Smelliest Foods in the World

a close-up of a fruit

When it comes to stinky food I used to think that a variety of cheeses were the biggest culprits out there. Then years later I started to hear about durian, a fruit which has a god-awful smell.

During a trip to Thailand we first came face to face with the stinky durian. Often times  we could smell it from a block away due to street vendors cutting open large quantities of the fruit to sell.

While at a floating market outside of Bangkok I dared Kim to give the durian a try. (Being an extremely picky eater, I was not up to the challenge.) Kim stepped up to the plate to take one  (sniff, gag) for the team.

Just as we were about to purchase a small plate of durian, a family of tourists trying out the fruit offered Kim a sample from their purchase. We thanked them and Kim took a small piece on a fork to try out. (It’s better to not touch the durian with your fingers or else you might have a difficult time getting the smell off of your hands.)

The family told Kim how it didn’t taste so bad once you got over the smell.

Kim took a small bite and the look on her face said it all, total disgust. She decided that it was worth one more try so she tried to block the smell and try again. This time she agreed that the taste wasn’t nearly as bad as the smell. However, it wasn’t like she was interested in trying it again.

Conde Naste Traveler put together a fun slideshow featuring The Smelliest Food in the World.

I was interested in seeing what made the cut.

Here is the list:

  1. Natto- Japan: fermented soybeans eaten with “many different foodstuffs”
  2. Iru- Nigeria: fermented locust beans used as a seasoning
  3. Limburger Cheese- Western Europe: smells like foot odor or toe jam due to using the same bacteria
  4. Century Egg- chicken, duck or quail ovum packed away for 3 years , it has an odor similar to cat urine.
  5. Hongeo- Korea: Skate served raw and rotten, smells like ammonia due to uric acid
  6. Surstromming: Fermented Swedish fish herrings
  7. Durian: Stinky fruit popular around Southeast Asia with a “unique combination of custardy texture and “noxious decayed onion perfume”.
  8. Stinky Tofu: “Fresh tofu bathes in a brine of fermented milk, meat, vegetables… along with a putrid garbage odor”

While reading over the list I was surprised to see some familiar items. I haven’t come in close contact to any but durian (and possibly Limburger Cheese) but I had heard about some from the Travel Channel Show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.

If any of you have tried or come in close contact with any of the food from this list, I’d love to hear what it was like. If you have any other stinky foods to suggest for us to cover our noses from, please let us know too!

Find out more about each of the Smelliest Foods in the World HERE.

3 thoughts on “Smelliest Foods in the World

  1. Dave- Thanks for the info! Stinky tofu definitely does not sound like a food I’d be willing to try!

    Nick O- Thanks for sharing! It’s definitely interesting to hear your thoughts about natto.

  2. I’ve had natto a few times and didn’t find it particularly strong smelling, or tasting for that matter. After seeing/reading Anthony Bourdain show his distaste for it, I thought it was going to be way worse.

  3. haha stinky tofu – yes a common find in street vendors in Taiwan where i am from, usually at a night market. never saw it in a restaurant type of establishment, i suppose the “aroma” will stink up the whole floor. at open space street market place, at least the ‘ventilation’ is less of an issue. the only time i experienced it in the states is in Houston back in 2006. as soon as i stepped out of the car at a chinatown at Bellaire, I can smell it from a block away. it was hidden deep in the back of all the other places. had to try it, just ok…the next time I went it was gone. hard to describe what it taste like, it was fried, already “flavorful”, then with pickled cabbages garnish and soy sauce and red chile for dipping it in.

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