Cazu Marzu (Italy)
Let’s ease into this one. Lots of people eat cheese made from sheep’s milk. On the isle of Sardinia in Italy, they prefer Pecorino. They also like it served a very specific way. Rather than just fermenting the cheese, they just go ahead and give it a push into the “rotting” territory by inviting maggots to the party. Cheese flies are allowed to lay their eggs, which hatch and start chewing their way through. They start to break down the fats and this makes the cheese very soft. So soft, the Pecorino begins to “cry” (as the locals put it) as the digested fatty liquid leaks out.
When it’s time to consume the devil-cheese, it’s decision time. Some go for the full experience and eat it, maggots and all. For the faint of heart, one can also seal the cheese in a bag which causes the maggots to lose oxygen and start launching themselves out of the cheese at distances up to 15 centimeters.
Oysters push the idea of freshness to the logical conclusion. They must be cooked or eaten while they are still alive. While they can be boiled, baked or prepared any number of ways, the most delightful method is on the half shell. This means half the shell is cut open or “shucked” while they’re still alive to expose the sweet, sweet innards. Various sauces or juices can be added to the gelatinous mass, but the idea is to get that mollusc into your stomach before it’s legally dead. Obviously the best way to do that is just pick them up and slurp the bloody things down like a two bit whore.
A popular food, as in so popular you can buy it on the street from a cart in some places, is a type of live octopus called Sannakji. The concept is pretty low tech. Small, live octopuses are cut into pieces and served squirming about on a plate. Usually a mild oil or sauce and seasoning are added. Sometimes they don’t even cut them up and simply serve the whole friggin’ octopus. And if you’re right now thinking: don’t octopi have suction cups on those tentacles.The tentacles do in fact pose a choking hazard, especially as you’d also probably be downing a fair bit of potent “soju”, a rice booze popular in Korea. While they encourage you to chew well, many opt to feel the meat squirm as it goes down their throat
Drunken shrimp (China)
A Chinese dish, drunken shrimp consists of a big bowl of prawns, seasoning and strong liquor called Baijiu which is about 40-60% alcohol by volume. The shrimp are not cooked, though hopefully they get some kind of cleaning before they are thrown into the dish still alive. The alcohol stuns the little buggers, making them sluggish and easier to handle. In Japan, a similar dish called Odori ebi exists that substitutes sake as the liquor of choice. Also, since Japanese people are all about one-upmanship, they only eat baby shrimps.