8 Forbidden Delicacies

If “9 Foods You’re Not Allowed To Buy” just left you hungry for more, Newsweek has compiled their list of 8 forbidden delicacies. “Forbidden” in this case, means that the dishes may be restricted or socially unacceptable. While a few overlap from the other list there are some new tasty morsels here to challenge your palette. Maggot-cheese, anyone? The list, inside…

8. Foie Gras
To produce foie gras, ducks and geese are force fed up to 4 pounds of food a day. While Chicago has lifted its ban on the little livers, California will enact a ban on foie gras beginning 2012 because of animal cruelty concerns.

7. Lobsters
Whole Foods and some other supermarket chains stopped selling live lobsters in 2006 because PETA and other animal rights groups have said that lobsters may not be treated humanely in transport. Many believe lobsters feel pain. For example in Reggio, Italy it is illegal to boil lobsters alive.

6. Haggis
Consisting mostly of sheep lung, liver and heart then minced with onions and boiled in the animal’s stomach, the U.S. banned imported haggis in 1989 over concerns that it could carry mad cow disease.

5. Sassafras
Sassafras bark contains an oil called safrole which the FDA banned in 1960 because of its link to cancer in rats. Nowadays a safer product is produced that is free of safrole and still delivers the sassafras flavor.

4. Absinthe
The green liqueur popularized in France in the 1850’s was banned in the U.S. in 1912 for its “harmful neurological effects.” Currently, Absinthe can be legally imported at reduced thujone levels. Thujone is the psychoactive ingredient in absinthe.

3. Raw Milk Cheese
The FDA has banned the transport unpasteurized milk across state lines. Unpasteurized cheese can only be sold if it’s been chilled to 35F and aged for 60 days.

2. Puffer Fish
While “fugu” is a dish that is very popular in Japan and Korea, the eyes and internal organs of this fish are highly toxic. Chefs are specially trained to prepare fugu as not to poison the customers. The critters contain saxitoxin and tetrodotoxin, a nerve toxin for which there is no antidote. The dish can be found at top Japanese restaurants in several American cities however harvesting puffer fish is illegal in Florida.

1. Casu Marzu Maggot Cheese
This is a runny white cheese made by injecting Pecornio Sardo cheese with cheese-eating larvae. (Who thinks of this?) Eaters of the cheese risk intestinal larval infection and some other health hazards. The cheese cannot be sold legally in Italy although there are a few cities and towns where it can be found. The U.S. has no laws against this cheese, maybe because nobody here wants to eat it.

Eight Forbidden Delicacies [Newsweek]
(Photo: Newsweek)


Edit Your Comment

  1. What about jamón serrano (or ibérico) or cured prosciutto? If I could legalize one awesome food, it would definitely be pork-related.

  2. B says:

    Poison, Poison, Tasty fish. Hard to believe, but the Simpons episode where Homer ate Fugu came out 20 years ago.

  3. Do lobsters feel pain even if you drop them headfirst into boiling water? I would think that would be an instantaneous death, given the size of their brains.

  4. NotATool says:


  5. apotheosis says:


  6. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    I enjoyed Absinthe when I lived in London, or at least I think I did, I was too busy freaking out…


    I was just about to reference that episode…

  7. BrewMe says:

    @Ash78: It is not forbidden, just expensive:
    Also, I find prosciutto at my local Randals.

  8. Pasketti says:

    Every time I learn about some really disgusting food, the same image comes to mind:

    Person 1: We’re all out of food. We haven’t had anything to eat for days.

    Person 2: Well, there is that cheese that all full of maggots…

    Person 1: Ew. But I’m hungry… (chomp chomp)

    Person 2: How is it?

    Person 1: Shut up and eat.

    — weeks later —

    Person 3: Hey, how did you guys survive?

    Person 1: We ate the maggot cheese.

    Person 3: Eww!

    Person 2: No, no, it’s really good! Yeah, that’s it! It’s delicious! Really! Not disgusting at all! No! Not at all! Here, try some…

    And a new culinary tradition is born.

    For “maggot cheese”, substitute “cod that got lye spilled on it” (lutefisk), “that dead shark that washed up on the beach two months ago that we buried” (hakarl), etc.

  9. johnva says:

    @Ash78: I’m pretty sure those are legal, but not widely available.

    This article should definitely mention horse. Perfectly acceptable food in many places that makes people in the U.S. squeamish for some reason.

