Food can sometimes seem harmless, but there are dangers in it. The truth is, not everything can be eaten without certain precautions, such as careful selection, cooking, or preparation – like removing some inedible or poisonous parts.
Without these steps, certain foods can make the person who eats them very sick, with symptoms ranging from nausea to psychosis and even death. In poor condition, or poorly stored or cooked, they can cause symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, psychosis, and can even be fatal.
These are five foods that you should be especially careful about while eating them. In fact, if you are unsure about some of the aspects mentioned below, you might be better off avoiding them altogether.
1. Casu Marzu cheese
What sets this food apart is the surprise it contains inside – worms. It might not sound appetizing, but this cheese from Sardinia, Italy, has a lot of fans. Casu marzu is made by adding fly larvae to pecorino, a cheese similar in flavor and consistency to Parmesan. Over time, small worms soften the cheese so that when served, the center has an almost runny consistency.
It is often said to taste similar to gorgonzola. Casu marzu has a reasonably distinctive and robust taste, due in part to the larval droppings. To taste it, you have to take a few things into account.
First of all, while eating a portion, you must have quick reflexes to catch the worms – they can jump up to 15 cm in the air. Second, it is challenging to find. Casu marzu is not on the list of foods approved by the European Union and, therefore, cannot be exported. Third, casu marzu is often described as “the most dangerous cheese in the world” because it poses a health risk.
This is especially true if the worms are dead (unless they died because the cheese was refrigerated), as that means the cheese is no longer edible. Consuming it in poor conditions can lead to stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Rhubarb stalks are very popular, for example, in British cuisine. Many famous British desserts or drinks contain this ingredient in their recipes. But you have to be especially careful with rhubarb: because the green leaves that accompany the tasty stems contain poison.
More specifically, oxalic acid, which in large amounts causes nausea, reduces the absorption of minerals and can contribute to kidney stones. The actual dangerousness of rhubarb leaves is the subject of much debate due to their oxalic acid content. Oxalic acid is also present in the stems, but its amount is much more in the leaves. Although a considerable portion of the leaves would have to be eaten to die from them, it is best to avoid them.
3. Pufferfish is deadly
It contains tetrodotoxin, a poison that is feared for the speed and violence of its effects – it is considered even more deadly than cyanide. However, despite the risks, they are also exclusive delicacy in some countries.
In Japan, fugu (the name of the pre-cooked pufferfish) is often served raw or added to soups. Chefs receive extensive training for several years before they are allowed to prepare fish and serve it to customers. The important thing is to make sure that by the time the fugu reaches the plate, its toxic parts, including the brain, skin, eyes, ovaries, liver, and intestines, have been removed.
This famous spice comes from a tree native to Indonesia. It is a key product in the preparation of certain cookies and is a delicious addition to puddings. In addition to desserts, nutmeg is also used to season potatoes, meats, sauces, vegetables, and even some drinks.
However, if consumed in large amounts, it has horrible side effects: nausea, pain, shortness of breath, and even seizures – as well as psychotic symptoms. Nutmeg food poisoning rarely causes death, but it is not a pleasant experience.
So why would anyone choose to eat so many spices at once? Nutmeg has been used as a hallucinogen for centuries. Considering the side effects, it is undoubtedly not worth “going on an adventure” like this.
5. Red beans and soybeans
It is generally believed that beans and legumes are good for you, but there are certain types that, if not prepared properly, can make you sick. Red beans and velvety tasting soybeans fall into this category. On the positive side, they are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
On the negative side, raw beans contain a type of fat called phytohemagglutinin, which is difficult to spell and even harder to digest. If you try to do this, be prepared for stomach aches and vomiting. The good news is that by cooking beans properly, you can avoid this unpleasant combination.
Just like kidney beans, soy is high in protein and is believed to contain antioxidants as well. Unfortunately, they also come with a naturally occurring toxin, trypsin, an enzyme that can prevent you from digesting food properly. In both cases, they should be immersed in water for at least 12 hours before draining and rinsing them. Then you have to boil and simmer them.