If you read “head cheese” on a menu and had never heard of the dish before, would you try it? With a name like that, you might get the wrong idea. But the naming of this European delicacy isn’t totally deceptive.
It’s made, not with cheese, but rather by skinning the head of a sheep, pig, or cow to make a gelatinous meat dish. It does have a little something to do with cheese, however: the name comes from the word fromage, a Latin word for the process of molding and pressing cheese or other semi-soft substances that became synonymous with cheese itself. Forming various kinds of meat from a pig's head using a mold is called fromage de tête, meaning “pressed head,” but when English speakers first translated the name from French, they translated it as “head cheese” and the name stuck.
Despite how bizarre the name of a dish may seem, many of the dishes on this list are quite tasty.
The Italians named the pasta dish “code di topo” after mouse tails, because the pasta shapes looks a little too much like them. “Bubble and squeak” is an English dish of mainly fried potatoes and other vegetables, but in the eighteenth century, it was made of fried meat and cabbage. The dish is named for the sound the meat and cabbage made when fried together, bubbling and squeaking at the same time. Imam Bayildi — which translates to “The imam fainted” — is one of Turkey’s best-loved dishes, made of eggplant stuffed with onion, garlic, and tomatoes, and cooked in olive oil. There are several stories of how the name came to be, but the most common version says that a Muslim priest, or imam, fainted with pleasure upon tasting the dish.
We’re not sure why some of these dishes were named as they were, but we’re happy that in most cases, the names aren't literal.
Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
Otherwise known as shark fin soup, this Chinese delicacy is said to be named for its ability to tempt even vegetarian monks to come out of their temples and eat it.
The name says it all: this cheese is stinky. It gets its name from Stinking Bishop pears (named not for an odiferous clergyman but for a plant breeder named Bishop, who reportedly had a nasty temper); it is washed in perry (pear cider) made from this variety as it matures, lending it its foul odor.
Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter @haleywillrd.