When I’m at a dinner table and I bring out something I believe to be really tasty food and someone immediately says something like, “Oh, there’s no way I am eating that,” I cannot help but get just a little irate.
On the flip side, though, that’s what food brings out in people: deep emotions whether good or bad. That’s the same reason why we ask people what their favorite food is before we ask them about their job. You either love burgers or tacos or pizza—whatever it is, there’s something out there that excites you enough to drive to a shop.
While most foods are either a definite yes or just a whatever, some foods don’t have much of a middle ground. People will either eat it for as long as they live or burn the recipe into ashes. These divisive foods are what sparks our curiosity the most when it comes to cooking because they have the strongest flavors.
You either love them with all your heart or hate them with a burning passion, but if you haven’t tried them, then what in the world are you doing? Whatever you choose to feel after you’ve given these a shot is up to you, but you cannot go through life without knowing. Here’s a list of foods you need to try if you want to be classified as a foodie in our books:
Much like Southeast Asia, Durian is divisive. Tourists either love it or won’t stand to have another bite. The spiky fruit is known across Asia for having rich flavors and tempting the adventurous to give it a bite. The drawback, you ask? Well, you have to get over the smell. So, if you eat with your eyes or your nose, this one’s going to be tough. There are various varieties of the fruit, but imagine walking into a boy’s locker room after a game of baseball and then throwing in some rotten fish. It’s not pleasant, to say the least.
If you do manage to get over that, durian could win you over, but it does depend on your individual tastes and where you were raised.
21. Horse Meat
As awful as this may sound to some people, a lot of others think it’s just another item on their bucket list or just totally normal. Considering my cousin managed to convince her husband to eat it saying it was chicken, a lot of it’s in our heads. Even though Canada and the United States haven’t accepted it with open arms, horse meat is fairly popular across Europe. You’ll easily find vans across Slovenia that sell burgers that use horse meat. Even though people in the US may find this disgusting, for most people in Slovenia, it tastes normal, and if you bite into it with no prior judgment, it would taste normal to you, too.
Oh, shark meat. If you’re sitting in Canada or the US, you’re appalled, but if you’re in Australia, you’re pretty ‘whatever’ about this one. Some countries are just used to it because it’s part of their everyday cuisine, while others find it hard to stomach quite literally. In some places like Australia, it’s called ‘flake’ so as to help the people that get squeamish easily. If you remember my article about stuff that Anthony Bourdain ate, you’ll remember how Iceland ferments their shark meat and leaves it out to dry so, what I’m trying to say is, begin trying this one in Australia because Iceland’s version is for the brave.
Another fruit on our list, noni took the health industry by storm because of its amazing properties that are known to help various illnesses and conditions. A greenish fruit with white segments as well kind of looks like a rubber ball, it seems like something that could be squashed fairly easily. The Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia are famous for this one because of the climate needed for it to grow. It has great anti-inflammatory properties, which is what brought it to the attention of nutritionists and celebrities alike.
If you’re googling how to get this delivered to you ASAP, maybe hold out for a bit because the taste is disgusting. It reminds you of rotten food and vinegar combined into one horrible combination. You’re going to have to be really into health to put yourself through this one.
Haggis has its good and bad points. The best way I could think of to describe Haggis is that it’s a beer left out in the sun for ages to the point where it’s warm—still a great beer but a warm beer. Scotland’s most famous dish was probably made by a lazy Scotsman who threw every ingredient he had in his house into a bowl and was pleasantly surprised that it tasted good. At least that’s what it looks like. It’s a mixture of sheep heart, liver, and lungs as well as chopped onions, herbs, spices, oatmeal, and stock. The final taste that comes out of it is relatively dry but slightly spicy. If you aren’t one for gravy and can eat your cereal with no milk, you may like it.
Another Bourdain classic, Balut is eaten across Southeast Asian countries and is considered a delicacy. This fertilized duck embryo is only for the bravest of us. This divide in taste basically comes from the fact that it’s a very different culture. Most people in the Southeast of Asia grew up on these, while people in the West view it as a challenge at best and a nightmare at worst. Eating a hard-boiled duck embryo for the first time isn’t the simplest task, but people have done it and lived to tell the tale. Some even like it enough to have it a second time.
