Top 5 Disgusting Delicacies

Delicacies in other countries may seem disgusting at first glance, but chefs and dietitians say they can be delicious and nutritious.

Just imagine the protein and minerals in an appetizing course of balut, followed by warm Casu Marzu, sizzling boodog and a refreshing bite of hasma for dessert.

Technically that's boiled duck fetus, maggot-ridden cheese, a beheaded goat stuffed with stones and frog fallopian tubes. The whole meal is a good source of protein.


Below is a list of foods you may find disgusting, delicious and perhaps nutritious -- if you can only bring yourself to try them.

Corn Smut, or Huitlacoche

For years farmers in the U.S. tried to avoid the fungal infection called corn smut. But Americans are discovering the tasty treat people in central and southern Mexico never stopped eating.

"It looks like a stalk of corn that looks like a brain, it's all lumpy but it's grey," said Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Once the fungus infects the corn, the kernels expand and change color to various shades of grey and black. As the fungus grows it also changes the corn's flavor and adds nutrients.

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"It has tons of fiber, it also has beta-glucans which it's a kind of carbohydrate, and it's got a lot of other free sugars, which is very unusual for a mushroom," said Gerbstadt.

Corn smut, called huitlacoche in Latin America, also adds cancer protecting antimutigens and lysine to the corn, Gerbstadt said.

"Corn doesn't have lysine in it, but when it [corn smut] is growing on it, it increases lysine," said Gerbstadt. Lysine is one of the eight essential amino acids, meaning its one of the amino acids the body cannot make itself and needs to get from food.

"Funny, in the States we historically treat it as a blight -- but now it is popping up more and more in your local farmers markets as a delicacy," said Chicago-area chef Rick Bayless.

A woman holds huitlacoche in a food market in Mexico City.

Bayless described huitlacoche as having "a gentle corn flavor, since the mushroom itself grows on an ear of corn."

"[It's] great as a filling in enchiladas or taquitos. Huitlacoche is a treasure in Mexico," said Bayless, owner of the Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and XOXO in Chicago. "In Topolobampo we serve a huitlacoche tart with our Oaxacan black mole."

Celebrity chef Marcela Valladolid called huitlacoche the "Mexican truffle."

"Huitlacoche is typically eaten as a filling for quesadillas or with any tortilla-based food. Also great stuffed in crepes," said Valladolid, author of "Fresh Mexico" and host of "Mexican Made Easy" on the Food Network.

"It originates from ancient Aztec cuisine and is also considered a delicacy in Mexico," she said.

Escamoles, or Ant Eggs

Only one percent of people in the U.S. refuse to eat eggs in some form, according to the Vegetarian Resource Council.

Chances are most of those egg-eating folk are choosing eggs from chickens. A few of us will try duck, quail or ostrich eggs once or twice.

So why not try ant eggs, and name them escamoles?

That was apparently the conclusion of many in Latin America where the Liometopum ants thrive and produce rice-sized larvae.

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