One of the upsides to skinning our food, cutting it up into several little bitty pieces, and then drowning it all in tasty condiments, is that it allows us to have dinner without considering that animal’s face. If every plate of burger and fries featured the head of a cow staring at you, with those big, sad, brown eyes burning a guilt-hole through you with every bite, there’d probably be a lot more vegans in the world.
However, some animals are so hideously deformed, so disturbing-looking, and so downright ugly, that many of us could eat one right in front of their own mother and not feel bad. And we often do, chowing down on the world’s ugliest creatures without a care in the world (though your grieving-animal-mother mileage may vary).
This anglerfish relative carries on the family name well, with an appearance that can be best described as “why?” Its slimy body is covered in spikes and bumps, its skin is basically the color of puke, and it sports a gigantic, gaping mouth with tons of razor sharp teeth: the entrance to Hell couldn’t be scarier.
Monkfish are so revolting-looking, in fact, that countries such as France used to ban them, due to people being too frightened by their appearance to continue shopping. The only way around it? Cut the head off, which basically leaves the tail and that’s it.
Luckily enough, the tail is just loaded with creamy goodness. Monkfish is fast becoming a popular dish in various cultures, and the tail is pretty much why. It’s extremely meaty and moist, as well as low in fat. Many have compared monkfish tail to lobster, citing similar texture and similar taste. Honestly, the only difference is the hostile alien world that the lobster arrived from is at least two solar systems away from the one the monkfish grew up in.
9. Orange Roughy
Deep-sea creatures have become a heavily-fished delicacy, mainly due to humans rapidly running out of tuna to gather and chew. So we’re now forced to eating these weird mutant versions of fish, such as the Roughy. Look at that picture and tell us that isn’t a regular fish that has been tortured by being skinned alive. It’s odd, really: we eat the flesh of these animals, but when the animal naturally looks like it’s nothing but a file of exposed flesh, we wince.
Get past the appearance though, and you’ll find one of the most sought-after fish meats around. Chefs just love, love, love the Orange Roughy. There’s a good chance you’ve come across a package or two when browsing your local grocery store; all you have to do is get past the part where Roughys, like most deep-sea creatures, are at least a hundred years old due to exceedingly slow reproduction cycles. Like a fine wine, ugly fish meat just gets better with age.
Regular pigs are cute in an odd way; warthogs are odd-looking in an awful way. With giant tusks sticking sideways out of its nose, disheveled and uneven hair that makes it look like Nick Nolte’s mug shot, along with scars and warts all over its body, the warthog is so ugly that it inspired an African myth explaining why God would make such a hideous beast. Pray that the warthog never learns to read, or their suicide rates will just skyrocket.
It’s odd that Africa is so hard on the poor beasts; that’s the continent that lvoes to eat them the most! Warthog is an appetizing meat that you will find grilling on many an African braai, which is very much a real word and not just an onomatopoeia describing the typical Arnold Schwarzenegger impression.
And if Africans ever get tired of eating warthog meat, then they can always chow down on their anuses. Because if you’re going to eat a dirty, unwashed asshole, might as well make it Bebop’s? This really makes us think twice about going on safari. EVER.
Ever hear the stories of people eating a raw slug and becoming immensely sick, sometimes dying? That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for chowing down on these slimy, limbless little garden pests. But when they’re actually cooked? Yum, yum, gimme some!
Once you get past the disgusting psychology of eating a slug, it actually makes a lot of sense. Many of us eat escargot without any hesitation, right? They’re on fancy menus and everything. Well, escargot is little more than a snail, which is little more than a slug with a shell. Just remember to clean it, then clean it again, then cook it, then cook it again. Finally, for safe measure, take the building containing the kitchen you’re using to cook the slugs, and set it on fire. Don’t want a brain disease, right?
6. Turkey Vulture
There is nothing about a vulture that could be considered cute, not even on a “so-ugly-it’s-cute” scale. What could? The wrinkled bald head? The creepy-looking plumage that resembles the trench-coat of an evil Russian henchman? The steady diet of freshly rotted carcasses? The fact that it tastes very much like chicken? OK, the last point doesn’t make it “cute”, but it sure does make dealing with these things a tad easier.
Problem here is, the vulture is so reviled that, in many cultures, eating one is still considered taboo. More than a few otherwise-educated people believe that vultures are cursed, and possibly poisonous, because they eat uncooked dead animals. Because that’s exactly how one describes, say, a friendly neighbor who likes their steak rare. Deadly poison.
So when some swindler shows up, sells the local villagers “roasted chicken”, only to have his ingredients expose themselves as vulture, everybody gets up in arms. Sorry guys and dolls, but you willingly ate the meat, found it ummy-nummy, and you haven’t grown a third arm or started vomiting goat’s blood yet, right? See, you’re fine; no curse, and vulture is surprisingly tasty. Now please stop beheading your local swindlers; they’re merely trying to expand your palate.