  10. B says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: It’s okay to eat fish, because they don’t have any feelings.

  11. Thanks for the heads-up on the hams. This is apparently news!

    The first jamóns ibéricos were released for sale in the United States in December, 2007, with the bellota hams due to follow in July 2008

  12. Lobsters: Isn’t killing and butchering any animal “cruel” and “painful”. We can’t boil a lobster or force feed a goose, but we can bow hunt dear and allow it to slowly bleed out? I for one, have no issue killing and eating any animal that isn’t smart enough to get out of the way.

  13. Kos says:

    How about some tasty Hákarl? I.e., Rotten shark head from Iceland? See [en.wikipedia.org]

    Frankly, I don’t eat anything that the seagulls wouldn’t touch.

    “Hákarl is prepared by gutting and beheading a Greenland or Basking shark and placing it in a shallow hole dug in gravelly-sand, with the now-cleaned cavity resting on a slight hill. The shark is then covered with sand and gravel, and stones are then placed on top of the sand in order to press the shark. The fluids from the shark are in this way pressed out of the body. The shark ferments for 6-12 weeks depending on the season in this fashion.

    Following this curing period, the shark is then cut into strips and hung to dry for several months. During this drying period a brown crust will develop, which is removed prior to cutting the shark into small pieces and serving. The modern method is just to press the shark’s meat in a large drained plastic container.”

  14. Nelsormensch says:

    The claims that lobsters can “feel pain” are absurd. Functionally, they’re big aquatic bugs. Can their nervous system perceive that boiling water is a hostile environment? Sure. But it’s just another stimulus that evokes a response, like hunger or presence of a mate

    The idea that they can feel pain and suffer in a human (or even mammalian) sense is unfounded anthropomorphization and nothing more.

  15. cloudedice says:

    A lot of research has been done on Absinthe recently. In actuality, well made Absinthe using authentic, traditional recipes have very low thujone levels. Additionally, the high alcohol content limits the amount of thujone that one can ingest.

    I also remember reading an article describing how thujone really doesn’t have much affect on the human body, even at higher levels. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article right now to back that up.


  16. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I got back from a business trip to Scotland not long ago and I can assure you that haggis is tasty, if a bit greasy, but it’s basically a loose sausage. You can obtain it in the US; it’s made and canned by a firm in Texas. The closest American equivalent, as I found out last week in Lafayette, Louisiana, is “boudin balls.”

    The foie gras geese don’t suffer. The goose raisers are not sadists. They use a device with a tube, and it doesn’t hurt the bird. The greedy wretches are more than happy to have a belly so full they practically have to drag it around.

  17. cloudedice says:

    Another article on absinthe/thujone for your enjoyment.


  18. kylenalepa says:

    I’ve eaten fugu. It’s OK, but it doesn’t really have much of a taste, IMHO.

  19. nutrigm says:

    I shall become a hippy veggie. Peace!

  20. @Nelsormensch: Can you put the lobster in water and then heat it up?

  21. @kylenalepa: It tastes like burning.

  22. forgottenpassword says:

    so my raw, live monkey brain is still legal?

  23. Amy Alkon000 says:

    California will enact a ban on foie gras beginning 2012 because of animal cruelty concerns.

    No, because of stupid people who anthropomorphize the geese. No, you wouldn’t want a tube put down your throat and then feed poured down it. The geese don’t seem to mind. My friend, Andrew Gumbel, has written about this for The Independent, and there’s a quote, too, from a foie gras farmer in New Zealand here: [www.advicegoddess.com]

    Furthermore, if you know anything about the farms where birds are raised for foie gras…the animals we all eat without thinking (factory farmed chickens, for example) would be lucky to be raised in such a way.

    If you don’t want to eat foie gras, don’t eat it. Don’t stop me from eating it.

  24. johnva says:

    @Amy Alkon: I think the foie gras bans are purely a case of excellent propaganda by the animal rights activists. It’s stupid, and makes no sense, but most people don’t know or care much about the issue beyond just maybe having heard that the geese are “force fed”. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, and it’s delicious. Like you said, if foie gras production is wrong then a whole host of other agricultural practices are also “cruel”.

  25. SpaceCat85 says:

    I was very surprised at Sassafras being listed as a substance banned by law in the US. It grows wild in the northeast and has distinctive leaves, so it wouldn’t exactly be hard to DIY if people really wanted it.

    I even remember my Girl Scout troop leader explaining its historic and modern uses (including rootbeer flavoring) when we were on a nature walk…in the 1990s.

