“Yuck” or “yum”? Sometimes it depends on where you grew up.
That’s the point the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, Sweden, is serving up, along with sheep eyeball juice, frog smoothies and Jell-O salad.
The temporary museum opened Wednesday (yes, on Halloween), and curator Samuel West says it’s meant to entertain, but also to get people to think about what they consider repulsive. He says he hopes it will encourage more people to try alternative sources of protein, like insects and lab-grown meat.
But along the way, why not take a sniff (or a gag) at the foods on display? Most items can be smelled or tasted.
Sidle on up to “balut,” partially developed duck fetuses that are boiled inside the egg and eaten straight from the shell in the Philippines, as well as “casu marzu,” a Sardinian pecorino cheese infested by maggots.
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“Disgust is hardwired as an emotion,” West said, “but what we find disgusting is culturally learned.”
Easy for him to say, as we move on to a bull’s penis, a wine made of baby mice that is consumed in China and Korea, and Sweden’s “surstromming,” an infamously putrid fermented herring.
There are also some things Western visitors might not consider disgusting at all. Swedish visitors are surprised to find salty licorice, popular at home but perceived as disgusting to many.
American foods on display include Jell-O salad (the one on display has olives in it, which even some Americans will disavow); canned pork brains with milk gravy; and root beer, which Swedes say tastes like toothpaste.
West, who originally is from California, said he has managed only to sample about half of the more exotic collected consumables. Did he ever vomit while preping the exhibition? “Every day.”
The Disgusting Food Museum is scheduled to run until Jan. 27 at the Slagthuset MMX in Malmo.
Contributing: The Associated Press