From poisonous fish to fruit bat soup here are 10 foods that can kill you.
The National Fruit of Jamaica Ackee is a mixed blessing originally native to West Africa migrated to jamaica in 1778. Not all of the fruit is safe to eat, however the only edible portion is the yellow arilli inside. Surrounding the arilli are the toxic black seeds. Not only is a certain part of the fruit edible, you can only safely prepare it at a certain time of year. Only when the fruit ripens and opens naturally revealing the yellow arilli and the black seeds is it safe to prepare Akee for eating .
Since that’s the National Fruit of Jamaica, it should come as no surprise that the national dish is Akee with codfish this is for you adventurous types I don’t think I’m brave enough.
Image via caribbeanandco.com
Sannakji also known as Korean Viagra Sannakji are the wriggling tentacles of baby octopus and supposedly can boost a man’s sexual stamina.
Usually eaten in winter a baby octopus has it’s tentacles immediately removed after being killed each leg of an octopus has its own brain which causes the tentacle to move and wriggle even after it’s been separated from the body.
The nerve activity gradually fades so the tentacles must be eaten quickly to get the full effect. Imagine the tentacles trying to grab onto the inside of your throat. The tentacles are served with sesame seeds and sesame oil or they can be dipped into a sauce. if not chewed up enough the tentacles can choke the diner on their way down.
While no individual reports of people dying could be found, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that some people didn’t chew their food like they’re supposed to and suffered the consequences. Animal activists in the United States most notably PETA have tried to stop this practice. Saying that cutting off the tentacles of a still living animal is cruel. South Koreans argue that Sannakji are killed prior to serving, it’s only the nerve activity that remains alive for a short while.
8. Casu Marzu
cheese is usually made through a process using enzymes and bacteria to turn curds into cheese. In Sardinia however there’s an extra special ingredient maggots. Its name Casu Marzu literally means rotting cheese and it has a second equally charming name walking cheese.
Made with goats milk it starts off life as a thoroughly respectable kind of cheese called Pecorino Sardo which is soaked in brine and smoked but instead of being left to cure in a cheese cellar the cheese is left out in the open for flies to lay their eggs in it.
The cheese is considered ready when the eggs hatch into larvae and it’s only good to eat for as long as the larva is alive. People describe the flavor as pungent.
The danger comes in the maggots if the maggots make it to the intestinal tract while still alive, they can burrow into the body and cause lesions abdominal pain nausea vomiting and bloody diarrhoea . The health risk is so high that this traditional cheese has been declared illegal by the European union . Also its advised that diners where eye gear as the maggots tend to jump.
Puffer fish or fugu in Japanese is considered a delicacy in the Land of the Rising Sun. This fish belongs to the world’s most toxic group of fish and only certain parts of its body can be eaten. The liver skin and ovaries contain high amounts of tetrodotoxin which is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide.
The toxin works by paralyzing the victim and suffocating them. Only chefs that have undergone two years of rigorous training are allowed to prepare this dish, this is to prevent anyone from eating the toxic parts. You might remember hearing about deadly Fugu from an episode of The Simpsons where Homer Simpson nearly dies from eating improperly prepared puffer fish.
In reality people have died from consuming the wrong parts of this fish usually from improper preparation. Despite heavy regulations diners play a sort of culinary Russian roulette by eating thin slivers of the toxic skin sashimi-style. In 2015, 5 men at a Japanese restaurant decided to step things up by asking for the liver to be prepared for their enjoyment, the next morning they began having breathing difficulties and violent vomiting before they ultimately died.
6. Raw blood soup
Now on to Vietnam where you can be served a bright red dish comprised of the raw blood of ducks, geese and sometimes pigs. In Vietnamese it’s called Tiet canh and it’s so deadly the Vietnamese government is trying to make it illegal.
To prepare this soup fresh blood is taken from a duck goose or pig and mixed with the meat of that animal. The meat is often cooked beforehand with peanuts and herbs. To keep the blood from coagulating a fish sauce is added and the whole mixture is watered down with some of the broth from the cooked meat.
The main danger of eating raw blood soup comes from bird flu. It is nearly impossible to pass the h1n1 virus from bird to human unless the raw blood is consumed as is the case with this dish. 61 people in Vietnam contracted bird flu in 2005 and 16 of those died from the illness. This was the worst year for bird flu cases in Vietnam due to the h5n1 virus. In 2004 20 people died from each five and one in Vietnam and 29 contracted the disease.