  26. choinski says:

    What about Ortelan(sp?). A tiny, endangered bird is captured live. It is held captive with its eyes poked out so it never can tell night from day and just eats contantly. It is drowned alive in cognac and served whole (innards and all). It is considered the pinnacle of French cooking and completely illegal. You eat it with a sheet over your head – partly because it is so cruel you hide your face from God. The bird is so small you pop the whole thing in your mouth. The fist chew is meat, the next is organs, and the final bone. (part of the flavor is human blood and the bone cuts the gums).

  27. choinski says:

    Found the link…


  28. apotheosis says:

    @cloudedice: Clearly you missed the classic Savage Steve Holland/John Cusack vehicle One Crazy Summer, in which it was scientifically established that lobsters dropped slowly into a boiling pot do, in fact, scream for mercy.

  29. timmus says:

    Ok, [en.wikipedia.org] . Damn, when humans poke a live animal’s eyes out and call the results a gastronomic delight, it’s really just a return to Neanderthal days.

    And on another note, why are the damn edit boxes on Consumerist now like 1 inch wide???

  30. MonkeyMonk says:

    I had no idea that haggis importation was banned. I was in Scotland last year and had haggis served about three different ways (once even in a fairly upscale restaurant) and it was delicious. I’m surprised that it’s not easier to find on at least a few restaurant menus here in the U.S.

    I need to see if there’s a good Scottish bar here in the Chicago area that has a local food night. I wouldn’t mind a pint of draught Belhaven either. :)

  31. @choinski: That is one of the most disgusting things I have ever read.

  32. johnva says:

    @choinski: According to your link, they are not endangered, except maybe in France. They are protected by law, however. Kind of similar to how the American bald eagle is no longer an endangered species, but is still against the law to kill.

  33. zentex says:

    shame though…sassafras is yummy

  34. These days Sassafras probably remains on the no no list because one of the key components of ecstasy is derived from the oil. Easier to bust people for having it that way :D

  35. @choinski: Any dish that relies on the diner’s bleeding gums for flavor is seriously f’ed up.

  36. cloudedice says:

    @apotheosis: I believe you were speaking tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek, however, I made no mention of lobsters. Try responding to someone else. :-P

  37. apotheosis says:

    @cloudedice: whoops, meant to reference @Nelsormensch’s post. My bad.

  38. Geekybiker says:

    Who cares if lobsters feel pain? They are tasty!

  39. apotheosis says:

    @Geekybiker: Seriously, if passenger pigeons tasted that good with lemon and drawn butter, the damn things would be extinct.

  40. NotATool says:

    @Pasketti: LOL. I bet this is EXACTLY how new foods are found.

  41. Balisong says:

    @choinski: Holy Jesus Christ! That is horrifying in every way! “mmmm this bird is good, but if only I had mixed some of my own blood with it…I know, I’ll eat the bones too!”

    I’ve always wondered why lobsters are boiled alive…is it because people don’t want any small part of it crushed before eating? Can’t they drive a little stake through its head or something?

  42. Balisong says:

    @apotheosis: Passenger pigeons are extinct… Though if you were being sarcastic, don’t mind me.

  43. VikingP77 says:

    I can’t believe veal didn’t make the list. I for one would not even consider eating any of those things anyways…yuck!

  44. johnva says:

    @Balisong: They sometimes do cut lobsters’ head in half before cooking.

    @VikingP77: I’m not sure that veal is forbidden in very many places (except perhaps places that forbid killing cows in general). Veal is delicious, too.

    Some of the items on this list are delicious. Why wouldn’t you consider eating any of them?

  45. lincolnparadox says:

    I always thought that it was illegal to sell jamóns ibéricos outside of Spain, not that it was illegal to import due to US laws.

    Making hákarl nowadays has another purpose. The Icelanders ferment and dry the shark meat to extract detergents and PEG that accumulates in the meat. Originally, the fermentation was to remove the uric acid produced by the shark, but modern living has added new poisons to the shark’s meat.

    @timmus: It was probably the Cro Magnons that decided to eat living eyeballs, not the Neanderthals. Then again, protein is protein.

    @MonkeyMonk: There are a few places in the US that make haggis with domestic meats. And because I enjoy sharing the love:



  46. ShirtNinja says:

    @cloudedice: @cloudedice: thank you. I’m glad that there is at least one other person on this planet who can tell myth from fact

    @apotheosis: That is 100% untrue. While yes, there is a screaming noise, it does not issue from the lobster’s mouth, but from it’s shell, due to it cracking and steam being released. In that respect, it’s more of a whistle than a scream.