Even when not “laughing” with wide-open jowls that make it very clear it is NOT feeling jovial at all, the hyena just looks messed-up. You know those bodybuilders so jacked-up on ‘roids that they don’t appear to have a neck anymore? That’s the hyena. And, to make matters worse, their fur is often matted, thin, and just plain drab as far as patterns go.
But do they taste good with ketchup? The answer is, naturally, yes. That neck is quite meaty, after all, and a little salt will do wonders on just about anything. Evidence has been uncovered, as of late, that suggest hyenas were regularly kept as pets, fattened up, and eaten by our cavemen ancestors. So if you’re into that meat-only Caveman Diet thing, best go catch yourself a hyena if you wanna be just like Great-Uncle Oog!
Hyena is a much rarer delicacy today, however. Our ancestors were much stronger and fiercer than we, so catching and domesticating a vicious hyena was just another day on the job. Today? We’re smaller, softer, and bound by anti-poaching laws out the wazoo. Oh, and hyenas hate us, making them just that much harder to catch. Vultures and warthogs don’t pose much of a threat, but a hyena will attack and eat you if given a semi-decent reason to do so. That semi-decent reason? You, too, are ugly and shockingly delicious.
Alright, grow up. Yes, we’re aware of what that thing looks like, but we’re also aware that the Geoduck (pronounced Gooey Duck because nobody knows how to pronounce Native American languages anymore) is just a giant clam with an even bigger body. It is not a duck, it is not an elephant’s trunk, and it certainly isn’t what YOU thought it was. The nerve! Your mother would be so ashamed.
What it is though, is tasty as Hell. Countless recipes exist to make these creepy crawlers delectable, and it is hugely revered in China as both a delicacy and an aphrodisiac. The latter makes sense, by the way, until you realize it doesn’t. Yes, they look like man-parts, but honestly? They kinda look like diseased man-parts. You would have to get a woman extremely drunk, on top of them being extremely stupid while sober, to come near a guy sporting something that looks like that.
Don’t let that smile fool you; this thing is spooky as Hell. You see how ghost-white it is, making its skin practically see-through? Well, that’s because Axolotls have evolved (??!) a feature that allows it to retain its larval features throughout its entire life. In short, that’s a giant fetus. Dig in!
Well, apparently many do. Mexicans love this thing roasted up and seasoned, so much so that the Axolotl is considered critically endangered. It doesn’t help that they’re only found in one damn place. The river complex Xochimilco, besides sporting a name so goofy that copying and pasting it was the only way to ensure we spelled it right, is literally the only place on Earth to go if you want to feast on Giant Eternally Unborn Salamander Ghost soup. Don’t forget the oyster crackers!
Never has the term “rats with wings” been more apropos than when discussing bats. Their leathery wings, shrill screeches, gargantuan ears, and total inability to stand still so you can hit them with a broom after they randomly fly into your house for no good reason all contribute to their reputation as being ugly and feared. There’s a very good reason Bruce Wayne decides to dress like one when it’s time to scare the crap out of the local thugs, and it’s not because his Hello-Kitty Man suit is at the dry cleaners that day.
And not only are they delicious, you apparently don’t need to eat many of them to fill up. The meat is reportedly very fatty, so one or two of the little guys should more than take care of the average belly. But if you are one of those people who just like to gorge themselves at dinnertime, the Flying Fox Bat is available. It’s the biggest bat in the world, with a wingspan of over five feet, and filled with meaty goodness…as long as you can get around that whole “endangered” thing that probably makes eating one illegal. Governments are such spoil-sports.
1. Sea Lamprey
The lamprey almost didn’t make the list because, well, look at it. That thing cannot actually be alive, right? It’s a damned tube with teeth, and a parasitic one to boot. It latches on to fish, borrows a hole in their skin, and sucks them dry. That’s not an animal, that’s Dracula!
Yet not only are they eaten, they’re very regularly eaten, in many different ways, and have been eaten for a long, long time. For literally a thousand years, man has been chopping up lampreys and turning them into pie. Yes, like apple pie, only with parasitic sucking tube-demons in place of harmless fruit.
If pie’s not your thing, then perhaps you can try some one of the many other ways lampreys become our meal, such as stew. Lamprey stew is incredibly popular in countries like Portugal, where they prefer to boil the creature in blood and serve it with rice. The blood, by the way, is its own. Lovely; perhaps, just in case the lamprey can understand the concept of humiliation, the Portuguese want it to feel as worthless and pathetic as possible before ultimately succumbing to our digestive tracts.
Jason Iannone is an editor and writer here at TopTenz, as well as a pretty damn good cook. Perhaps his Thanksgiving table this year will feature surf (monkfish) and turf (warthog), with some Flying Fox Bat soup on the side. Wanna reserve a table? Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or re-blog him on Tumblr, and he just might save you the big piece of vulture for your plate.