The Smelliest Food in the World

By Sarah Bruning,

This food may technically be edible—delicious, even—but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to come close enough to taste any of it. We ranked the globe’s smelliest foods, from the mildly foul to downright revolting.


Stink-o-meter: 1 nose

Although natto bears a striking scent similarity to dirty, sweaty gym socks, these gooey fermented soybeans are so ubiquitous across Japan and eaten with so many different foodstuffs (rice, miso soup, sushi, noodles) that their off-putting aroma can be pretty easily dismissed. Plus, someone managed to whip up an odor-free version. Kind takes the fun out of it, right? (Photo: Soza Ijiten/Alamy)


Stink-o-meter: 2 noses

The Yoruba people of Nigeria ferment locust beans and deploy them as a seasoning for stews and soups. Tannins that develop during the process give the funky condiment an astringent aroma—to put it mildly.(Photo: Robert Harding/Alamy)


Stink-o-meter: 3 noses

If the scent of this semi-soft cow’s milk cheese from Western Europe reminds you of musky foot odor or toe jam, it might be because the same bacteria are responsible in both cases. We don’t advocate comparing tastes, but you might be pleasantly surprised to find that Limburger boasts a pleasantly earthy taste. (Photo: Bon Appetit/Alamy)

See Also: The Most Dangerous Foods in the World


Stink-o-meter: 4 noses

Whether you call it the hundred- or thousand-year-old egg doesn’t make a difference in the rancid factor of this preserved orb. To make it, a chicken, duck or quail ovum is encased in a paste of clay and salt (sometimes with the addition of lime, ash and tea water) before getting doused in rice hulls and packed away for three years. When they’re cracked back open, they’re blackish-green in color, somewhere between creamy and gelatinous in texture and exude an odor along the lines of feline urine. Yum? (Photo: Lou-Foto/Alamy)



Stink-o-meter: 5 noses

Speaking of animal waste! Served raw and rotten, this Korean delicacy (made from skate) reeks of ammonia. The reason? A buildup of uric acid in the fish flesh. (Photo: Image Republic Inc./Alamy)


Stink-o-meter: 6 noses

Forget sweet-smelling red gummy candies—these fermented Swedish fish herrings err on the side of rotten and putrid seafood. (Photo: Colouria Media/Alamy)

More: America’s Best Sandwiches


Stink-o-meter: 9 noses

Perhaps the most well-known item on our list, this fruit has earned a fair amount of ire for its unique combination of custardy texture and noxious decayed-onion perfume. People are so wary of catching a whiff that it’s completely banned in a number of countries across Southeast Asia. (Photo: Arco Images/Alamy)


Stink-o-meter: 10 noses

There’s only one food Andrew Zimmern, the globetrotting gastronome behind Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, can’t swallow—and it’s a version of this Southeast Asian delicacy. Fresh tofu bathes in a brine of fermented milk, meat, vegetables and, on occasion, seafood for such an extended period of time that maggots take hold (along with a putrid garbage odor). Bottom line: If the Grandmaster of Icky Edibles spits something out, the rest of us have no hope. (Photo: Boaz Rottem/Alamy)

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