    I also cannot honestly believe that lobster is banned anywhere. It’s delicious. If you tried to ban lobster on the Canadian East Coast, they’d pro’lly hang, draw and quarter you.

  47. marsneedsrabbits says:


    A friend spend Christmas in Japan last year and had a fugu dinner. All parts of the meal have fugu, every course. He said it was… nothing special, not really all that tasty, and very expensive.

    I think I’ll pass. But somewhere there’s some chou doufu [paper.sznews.com] & balut with my name on it [www.deependdining.com] :)

  48. HeartBurnKid says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: They do, from what I understand.

    There are two humane ways to kill a lobster:

    1: Give them 15 minutes in the freezer, then remove from freezer and immediately drop them headfirst into boiling water. The freezer time renders them unconscious, then when they go in the water, they’re dead before they wake up.

    2: Split the head in half, between the eyes, with a large chef’s knife, then drop immediately into boiling water. The knife kills them instantly if done right, but you have to start cooking immediately in order to prevent the meat from putrefying.

  49. HeartBurnKid says:

    @Balisong: Mostly because most cooks (especially home cooks) are too squeamish to actually stab and kill their food. Tossing it into a pot is easier.

  50. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    @choinski: That is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard of.

  51. flipx says:

    Save a lobster club a fisherman rapers of the sea.

  52. firesign says:

    @flipx: i’d rather club peta members.

  53. inno says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: Yeah, I’m pretty sure the thing knows it’s dying. In boiling hot water.

    What’s funny is that Whole Foods stopped selling lobsters because they could not guarantee that they were handled humanely during transport. Umm the things are BOILED ALIVE, I think overcrowding (and almost every other thing) pales in comparison.

  54. mizmoose says:

    – geese are morons, about as brilliant as turkeys. Both are trying to beat out (bovine) cows for Idiot Animal of Forever

    – if you throw a live lobster into boiling water you might hear a “scream” — it’s the sound of steam rushing through the shells. Everybody whistle!

    & nobody’s brought up lutefisk? Gak.

    Also, the summer camp I went to had sassafras plants growing natively all over the place. We used to walk to classes chewing on the leaves. Never got stoned, unless we went past some hiding kids smoking pot…

  55. Imightnotbehere says:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned dog meat here yet. It is a delicacy, and tastes better than plain meats. I know, I will probably get yelled at by animal activists, but still, it is socially taboo (at least in the U.S.).

  56. ngoandy says:

    I had fugu in tokyo a year ago. The raw fugu reminded me of gummy worms (particularly the clear ones). It had that consistency and was similarly bland. It really didn’t have much flavor raw. I also had it deep fried. It was like a fried chicken wing in consistency and flavor.

    Absinthe can be purchased in the US. http://www.drinklucid.com
    The Wormwood Society is an excellent guide on all things Absinthe. wormwoodsociety.org

  57. ironchef says:

    The thing about Fugu is the numbing sensation when you eat it.

    There’s always a microscopic trace of toxin they can never washout…hence your lip or tongue gets that numbing sensation.

    Bon appetit suckas.

  58. Paul B says:

    A third way: place them in room temp tap water and they go to sleep, well, that’s what I tell the kids, I think you’re really drowning the little bastards. Then, steam them until red, split from head to tail and place on a medium temp charcoal grill, with alder or oak wood for about 15 minutes.

  59. VikingP77 says:

    @johnva: VEAL IS CRUEL! And I have to think you are joking to think any of those things are delicious!

  60. Weird about Sassafras; Filé (pulverized sassafras leaves) gumbo is made entirely from Sassafras leaves and is quite legal, I can assure you. It is also quite good when done correctly. Where I grew up, filé is a popular additive to regular chicken and sausage and seafood gumbos; the sassafras adds texture and flavor to the gumbo.

  61. shades_of_blue says:

    @ShirtNinja: I remember the first time I cooked crayfish and they made that sound, I found it rather amusing. Haven’t cooked a lobster yet, but I imagine it sounds the same.

    Speaking of which, IIRC Food Network was fined for broadcasting an old episode of Iron Chef which featured lobster marinated in wine barrels. PETA reps said something like ‘the animal was forced to become intoxicated, that’s animal cruelty.’

