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Ever wondered which foods are the most pungent in the world? No matter what their funky scents entail, smelly foods can often be coupled with surprising tastes and unique delicacies around the world. Here are some smell-ridden foods you should definitely check out on your next holiday!


This stinky specialty is considered a delightful delicacy in Sweden. Surströmming is herring that has been fermented for 3 years in a barrel and then put into cans for yet another year of stewing in its own juices. While this process creates what the Swedish consider to be a delicious treat, the smell of the finished product is similar to rancid butter. Try it if you dare!


The Japanese are known for their incredible cuisine, which is why it’s so surprising that they’ve managed to create this stinky dish called Natto! Natto is a fermented soybean dish and is far from the most aromatically appealing creation coming out of Japan. Eaten for breakfast with rice or sushi, Natto has a slimy, gooey texture and a stench that resembles that of rotten eggs. That said, the dish is still very popular in the eastern regions of Japan.


Scandinavians know how to create some powerfully odorous foods, but even they have outdone themselves with this “rotten shark meat” dish, which is usually served in small cubes. An Icelandic delicacy, Hákari has a smell that closely mimics cleaning products! Why? It actually does consist of a high amount of natural ammonia, which is produced by the shark’s skin when it dies. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey apparently tried this chow – and then spat it straight out!

Durian Fruit

If you don’t want to get arrested or scoffed at on public transport in Asia, then you’d better not be carrying a durian fruit! While it’s commonly known as “the king of fruit”, durian is so smelly that it’s either taboo or downright illegal to carry it on trains and buses in certain countries (like Thailand and Singapore). Although it apparently smells like rotten onions, locals often use durian to make smoothies, ice cream and sweet buns. Either love it or hate it!

Vieux Boulogne Cheese

If you’re looking to clear a room quickly, look no further than Vieux Boulogne cheese. This well known creamy cheese comes from Northern France and is made from fermented raw milk that has been dipped in beer. It 05/be a French delicacy, but it also supposedly smells like rotting vegetables! Like the durian fruit, it is so stinky that it’s also been banned on various modes of public transport.


The Yoruba people of West Africa are the proud creators of this highly pungent dish. Iru is made from fermented locust beans, which are then cooked down into a paste and used to flavour soups and stews. This food is most popular in Nigerian cooking – let’s just hope it tastes better than it smells!


An Inuit specialty in Greenland, Kiviak is made by wrapping a bundle of dead auk birds in seal skin and then burying them for several months. During the process, the birds’ flesh decays and liquefies and turns into a very scent-challenging final product. To enjoy, simply remove the head of your chosen bird and suck out the juicy remains through a straw! Kiviak apparently smells awful, but tastes like matured cheese and is served as a treat on special occasions.