnamon cilantro cupcakes. One of them made the mail pony too nauseous to finish his route, and even Pinkie herself has trouble choking them down. Despite this, she still offers one to Rarity.
Rarity: After that visually descriptive and disturbing endorsement, I'll pass.
- Secrets and Pies has Rainbow Dash bake a literal "humble pie" to eat as punishment for herself, as a way of apologizing for treating Pinkie's pies as rubbish. It looks like a pastry version of Harmburger from Awful Hospital and is constructed from some kinda concrete with trash as filling. Pinkie describes it as a "smelly circular monstrosity" and is quick to stop Rainbow Dash from eating any.