Europe's Worst Cuisines

by Esther Schindler


Do you have a taste for rancid blue cheese, but find it can be improved by the added tang of rotten fish? Then try Iceland's great speciality, Hakarl - putrefied shark. Hungry Icelanders found that the uremic acid that renders raw Greenland shark inedible could be removed by burying the meat in gravel for a few months, producing a sort of piscine Jerky with an ammoniac stench so powerful it could blow the doors off a Transit van.

I think I'm glad they didn't come up with a list of American food's worst examples.

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Such as?

I'm quite aware there are some bad food options here in the US, but here it's usually due to over-processing. I don't think we customarily eat anything quite as bad as putrefied shark in rancid cheese... in gravel. I have to draw the line there.

Jeff Chausse, 2006-05-31

Jeff: I'm sure that there are some people who would put grits on the list. My father-in-law worked with someone who hated grits so much that he made a point of ordering it for breakfast every morning... just so he could put his cigarette out in the bowl of grits.

(I, however, LIKE grits.)

And then there are the odd combinations, like putting vinegar on french fries; that's common in Rhode Island, as I'm sure you know (my brother lives in Providence) but unheard-of elsewhere.

Esther Schindler, 2006-05-31

Esther - Vinegar on fries is huge on New Jersey (US) boardwalks. In fact, malt vinegar is used as often as ketchup is from what I understand...

Chris Toohey, 2006-05-31

Esther - Vinegar on chips is perfectly normal in England (and also most of the rest of the UK), malt vinegar has even been nominated as one of the icons of England.

Armin Grewe, 2006-05-31

Vinegar? Chips? (not the same as french fries as any fule kno) Grits? Rancid shark?

Just think yourself lucky you don't get to dine in Korea too often...

Chris Linfoot, 2006-05-31

Yes, fish & chips soaked in vinegar and wrapped in old newspaper, in all my years in England I never got used to that stuff. And then there is Marmite: either you love it or hate it...

Marmite is definitely in the top ten of Europe's Worst Cuisines ;-)

Moritz Schroeder, 2006-05-31

Some of us Kiwis enjoy vinegar on chips - yummy!

English Fish & Chips are pretty bad - the fish isn't so bad but the chips are so bland it always seemed like I was chewing on the packet.

Marmite or Vegemite is ok if you get the right brand...or so I've been led to believe. Last year when I travelled to the UK, I was asked to bring the family I stayed with, 6 x 1kg pottles of the NZ stuff because it tastes better than the native UK stuff. To this day I have no idea if this is true of they were just tricking me into paying excess luggage!?

I liked the reference to Bath buns - we got suckered into a couple of those - what a letdown!

Colin Williams, 2006-05-31

How about scrapple? I actually like the taste prepared the right way, but you just have to suspend any thoughts about what's inside.

Kevan Emmott, 2006-05-31

English Fish & Chips are pretty bad - the fish isn't so bad but the chips are so bland it always seemed like I was chewing on the packet.Colin, that is a gross generalisation man! :o) I have had some pretty bad fish & chips in my time, but also some very good stuff too...

Ben Poole, 2006-05-31

Well we got some nasty stuff here too:

- Chicken feet (not chops, the feet, just the hard part of the claws cut off)
- Durian (this is a love-it or hate-it fruit that is banned from public transport for its smell)
- Century egg (Don't know why it is black)
- All sorts of insects
..... go to Hong Kong, officially forbidden but available if you know the right people:
- living monkey brain

:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2006-06-01

@Ben - you're probably right but I can honestly say that during our visit to the UK last year, we experienced the blandest food I've ever exerienced in my entire life. It wasn't just a matter of salt or seasoning - the food simply lacked the zing/life/pizazz that I'm used to.

Which is not to say I didn't enjoy picking up a cone of chips on the way home from the pub on a freezing cold night and smothering them in vinegar! :)

Colin Williams, 2006-06-01

@Stephan - I LOVE chickens feet - always makes me feel like a paleontologist as I reassemble the remains on my plate ;)

Colin Williams, 2006-06-01

Chris Linfoot, I'm impressed that you survived Korea's dishes. This gives me a complete new perspective on that part of our world ... ;)

Cem Basman, 2006-06-01

I would nominate lukefisk, a norwegian fish stew whose consistence is, well, slime. beaaaurgh.

moritz, fish & chips soaked in vinegar and wrapped in old newspaper is an uncomparable culinary experience - provided you have consumed about 5 pints of beer. And life without Marmite would be unthinkable!

Andrew Magerman, 2006-06-01


You have nothing on
- the Aberdeen Buttrie
(You've gotta read the questions and answers. Especially regarding the "Torry Eagle")

- The Deep Fried Mars bar

and the king of the puddin race- the Haggis!


Scotland may not be going to the world cup, but we're certainly hitting the cholesterol testing kits...

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2006-06-02


you forgot the deep fried pizza, pineapple rings, pickled eggs, Snicker bars, bananas and even deep fried Haggis. Do you want chips with that?

Armin Grewe, 2006-06-03

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