That dish you're devouring is always tastier with the knowledge that it once had the opportunity to eviscerate, sting, and/or poison you to death (provoked or otherwise). With that in mind, we've rounded up some of Mother Nature's finest killing machines around the world to illustrate food that bites back, and where to find it. Get ready to unhinge your jaws for some tasty, unabashed savagery.
Orderable in: Japan
The pufferfish is the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world, after the gold poison frog. As such, it'd surely ruin your day to eat one, right? The tetrodotoxin found in its ovaries, liver, and flesh has been know to cause paralysis, vomiting, and death. As such, Japan has strict safeguards in place, and chefs have to go through rigorous certification before they're ever allowed to prepare a puffer and subsequently serve it up as soup or sashimi.
Orderable in: Louisiana
A few episodes of "When Animals Attack" is enough to clue you in to keep your distance from these guys rather than wrestle them. Instead, bite back (as residents of Louisiana do) by enjoying those large lizards fried, Cajun-style.
Orderable in: Japan
These gelatinous swimmers have been around for a little over 500 million years, making them the oldest multi-organ animal outfitted with stinging tentacles. They secrete a neurotoxin designed for defense and capturing prey, and although stings aren't fatal to humans, they hurt like hell. A delicacy in Japan, the jellyfish is typically caught, dehydrated, rehydrated, and served with vinegar and vegetables in a salad. Delish!
Orderable in: China
So yeah, the scorpion stung the frog half-way across the river, leading them both to drown. The single take away? The scorpion's just plain nasty. But if you deep fry 'em, they (of course) taste like chicken!
Orderable in: the Amazon
Known for having voracious appetites and scalpel-like teeth, these South American swimmers gained their notorious rep from accounts that schools of them stripped a cow to the bone. Plus Piranha 3D happened. Scary! Local fishermen of the Amazon basin grill these bad boys up in banana leaves, or boil them in a soup that's said to have aphrodisiac properties. Kinky.
Orderable in: Cambodia
Fangs? Check. Venom? Got it. Claws? Tick. Barbed hairs used as projectiles? WTF?! Why anyone in their right mind would want to keep one of these freaky things as a pet is beyond us, but we do know that given their arsenal of things that can really ruin your day, you should relish the idea of gnawing them off a stick -- with lots of ketchup.
Orderable in: China
Point blank, you know these slithery suckers can kill you. From syringe-like fangs and unhingeable jaws, to venom-squirting, constricting craziness, snakes have perfected the art of effing you up. The solution? Eat the legless lizards as the Chinese do, fried or in soup form. Extra points for washing it down with a shot of snake wine!
Orderable in: Russia
It has claws, can sprint faster than you, and that hug it wants to give you will probably be the last bit of love you'll ever feel. Although your best bet is playing dead when confronted by a bear, flip the tables and have it play dead… on your plate. Preferably served up in a pelmeni, which is basically a Siberian dumpling that's filled with minced bits of Baloo, boiled, and eaten with a variety of sauces.
Orderable in: Singapore
Although not dangerous in nature, these pussycats of the sea like to conceal themselves in shallow water... so tread carefully. When provoked (or stepped on accidentally), these winged fish bite back with a barbed stinger that secretes venom strong enough to knock off a Crocodile Hunter. As food, residents of Singapore grill up the prized wings over charcoal and baste them in spicy sambal sauce.
Orderable in: Iceland
Duh nuh. Duh nuh. Duh nuh duh nuh… you get the idea. Plus, you crave the utter ferocity of Shark Week with a passion, and know these prehistoric beasts would snap you in two with their multiple rows of razor-sharp teeth if you weren't scoffing at them in Iceland. Here, they're whipped into what's called hákarl, which is basically shark charcuterie (sharkuterie?). First it's dried, then left to rot for five months before it's even safe to consume (due to the high amount of poisonous urea found in the flesh). Both Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern have described it as being the most horrifically disgusting thing they've ever eaten.