One of the healthiest options out there, celery doesn’t have many takers, unfortunately enough. It’s one of the key ingredients used when making countless soups and sauces, but having it plain is a nightmare for quite a few. Even though health freaks swear that it tastes pretty great, all of us sane ones will never understand how it can be enjoyable. When cooked, it can add some amount of flavor, but having it plain is asking for trouble. It normally tastes crunchy, watery, and fibrous. Some research has even shown that people have lost weight by simply eating celery because it’s one of the few negative calorie foods. Enough to convince you?
Oysters are another one that tends to divide people. In France, it’s considered a delicacy, and if you haven’t tried it, you’re nothing but a mad man. To the rest of the world, though, it’s a little more complicated. Even though oysters are known to be a dish enjoyed by the wealthy, sometimes, that’s not enough to get people to give it a go. All that’s really in this dish is lemon juice and Tabasco, and that’s at best. Oysters are served alive, which is part of the excitement. Essentially, raw oysters are alive when you eat them, which is another factor that divides people.
14. Black Licorice
Black licorice is a confection that’s been flavored by the roots of the licorice plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. Licorice sweets are produced the world over, and some people love them. You can get anything from salty licorice to gummy candy when it comes to licorice. Licorice can be anything from sweet to salty to bitter to sore, so it’s anyone’s guess what you’re going to bite into, which, in essence, depends on the variety you go for. According to NBC news, the reason so many of us hate black licorice is our inherent like or dislike towards saccharin.
13. Blue Cheese
Personally, blue cheese is a bit much for me, and I’m quite happy with just the original variety of the same. The smell that comes from rotting blue cheese is what kills all chances that I’ll try it, and I’m quite sure that I’m not alone. The milk proteins in cheese are what cause it to decay, and in blue cheese, the fact that it’s decayed is heightened to the point where there’s mold. This also has a pretty strong smell to it, which is what keeps certain people from loving the variety. Essentially, whether you like it or not comes down to whether your nose affects what you eat.
Whether you love them or hate them, pawpaws are a fruit that hasn’t really become all that famous just yet. It hails from North America, where people are recently discovering the amazing qualities it has to offer. This, unfortunately, doesn’t take away from the fact that it can smell pretty bad or, as some people call it, smells like a ‘dirty banana.’ While a lot of pawpaw lovers say the smell is quite nice, tons of people flat-out disagree, so it does all depend. Pawpaw is sunny and tropical, so think Hawaii when you bite into it.
Cilantro or coriander has a smell that some people describe as fragrant, while others think it’s disgusting. Otherwise known as “Chinese parsley,” cilantro is completely edible, but most people use the seeds and leaves while cooking. I, for one, am biased towards cilantro because I do find the smell quite refreshing, and adding it to any salad I make is a must. It makes for an excellent garnish for most dishes as well.
On the flip side, though, some people cannot stand it. A lot of research has shown us that we like or dislike it because of inherent traits. While saying this, people have been known to grow to like it over time—call it the dulling of senses, I suppose.
I hate this one with a burning passion along with fish as a whole, but I’m going to try to be unbiased for the sake of science and food. Fish sauce has created quite a few enemies over time whether that’s because of its horrific smell or just the taste in general. Even so, there are some fish sauce lovers out there, plenty in fact.
In Southeast Asia, fish sauce actually has anchovies in most cases, which is another way in which it’s divisive. A lot of people love these dishes, but if you aren’t one of them and still want to try Thai food, you could try having something that diffuses it a bit with a lot of other ingredients.
If you go to the south of the United States, okra is pretty much everywhere, and not liking it is practically a crime. For a lot of people, though, this is a hard one to digest. A lot of people complain about the number of seeds it has, and it wound up as being something with limited takers. Also known as ladies’ fingers because of its shape, okra can be fried, grilled, baked, and everything in between, so it’s a pretty flexible ingredient to work with. I’d personally push anyone who’s on the fence towards trying it, but for a lot of people, this could end badly.
