Disgusting Christmas Foods

Every country has its own Christmas traditions. We listen to different Christmas music, have our own Christmas games – and of course traditional Christmas foods that are specific to our region. Here we have collected a few of the most disgusting Christmas foods from all over the world.

Christmas Eve Carp

Carp in a bathtub. Photo: vetweb.cz

Fresh food is always better, right? In Slovakia, Poland, and Czechia, living carps are bought before Christmas and kept in the bathtub for several days until it is eaten. It’s a symbol of good luck and a traditional meat-free meal in Central Europe. It probably started as a way to keep the fish fresh in the days before refrigeration.

It is claimed that keeping the fish in the bathtub also helps remove mud from the digestive tract of the carp, but experts claim that it would take much longer.

The temporary pet is later killed, cleaned and soaked in milk before breading and frying it, often served with cabbage or fish soup. The scales are often kept in the wallet of family members after Christmas for good luck. Some Jewish families also keep fish in bathtubs and use them for making gefilte fish for Passover and Rosh Hashanah. It is not that common anymore but was featured in the 1972 children’s book “The Carp in the Bathtub”.


A freshly disemboweled seal is stuffed with up to 500 small arctic birds. It is then sewn shut and sealed with seal fat to prevent flies from getting in. The birds are buried and left to ferment in the carcass for 3 to 18 months. Kiviak is eaten by biting off the bird’s head and then sucking out the juices inside, but the birds can also be eaten whole, bones and all. It is especially popular during the arctic winter celebrations, especially during Christmas.

Another popular Greenland Christmas delicacy is Mattak, whale skin with a bit of blubber inside. People say it tastes like coconut, but the skin is very tough to chew and most people just swallow it whole. It was originally is served raw, now it’s more commonly consumed breaded, deep-fried or pickled.


Lutefisk (Norway) or Lutfisk (Sweden) is made from aged stockfish or dried and salted whitefish, and lye. It’s gelatinous, smelly and pretty nasty tasting, though the enthusiasts love it. The name translates to “lye fish”.

The stockfish is soaked in cold water for five or six days, with daily water changes. Then it’s moved to a mix of cold water and lye for another two days, swelling the fish, reducing the protein content by 50%, and making the consistency jelly-like.

Lutfisk, by Erik Forsberg on Flickr

After this process is done, the lye saturated fish is caustic and unedible. Finally, it’s soaked in cold water again for up to six days to render it (more or less) suitable for human consumption. When cooking and eating lutefisk, the fish and all residue must immediately be removed from plates, cutlery and frying pans. If left dirty, the fish will be impossible to remove. Sterling silverware will be permanently corroded if it comes into contact with lutefisk, so stainless steel is required.


Perhaps the tastiest disgusting Christmas food on this list is Lechon from the Philippines. Pigs are butchered and then the hair is removed by singing or scalding it. The belly is opened and intestines removed, its place taken by herbs and seasoning. The skin is rubbed with coconut water, milk, or soy sauce before letting the pig roast over coal on a spit for up to five hours. The resulting delicacy was called the “Best pig ever” by Anthony Bourdain.

The Philippines loves Christmas and is home to the longest Christmas season in the world. September 1 is the first day of Ber-season, the months that end with -ber, and the start of Christmas. For four months, every mall in the country plays Christmas songs and is covered in holiday decorations.


Holod means cold in Russian and this is a meat jelly made by cooking pork parts that contain a lot of bone, skin, and cartilage (such as legs, ears, and even hooves), then chicken is added to make a soup that chills into a jelly-like texture. Also known as Aspic, it predates Jell-O by several decades. The meat broth thickens when it cools into a not so appetizingly looking lump of jelly. The polish version is called Zimne Nóżki.

Cuscuz Paulista

This cold cake is made from corn flakes or cornmeal, tomato sauce, tomato pieces, boiled egg, and canned ingredients such as peas, green corn, olives, and sardines. Thanks, Bruno Garin for letting us know about it! It’s a traditional Christmas dish from São Paulo in Brazil.

Cuscuz Paulista

KFC for Christmas

In 1974, KFC took advantage of the fact that turkey was is not readily available in Japan and started advertising chicken for Christmas. The idea took off and it has become a real Japanese custom to eat at KFC for Christmas. This is the only country where the fast-food outlet offers a set meal for Christmas (which includes cake and champagne along with the famous fried chicken). Even though it is ordered in advance, there are long lines waiting for the Colonel on Christmas Day.

Egg Nog

Egg nog is the Vegemite of the alcoholic Christmas beverages – you love it or you hate it! Egg nog started as an aristocratic drink in the 1800s, when eggs, milk, and sherry where all expensive, so nog was used to toast to prosperity and good health.

Raw egg makes the consistency close to mucus but on a positive note, adding alcohol seems to kill salmonella in most cases. However, in 1981 most of the staff and residents of a nursing home in the US became ill after drinking homemade egg nog. Four people died. Thanks, egg nog.

Mopane worms

One of the Christmas foods of choice in Southern Africa is mopane worms, the caterpillar of the Emperor Moth. The ideal harvesting season for these protein-rich maggots is around Christmas, but they are eaten throughout the year. The yellow flesh has been described as tasting just like salty potato chips, or a mix of leaves, earth and salt. Only 3 kg of feed is needed to produce 1 kg of worms.

Trim-a-Tree Dip

It wouldn’t be a complete list of disgusting Christmas foods without at least one odd retro recipe. Meet the Trim-a-tree dip. You mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, blue cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and minced onion. Chill the mixture and shape it into a Christmas tree. Decorate it and surround it with Whistles, Bugles, and Daisies.

Christmas Tinner

Last up, a more modern type of craziness – the video game retailer GAME in the UK sells Christmas Tinner every year, a full Christmas dinner in a can. They started selling them in 2013 and has now added a vegan and a vegetarian option.

The Christmas Tinner layer list in full:

Layer one – Scrambled egg and bacon
Layer two – Two mince pies
Layer three – Turkey and potatoes
Layer four – Gravy
Layer five – Bread sauce
Layer six – Cranberry sauce
Layer seven – Brussel sprouts with stuffing – or broccoli with stuffing
Layer eight – Roast carrots and parsnips
Layer nine – Christmas pudding

The tin will run you £2, but sadly it’s currently out of stock.

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