    Lame, but the thought of naturally marinated lobsters sounds pretty delicious. If I ever decide to boil my own, I might have to shove one of those ugly bastards into a micro brew tank… Then again, I could load 30 crayfish into an empty 5 gallon bucket and use a 1/4 keg to fill it. heheh

  62. TechnoDestructo says:


    Ever eat kimchi? Seagulls won’t touch that.

    I tried feeding it to them once, at a picnic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. I was tossing potato chips to a couple of seagulls. I thought to see if they’d eat kimchi (I mean they’ll eat just about anything else), and tossed a little piece to one. One bird sort of examined it then ignored it. Then I found a curved potato chip, stuffed it full of kimchi, and tossed it to the bird. It picked it up, choked it down and stood there looking kind of distressed. It started opening and closing its mouth and sticking its tongue out. Then it hopped over to a ditch and drank some water. Then it gagged some more, and flew away.


    Having come close to losing consciousness from hypothermia (which due to having a good coat and no hat, was mostly confined to my head), I can confirm that once the extremities go numb, it really isn’t all that bad…just that if you DON’T die from it, you’ll wish you had. (So make sure the water is good and hot, or that little bugger is gonna suffer worse than if you’d just tossed him into the boiling water while he was awake)

    Judging from some of the videos on youtube, I’m guessing the treatment of the birds must vary from farm to farm. Because some of them don’t look so eager.

  63. themediatrix says:

    @Amy Alkon: @johnva: So pay twenty cents more and eat pastured foie gras. There are a lot of people who eat animals who are grown on small farms that don’t treat animals badly. Factory farmed animals are not nutritious in comparison to naturally raised animals. And I’ve produced reports on the foie gras issue, and abused birds really aren’t worth eating.

  64. Not Alvis says:

    “Nowadays a safer product is produced that is free of safrole”

    And conveniently useless for making MDMA

  65. stinerman says:


    Please provide a link to your scientific study that purports to have proved this. Otherwise you’re just guessing…like the rest of us.

  66. metaled says:

    @firesign: i’d rather club peta members.

    What is it with PETA (or radical environmentalists), They would rather kill or maim a humanbeing, than see a stupid chicken hurt. Talk about nuts. Does anyone else think KFC sucks since they changed their original recipe? Go back to the original recipe with the heart un-healthy oil, we don’t eat fried chicken for our health!

    BTW, I always wanted to print up a PETA T-Shirt shirt and walk by a protest… PETA – People Eat Tasty Animals

  67. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @mizmoose: Lutefisk does not qualify because it is not food, but soap.

  68. battra92 says:

    Who cares if lobsters feel pain? We are humans and they are food.

  69. Edward Lionheart says:

    Many of us have a difficult time reconciling our love of meat with our desire to protect animals from cruelty–either while they are being raised or when they are slaughtered. It is not hypocrisy to oppose factory farming and mistreatment even if you will ultimately consume the creatures. Push for tougher laws (you don’t need to be at the PETA end of the spectrum) and buy organic and humanely raised meat. Do not buy veal unless it is free-range veal–but in that case it’s not milky white etc. so it’s not really the veal that most of us developed a taste for. As for lobsters, I have learned to kill them by splitting their heads open with a sharp knife. It is awful, but less painful than plunging them into boiling water. Slowly warming the water only prolongs the pain, by the way. I have yet to figure out how to eviscerate softshell crabs “humanely,” so I usually let the fishmonger do it out of my sight. I know what I have just written will please neither vegetarians nor the person who wrote, “Who cares if lobsters feel pain? We are human and they are food.” But it’s the best I can do at this moment.

  70. ukexpat says:

    So black pudding isn’t on the list? Excellent — one of my favourites.

  71. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Edward Lionheart: This vegetarian stands behind every word you said. For me, it’s not so much about whether or not to eat the meat… it’s about the fact that simple cleanliness, whether physical or moral, is not exercised in the animal processing industry today. I would eat meat I raised myself, but I’m not eating any meat butchered, processed, and stored out of my sight.

  72. rikkus256 says:

    I’m really sick and tired about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). In the morning they accuse others for abusing animals or eating dogs, then at night they have beef and pork for dinner. Their reason? Cows and pigs are “grown to be food”. You know dogs are actually grown to be food in asia too. I love animals and I don’t eat dogs. But I do believe if I am eating any animals then I have absolute no right to accuse others.

    And yeah sure, like those cows and pigs never feel any pain when they got killed.