Yes, There Are More Foods That Should Not Exist

In Depth

Welcome to the latest edition of Foods That Should Not Exist, our regular series in which we ask the searching question: how much can one person piss off the Internet?

Let’s do this.

Hakarl — Including Hakarl on this list is almost cheating — especially since I’m breaking my “have to have eaten it” rule. I don’t even care, though — this shit is too bizarre not to have on one of these lists. For those unfamiliar with Hakarl, a native delicacy of Iceland, it’s made by taking rotten Greenland Shark meat (they can’t use fresh Greenland shark because the things are fucking poisonous — no, seriously), burying it in a fucking hole, covering it with sand, gravel, and stones, letting it sit there for up to a year, then cutting it into strips and hanging it up for another half a year. Nothing in that previous sentence is made-up or exaggerated in any way. I would say more, but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the idea that people eat FUCKING YEAR AND A HALF-OLD SHARK THAT WAS ROTTEN TO BEGIN WITH. Jesus H. Fucktacos, Iceland, is inflicting this on other cultures revenge for the fact that we know so little about you that we made you the bad guys in Mighty Ducks 2 (even though you don’t even really play hockey)?

…OK, that’s actually pretty fair, if it is.

Poutine — Speaking of hockey, I’m still mad, Canada.

Middle America’s Version of Kung Pao Chicken — What the fuck, Middle America? Is everyone West of Philadelphia (born and raised) (sorry, I’m terrible) and East of Denver allergic to hoisin sauce? Did the entire population of Pittsburgh suffer a tragic taste-bud obliterating chemical spill into the groundwater (I’m not ruling this out; it would explain Primanti Brothers)? Can we somehow blame it on the St. Louis Cardinals? Please? Whatever it is, while you can find perfectly acceptable General Tso’s or Moo Shoo in basically every major Metropolis, when you order Kung Pao Chicken in a place like Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, you’re pretty much getting chicken tenders/boiled chicken topped with finest gutter extract. I’ve never been to Chicago, so I can’t comment on whether they manage to not fuck this up, but since that’s the place that gave us a tomato sauce swimming pool for chipmunks and called it “pizza,” I don’t have high hopes.

Manhattan Clam Chowder — This has to be the genetic New Englander coming out in me (something that ordinarily only happens during Yankees games), but what the everloving fuck? Why would you take New England Clam Chowder, one of the most perfect soups ever devised by man, and ruin it with tomatoes? The first time I ever saw it, I was working in a restaurant and served it to a customer, and she asked me why I looked like I wanted to cry. Fun fact: in 1939, Maine introduced a bill that would’ve made it illegal to put tomatoes into clam chowder within state lines. Other fun fact: my grandparents were living in Maine at the time. I do not consider these two facts to be coincidental.

Steak Well-Done — Would you prefer it if I took off my boot and grilled it up for you? It’d probably taste better than a well-done steak. Look, if you’re silly enough that you can’t psychologically handle a little bit of pink in your steak, fine; that’s what medium well is for. Ordering a well-done steak is basically announcing to the world: “Hi, my taste buds have atrophied, so please prepare for me a hunk of charred cancer.”

Borscht — Nothing sums up the Russian/Ukrainian character quite like Borscht. It tastes like despondency, and I mean that literally — if despondency had a taste, it would taste like cold beet soup. I don’t harbor any animosity towards people who inflict Borscht on those around them, I just wish that when Napoleon invaded Russia, he’d left some spices (and possibly an oven) lying around the place as a hint.

Pears — The funny thing about Pears is that they’re delicious — for the fifteen minutes in which they’re actually ripe. If you’re eating them outside that window, either you’ve got a swampy fructose deathgasm or you’re attempting to bite into a slightly more flavorful brick. Either way, I wouldn’t exactly call it a winning culinary experience.

Oysters — They’re phlegm on the half-shell, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Who the fuck cracked one of these open and thought “THAT LOOKS DELICIOUS”? I feel like they and the people who invented Hakarl and Haggis should travel through time and form a family band, performing hits like “The Devil Went Down to Iceland (And Was, Frankly, Kind of Impressed)” and “What Do You Do With a Snotty Oyster” and “Oh, Sweetbreads of Mine.” This might be the alcohol talking. I should probably stop here.

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