Why Is This Disgusting?


I have never eaten dog meat or snake blood.  I have never munched a maggot or nibbled a newt.  I have always wanted to be that guy who can eat anything.  I watch some dude on Fear Factor eat a raw pig uterus and I am filled with a sense of admiration.  However, I am not that guy!  As much as I want to be fearless and open minded about what I eat, I find myself repulsed by foods I have never  even bothered to try.  Maybe they would be delicious.  Maybe they would be nutritious.  Sadly, I may never know.  When I was in Cambodia a few years back, I remember seeing huge displays of fried spiders.  The Cambodians snatched them up by the bag full, but I couldn’t bring myself to even try a nibble.

Being the nerd that I am, I wanted to know why I feel this way about certain foods.  So I Googled my way down a rabbit hole and emerged a couple hours later with some fascinating insight.  Paul Rozin has spent over three decades researching disgust as a human emotion.  He has several articles on the web and books in the stores that detail the evolution of disgust.  My advice is don’t start reading unless you have some spare time.

Some things that caught my attention were that in American culture, we almost never consider eating invertebrates.  We are repulsed by reptiles, avoid amphibians, and limit ourselves to only a few birds and mammals.  Further almost every food we find disgusting is of animal origin.  To test this theory I looked up some sites claiming to have the 10 most disgusting foods and indeed I found not a single listing that was not an animal product.  Soft-boiled fetal duck, whole sheep’s head, live octopus, jellied moose nose, bat paste, and others topped the list.  How interesting that not a single vegetable or fruit made the top 10.

Maybe I should consider becoming a vegetarian!  What is the most disgusting thing you have eaten?

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    • Adam Goucher
    • March 13th, 2010

    Dude, thanks for ruining my breakfast!

    • That is why I am here!

    • Flordeliza Pesigan
    • March 13th, 2010

    Soft boiled fetal duck,..wow it sounds harsh. When I was small, they used to force me to eat one when ill because it’s a great energy booster and it really works. There are also street vendors every night who sell these soft boiled fetal ducks called – “Balot”..again, as energy boosters.

    • Is that why you have so much energy now? I could use some more energy but I am not eating a soft boiled fetal duck!

    • Scott
    • March 14th, 2010

    Fish bladder, over-sized flying cockroaches in a roasted chili paste; nam prik mang daw, all the awful from goiy jap; heart lung, stomach lining, small and large intestine. Boiled fish eyes, and congealed blood; much like jello. Just to name a few of the interesting foods I have come to not like here in Thailand.

    • Hmmmm……Blood Jello! Yum……..

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