Oh, the deception… It looks like painted corn, but it just isn’t. Candy corn is most commonly found in the United States and is distributed when it’s Halloween. Candy corn may be modeled after corn, but it tastes like anything but. According to a spokesperson from The Jelly Belly Candy Company, which is a company that entered the candy industry thanks to candy corn, it’s supposed to taste like creamy fondant, rich marshmallow, and warm vanilla when a person bites into it. While some kids are all over this one, others would prefer a simple Snickers—it all depends. Whether you spit it out or buy them by the truckload just depends on taste, plain and simple.
Olives may look very fancy, and every margarita you get may have these green devils on the side, but most people pick them up and put them to the side. Only a few can stomach them with great ease because of its very particular taste. Olives can be sweet or salty, depending on the variety you’re buying. Ionians, which are basically black olives, are sweeter than their bitter version, which is the traditional green olives. So, if you’re finding trying olives hard because of the bitter taste they leave in your mouth, try starting with the black ones.
Everyone loves milk chocolate, while dark chocolate loses a few fans, but white chocolate is by far the most divisive. The flavor is mostly sweet and creamy, which means people who love the bold chocolate flavor that comes from the more common brown chocolate find it hard to love. It’s a pleasant flavor, but the sweetness isn’t as strong. Some of the best white chocolates available are either the Lindt Lindor white chocolate truffles, which you can buy from Waitrose if you’re in the UK or Amazon if you’re elsewhere as well as the Ritter Sport crisp chocolate bar.
Pineapple on Pizza
A social media debate for the history books, pineapple pizza has scored legions of fans while also making quite a few haters. The sweet and sour combination doesn’t work for everyone, but for the ones who do love it, nothing compares. When Gordon Ramsay finally tried pineapple pizza, he was appalled at the combination and had some pretty strong words to describe what he was feeling. After, ‘eating the monstrosity,’ he pretty much vowed to never touch it again.
One of his reactions that fans loved was “The only thing Hawaii on this board, is that I’d love to drop it in the ocean.” I agree, Gordon. I 100% agree.
Cottage cheese is very famous in India, a country that’s predominately vegetarian. This substitute for meat is known as paneer in the Indian subcontinent. It tastes really good when made with spices and good gravy, but for Western countries, cottage cheese isn’t as well accepted. This could be because it doesn’t fit in as well when it comes to the way of cooking or just because if you grow up as a meat eater, you’re unlikely to love its substitute. Cottage cheese is essentially a fresh cheese curd, so it’s a far healthier option, which is why more people are giving it a shot.
Ever been to Subway and seen someone finish half a bottle of Mayo when picking condiments while the second person won’t touch it? That’s the power of mayonnaise for you.
Some people call it an evil creation, while others wouldn’t want to live without it. This hate could be because of the many advertisements that put a layer that’s so thick, it’s unrealistic. When it comes to mayo, balance is imperative. People who’ve been victim to a sandwich that contains too much haven’t been able to recover at times, with zero mayo being their new preference.
One word: Bounty. Some will order anything coconut, while others cannot bear it. Apart from in Bounty, coconut is also used in a good curry, juices, and countless desserts. Everyone knows that a dessert becomes divisive once you add some coconut to it. Coconut shards are a topping for a sundae as well, but not many go for it.
Similarly, Bounty is known to sell slower than a Snickers bar, for example. So, this is another one down to personal taste, but there really is no middle ground. You’re either hoarding Bounty chocolates in your basement or avoiding them like the plague.
Vegemite or Marmite
Marmite is essentially made from yeast extract, which is a by-product that comes from beer brewing. Marmite was even included in soldiers’ rations, so it does have quite a history for England. It’s become a brand of its own, and it doesn’t just come in jars anymore. You can find anything from Marmite Mini Cheddar Bites to Marmite crisps.
Marmite or Vegemite have a very strong taste and a thin layer is for the best. People in the United States aren’t as fond of this one as people down under are, so it’s probably best to leave it at that before arguments ensue.