We know you like your food fresh but there is such a thing as too fresh! While most people balk at the idea of eating lobster because it’s cooked alive moments before it’s served, some people actually prefer their dinner to be alive and trying to escape from their mouths between bites.
Eating live food is considered a real delicacy in some parts of the world. Live-food connoisseurs actually believe the meat tastes better if the animal is still alive, partly alive, or taking its final breaths before you eat it. And it doesn’t come cheap either: depending on the dish, and how difficult it is to subdue and prepare your entrée before it’s served, restaurants around the world tend to charge you top dollar to sample these living treats.
Eating live animals is not new for us. Many cultures eat live insects as a staple source of protein in their diets. In fact, scientist believe as the world’s population approaches 8 billion people, we’ll likely be eating insects a lot more to meet our growing food needs.
Throughout history humans have eaten dishes containing living animals in Medieval England chefs were constantly trying to outdo each other with the kinds of live animals they could bake into dishes.
These days many countries ban these dishes for ethical reasons — it’s considered animal cruelty or torture to have a chopped-up, but still breathing animal on your plate. Other countries are more relaxed with what’s considered ‘animal cruelty’, particularly Southeast Asia where many of these dishes are seafood related.
In Japan you can eat a fish dish that’s chopped into pieces and arranged on your plate while the fish is still alive and breathing. China does its own version of the dish called yin yang fish where the body of the fish is flash-fried and is served alive and with the head still gasping for air. In Denmark you can still eat live insects, but this time they’re flavored and used in a salad.
Some dishes are only for the truly brave, others just require you to suspend your inner cringe-response to eating a living, moving meal. Read on to see what kinds of animals are eaten alive around the world.
Serusha Govender is The Daily Meal’s Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SerushaGovender