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1st June 2012

Smelly food can often be an acquired taste, you either love it or hate it. In the UK it’s often blue cheese that leads to this kind of reaction, the smell putting some people off completely they won’t even try it. But a bit of blue cheese is nothing compared to some of the stenches that come from around the world. From rotting fish to years old soy beans, these are some of the world’s smelliest food that would put off even the most adventurous eater.


A popular Japanese breakfast dish often eaten with rice, natto consists of fermented soya beans AKA soya beans left in a warm place for several months until they go incredibly gooey and slimy. When we say slimy, we really mean it: thick strings of gooey bean fermentation all over them. As you can imagine, consisting of nothing but old beans the dish does not smell good – combine that with the gooey, slimy texture this is most definitely an acquired taste.


Durian is a fruit so stinky it’s banned on public transport in several Southeast Asian countries. (Seriously.) The pungent smell is divisive, words that have been used to describe the smell include: rotten onions, smelly socks and turpentine. Despite it’s stench (and not being able to take it on public transport) it’s still a popular fruit in many countries but don’t expect to find it in your local Tesco’s any time soon.


Also known as hundred-year egg or even thousand-year egg, century egg is a Chinese delicacy of duck, chicken quail’s egg preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice hulls for months. What comes out is a green/brown squishy egg that smells of sulphur and ammonia. AKA, it smells like a really gone off egg and urine. If you haven’t been put off yet, it’s also known as “horse urine egg” in some Southeast Asian countries. Yum.


Icelandic for ‘shark’, harkarl is, in short: rotten shark. The greenland shark it is made from is poisonous when fresh due to the high content of urea (the shark’s pee filters through the skin), the fermentation process consists of leaving it under sand and heavy rocks to press the fluids out of the shark and then hang it up to dry for several months. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, the shark meat is said to smell incredibly strongly of ammonia, often causing people to gag (or worse) when they first try it. It even proved too much for Gordon Ramsey, who threw after tasting it.