Does this sound tasty: a pickled sheep’s eyeball floating in a glass of tomato juice? Such a beverage from Mongolia supposedly dates back 800 years. If this drink doesn’t sound appetizing to you, how about maggot-infested cheese from Italy, bat soup from Guam, or rotting shark meat from Iceland? You can see, smell, and sometimes taste these items and more at the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden.
The museum displays about 80 exotic foods from around the world, some of which visitors can sample. You need a strong stomach to explore the museum’s exhibits. At least once a week, someone vomits after tasting or even just looking at some of the foods, says Samuel West, the museum’s founder. No wonder the museum prints its tickets on vomit bags!
West, a psychologist, created the museum to explore the feeling of disgust. This emotion helps people avoid things that might be harmful or make them sick, like unsafe foods. But people’s disgust toward something can change if they’re exposed more often to the unfamiliar food. “The first time I tried durian—a fruit from Southeast Asia—I thought it smelled like a rotting dead animal,” says West. “But after working with it for several months, it doesn’t smell bad to me anymore.”
West hopes the museum will open people’s minds to trying different foods. “It’s all about familiarity,” says West. “If you’ve eaten pickled eyeballs your whole life, you won’t find it disgusting.”