Disgusting Food Museum: Smoothies blended with Peruvian frogs. Ant-infused gin. Beer brewed using smoked whale testicles (don’t forget to add dung!). These boozy beverages aren’t so much thirst quenchers as vomit inducers!
It may sound like a Roald Dahl story but they certainly exist. And where better to host a celebration of terrible tipples than the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden?
Earlier this month they began a 3 month exhibition introducing visitors to the planet’s pottiest tipples. The word “potty” is appropriate by the way – one of the drinks contains … wait for it… children’s faeces.
What drove director Andreas Ahrens to throw a spotlight on this world of appalling alcohol? “People are very desperate to get drunk around the world,” he tells Associated Press. “So whenever we find ourselves in a situation where there is no alcohol, we get quite inventive and we’ve been doing this for millennia.”
Inventive is one thing. Putting someone in hospital is quite another! Huffington Post highlights a chapter of truly horrible history from the Soviet Union. Drinkers resorted to necking beauty products like nail varnish “when the government closed alcohol stores to reduce drunkenness.” Tragically people died.
No wonder the Disgusting Food Museum has a policy of look but don’t drink. The nearest they come to that situation is with their food displays – the Museum website invites patrons to “taste sweets made with metal cleansing chemicals”.
It’s a safe bet the confectionary won’t tantalize the taste buds. But those looking for a palette cleanser will be out of luck… unless the idea of a 55% proof beer from Scotland served in a hollowed out taxidermy squirrel floats someone’s boat!
When someone loses their lunch at the Disgusting Food Museum, it’s almost a badge of honor. A blackboard not only chalks up the number of evacuations – its “recorded a total of 98 vomits to date” according to The Drinks Business – but counts the days since someone last got sick!
Visitors with strong constitutions have other drink-based delights to think about. If they didn’t know that booze can be fermented in spit, then they certainly do at the end of the tour.
Chica de muko is a Peruvian beer made with corn meal and saliva. Other offbeat fermenting areas revealed by the exhibition are a prison toilet. Whoever came up with that idea deserves a long stretch.
While Ahrens himself is happy to sample the exhibits warts and all (warts don’t appear to be among the various ingredients thankfully), he stops short at Ttongsul, or “poo wine”.
In an e-mail to Live Science the brave gourmet says: “It’s just messing with my head.” Dating back to ancient Korea, the pungent rice-based liquid is what Huffington Post describes as a “traditional medicine to help broken bones and bruises”.
The Museum decided to break open the cocktail shakers for the event, contributing 4 beverages themselves. The most disagreeable element for the rice wine came from Ahrens’ own household.
“This exhibit is a deep dive into why we drink and how we started our strange relationship with spirits” he explains to Live Science. It’s the perfect way to continue the Museum’s mission. The place has been open for 2 years and doesn’t seem to have run out of stomach-churning material just yet.
“Disgust is one of the six fundamental human emotions” the website writes. Ahrens and team want people “to explore the world of food and challenge their notions of what is and what isn’t edible.” Most may make that call rather rapidly!
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Ultimately is there a higher purpose? The question is posed: “Could changing our ideas of disgust help us embrace the environmentally sustainable foods of the future?” They offer food for thought, even if that food isn’t likely to appear on a menu anytime soon…