5. Giant bullfrogs
Giant bullfrogs one of Namibia’s culinary specialties is the giant bullfrog. Giant bullfrogs can eat other reptiles, birds and whole snakes. Fully grown these huge amphibians pose no danger to humans, the danger comes when the Frog selected for supper happens to be a tad too young .
Premature bullfrogs which are the ones that have not bred yet, carry a poison in their tongues and surrounding flesh that can cause temporary kidney failure. If immediate medical attention is sought death is not likely but the eater will be sick for a long time. Locals try to prevent sickness from accidental poisoning by lining their pots with branches of a local plant. According to them it negates the poison but this is anecdotal at best.
4. Poke weed
In the southern United States, there is a plant with grape like berries, when fully grown its reddish-purple stems make it easily visible against the surrounding greener fields woods and ditches. It’s called pokeweed and its appearance is very similar to the European elderberry like the elderberry the entire plant is toxic however in the spring some people love to eat it.
Poke weed also called poke berry gets its name from the Native American word Pacon which refers to a plant used for dyeing and staining. The berries make a lovely red color that Native Americans used to die feathers, arrow shafts, garments and even horses. At one point in time Europeans even used it to add color to wine though that practice was discontinued.
The berries themselves are the least poisonous but can still cause bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea which can be deadly in small children. Adults have died from accidentally consuming the roots of the plant which are the most toxic. The leaves picked in the spring while the plant is still young are used to make poke salad. The leaves are boiled multiple times with the water drained away between each boiling . How many times they are boiled depends on local convention. Properly prepared it’s a delicious local food improperly prepared it can send a diner straight to the hospital or the grave.
3. Blood clams
Clams are popular seafood dish eaten cooked or raw all clams have blood and most of the time that blood is clear except for one variety Anadara ovalis also known as the blood clam.
Blood clams contain haemoglobin which makes their blood red. The haemoglobin not only changes the color but also makes the clamp susceptible to blood-borne diseases that can affect humans, like hepatitis. Which hepatitis? All of them, in particular hepatitis A which is caused by raw sewage getting into the sea water. In fact the risk of contracting disease from blood clams is so high the traditional dish is banned in china where the clams are only boiled for 20 seconds before being served. It’s believed that the rawer the clam, the better the flavor.
Blood clams are growing in popularity in New England at the moment the people who sell them claim that the clams are disease free and completely safe to eat. Maybe, maybe not still sounds kind of risky to me.
If you have gone shopping in a really nice liquor store, you may have seen elderberry liqueur or wine or maybe while browsing the jam selections in a supermarket you’ve come across items comprised mainly of elderberry or with elderberry as an ingredient. This has never happened to me personally and I didn’t even know what elderberries were until now.
Some herbalist claim the herb lowers cholesterol and boost the immune system among other things but that’s only the actual berries. The leaves twigs and seeds of the elderberry plant are very toxic. They contain cyanide producing glycoside if the berries themselves are not yet ripe they are also toxic.
If a jam wine or tea are not prepared correctly, then the victim can suffer nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and even get into a coma. If medical attention isn’t found right away the person can die. Some of these berries are really aggressive.
And now for number one.
Fruit bat soup. When guns were introduced to Guam it suddenly became easier for locals to kill and eat their indigenous fruit bat the Mariana flying fox this doesn’t sound so bad unless you’re the bat.
But researchers noticed that after people started using guns there was a sudden surge in neurological disorders that was a nightmare combinations of Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer’s. It came to be called Myotrophic lateral sclerosis parkinsonian dementia complex ALSPDC. This illness causes muscle weakness, paralysis, dementia and death.
In the village of Umatac alone one-quarter to one-third of all deaths between 1944 and 1953 were attributed to the disorder. The Mariana flying fox enjoys eating fruit especially fruit from the fern like cycad tree. This fruit contains a neurotoxin which accumulates in the flesh of the bat over time. When people come along to eat the bat they ingest the neurotoxin and that is what causes this new disease which continues to afflict traditional eaters in Guam today.
Fruit bat soup is made by taking a bat washing it and then boiling it whole with other ingredients and coconut milk. People will then eat the whole thing down to the bones.