Bag in hand then, visitors venture off on a world tour of specialities, some of which may seem to a Western palate like ingredients in a witch’s brew but are considered delicacies.
“The Disgusting Food Museum exists to let people explore the world of food and to see both their own food and (other food) from the lens of another culture,” says Ahrens.
Its founder “began by thinking of other museums that don’t exist that he would like to visit, and that led to the Disgusting Food Museum,” he adds cheerfully.
Cheese and fermented shark
“I think it is by far one of the most interesting museums I’ve been to,” says Charlie Lam, a 23-year-old Hong Kong student.
Touring the exhibit with friends, she inspects the 80 dishes on display, cautiously sniffing some, and, when curiosity gets the better of her, tasting a few.
She says she’ll never forget the Su Callu, an ineffable Sardinian cheese served in dried tripe with a lingering aftertaste of ammonia, or the Icelandic delicacy of fermented shark, known as hakarl.
And she finds salty licorice, a hugely popular candy in the Nordic countries, and stinky British and French cheeses as off-putting as some of the non-Western foods are to European tastes.
Many of the dishes are freshly prepared and visitors are encouraged to poke and prod some of them, and of course have a taste — museum staff make sure nobody leaves without trying at least one item.