The Weirdest Food Names Out There

August 12, 2019

There are a lot of weird foods out there — foods we’d never, ever eat even if we were offered money to chow down on them. What the French think of as a delectable treat — hello, snails in a sizzling garlic sauce (aka escargot) — may very well be another culture’s nightmare.

But what happens when a potentially-delicious food is given an awful name?

From blood pudding to spotted dick, there’s a chance the names themselves would keep even the most adventurous foodies at bay. For one, most of us aren’t keen on eating blood, while anything “spotted” seems downright dangerous. You know, in the medical sense.

Spam? Bangers and mash? We’ll pass. I mean, what is going on here? Why not just use words like “sausage” or “mystery meat”? Well, because it just wouldn’t be as fun — that’s why. So, let’s take a look at some of the weirdest food names out there — some of which are accompanied by even weirder ingredients.

1. Spam

AKA, America’s favorite mystery meat in a can.

This food will probably go down in history as both the most ubiquitous and the grossest. Known lovingly but not entirely inaccurately as a “mystery meat,” Spam is actually made from pork, potato starch, sugar, water, salt, and sodium nitrate. But really, who knows?

And where does its name even come from?

They say its name comes from “Shoulder of Pork and Ham” or “SPiced hAM.” Clever. Even Spam itself started calling its name an abbreviation — in 2019, Spam began making advertisements containing the definition “Sizzle Pork And Mmmm.”

2. Coddled Eggs

Does this mean we cuddle with them?

Coddled eggs are actually eggs that are lightly steamed or baked in a “hot water bath,” so that the white part of the eggs are slightly cooked. They’re called “coddled eggs” because an egg coddler is a “porcelain or pottery cup with a lid” that is used to prepare the dish.

3. Bubble & Squeak

Bubble and WHAT? Does this food squeak?

Before you start to wonder if this food includes a living, possibly squeaking animal — no, thank you — this U.K.-based dish actually just contains fried leftover veggies, and it’s beloved by Brits all over. According to Spruce Eats, the origins of the name are not known, but many believe that the name comes from the fact that food bubbles up and squeaks while over the fire.

4. The Imam Fainted

What is “the imam fainted” even made from?

Now, this name is even weirder than “Bubble and Squeak” or “Spam,” we think. Without even the remotest indication of what could possibly be in this dish, this name (also known as “the priest wept“) throws us for a loop. It’s actually a dish from Ottoman cuisine, and is generally made from whole eggplant, garlic, and tomatoes. According to legend, it is so yummy that it makes imams (a person who leads prayers in a mosque) faint.

5. Century Eggs

These eggs are over 100 years old.

Just kidding. This isn’t wine we’re talking about. There’s no way you’ll be eating a 100-year-old egg. But when you eat a century egg, you will be eating an older egg — as in, it’s a rotten, black egg. Yep, the century egg recipe calls for eggs being preserved in clay and ash for a few months. When it’s ready, it’s savory comfort food. Yeah, a comfort food.

6. Bangers And Mash

It’s not a mixtape.

This English food (are you catching onto the pattern yet? The English have a fondness for weird names) is basically a dish of finger sausages alongside a pile of mashed potatoes drizzled with gravy. It’s a dish you’ll find anywhere in the U.K., including fancy restaurants and pubs — and it’s super delicious.

7. Witchetty Grub

Hint: It’s not food for witches.

This Aussie food comes from the Indigenous Australians — and it’s the larva of a moth — a moth that feeds on the Witchetty bush. It’s a super protein-packed treat that can be eaten raw or cooked. It takes on a sort of almond-y or chicken taste, depending on how it is eaten. The name comes from “witjuri,” given by the Adnyamathanha people of Australia.

Blood clots? Cooties? What?

Another win for the English, the clootie actually refers to a “piece of cloth or leather.” You can think of it as a strip of fabric which holds within it a “dumpling,” which is actually a dessert pudding made of sweet stuff, like dough, dried fruits, and sugar. Based on the name alone, we’d have never guessed. 

It’s food, not a medical condition.

This one is also known by other bizarre monikers, such as “spotted dog” or “railway cake,” and it’s a pudding from Britain. FYI: A pudding in the U.K. is not pudding as we know it in America (for the British, a pudding would be a custard). A pudding is either sweet or savory and it, like the clootie dumpling, is often made in cloth. Sort of like a cake. The spotted dick is made with suet (animal fat) and dried fruit, and people tend to either love or hate it.

10. Sweetbreads

It’s not a piece of bread and it’s also not sweet.

Sweetbreads (also sometimes known as offal) come from animal meat. The actual ingredient uses the thymus or pancreas of the animal. According to The Kitchn, many sweetbreads come from “veal, ris de veau; or lamb, ris d’agneau, although beef and pork sweetbreads are also available.” Note for the extra confused: If you would still like to order bread that is sweet, that’d be a “sweet bread” and not a “sweetbread.”

It’s a rabbit dish from Wales, right? Nope.

This one is actually — surprise! — vegetarian, just because whoever names foods has to be, for some reason, incredibly clever and confusing. See also: Sweetbread. This dish contains no rabbits; rather, it is simply melted cheese over toast or crackers. The English have a fancier version with actual rabbits.

According to the Culture Trip, today it’s referred to as Welsh Rarebit — probably to stop people from asking about whether the dish contains actual rabbits.

12. Rocky Mountain Oysters

Which aren’t oysters or even seafood.

We’re noticing a trend in food names, namely that they’re purposefully named something that is entirely inaccurate. These are actually the testicles of animals, like goats or sheep or calves from the Rockies. So, how did this dish come to be?

According to HuffPost, “At the end of a day of castrating, big ranches can end up with over a hundred testicles. In the spirit of not wasting, the ranchers made use of them by cooking and eating them. It just made economic sense.”

It’s very romantic.

This lovely little dessert is so simple: Ladyfingers are sponged, dry cakes in the shape of a “finger.” In a John Keats poem, he wrote: “Fetch me that Ottoman, and prithee keep / Your voice low,” said the Emperor, “and steep /Some lady’s fingers nice in Candy wine.” Essentially, they’re dippable, finger-shaped cookies that are so delicate that even Keats had to write about them.