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A food museum for rabbit heads and maggot cheese!

November 06, 2018 08:37 IST

Sheep eyeball juice, frog smoothies and fruit bat soup... Which one do you find yucky?

IMAGE: The Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, Sweden. The museum opened last Wednesday and will remain open till January 27. Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

Eww, yuck, disgusting, blechhh…. These are just some of the words one is bound to hear at this new museum -- the Disgusting Food Museum.


Opened in Malmo, Sweden, the museum contains chock full of revolting dishes from all around the world.

IMAGE: Leon and Saga try Hakarl -- well-aged shark from Iceland at the Disgusting Food Museum. Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

According to curator Samuel West, the reason behind this temporary museum, besides entertainment, is 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.

The museum is a 400-square-metre olfactory experience, where visitors can smell, touch and taste different foods that have been considered “disgusting” around the world.

‘Yucky’ foods available at the museum

(Scroll sideways for a glimpse at the various foods displayed at the museum)

The idea for the exhibition was prompted, in part, by his concerns about the ecological impact of eating meat and his own environmental footprint. He said he hoped the exhibition would stimulate discussion about sustainable protein sources.

IMAGE: Andreas Ahrens, curator and museum director, serves visitors Surstromming – fermented herring from Sweden, outside the museum. Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

More than 80 items from 35 countries will be on display: Haggis, the Scottish delicacy made of offal and oatmeal, traditionally boiled in a bag made from a sheep’s stomach; Vegemite, the thick, black yeasty spread from Australia; and Spam, the pink-hued canned cooked pork product that American troops introduced to the cuisine of the Pacific Islanders in the years following World War II, will be represented.

Some of the delicacies are so smelly they are kept in glass jars. At a museum preview last week, people took tentative sniffs of the displays before recoiling with grimaces.

“Real food in the museum setting can be a problem,” said Andreas Ahrens, museum director and curator. “You have to change things pretty regularly. You have to make sure that it doesn’t start to rot.”

Or as West put it: “You can’t leave bull testicles out for too long.”

IMAGE: Among other food items present at the museum is a Mongolian Bloody Mary, made with pickled goat eyeballs and tomato juice. Would you be able to stomach this? Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

Some of the food also proved to almost be too much, added Dr West, like the surströmming – that’s Swedish for “sour herring” and is fermented herring.

“We tested it, and tested it and were almost kicked out of our current office space because of the smell,” he said. “I think we’ve got it solved, but I’m not sure. It’s one of those things that keeps me awake at night.”

IMAGE: Balut or balot, a boiled duck embryo is also displayed at the museum. Most Filipinos are fine with eating this. Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

The museum worked with the anthropology department of Lund University to come up with its list and the criteria were simple but strict:

>> It has to be real food and not just some novelty item like bacon-flavoured ice cream

>> It has to disgust many people

IMAGE: Samuel West, curator and chief disgustologist, holds Su Callu - a cheese made of a kid's milk-filled stomach at the Disgusting Food Museum. Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

So what's topping West's very own list of disgust then? “Fermented Icelandic shark - it tastes like death mixed with ammonia,” he laughs.

"I think Anthony Bourdain described it as the single most disgusting thing he's ever eaten - and I can only agree."

People in Iceland will likely beg to differ - and hence be proving the very point of the museum.

IMAGE: Mouse wine is displayed at the Disgusting Food Museum. Photograph: TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/Reuters

West has said after three months he plans to take the Disgusting Food Museum on tour to cities around the world.