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Braving the world's strangest breakfasts

Diseased corn may not be what you crave in the morning. But travel to Mexico and that’s what you’ll get if you order huitlacoche with your eggs. Even the United States has its peculiar offerings, such as scrapple.
Image: A bowl of chinese porridge on on the table
Congee is a Chinese porridge made by slow cooking rice, until it takes on a thick, creamy texture. The topping? Century eggs, which are traditionally wrapped in a mixture of clay, salt, ash, lime and rice for several weeks. The result? The yolk turns green, and the white resembles amber or sometimes is almost black, with a pungent odor of sulfur and ammonia. Nopphadol Viwatkamolwat /
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Diseased corn may not be the first thing you crave in the morning. But travel to Mexico and that’s what you’ll get if you order huitlacoche with your eggs.

To the locals who enjoy them regularly, huitlacoche and other breakfast ingredients are just as run-of-the-mill as a stack of pancakes doused with syrup. And sampling these foods is a great way to explore the local culture — huitlacoche, for example, is considered a delicacy in Mexico. (It’s also packed with protein and minerals.)

Sometimes the menu item is something familiar, but comes with a twist. Take porridge. If you order up a breakfast bowl of porridge-like congee (slow-cooked rice) in China, brace yourself: it comes topped with a century egg. Though it’s not actually 100 years old, the egg has been aged for weeks (or months) until it takes on the aroma of ammonia and sulfur and has a gelatinous texture.

When in Scandinavia, you can treat yourself to a bowlful of its version of yogurt: filmjölk. The creamy substance is made in much the same way as yogurt — by fermenting milk — but the resulting flavor of this variation resembles a cross between buttermilk and sour cream. It’s often topped with cereal.

But hey, let’s be real. You don’t have to go overseas to find some strange noshes; there are plenty right here in America. Head to the mid-Atlantic, for instance, and you won’t have a hard time finding scrapple — leftover scraps from a pig that are boiled, minced, mixed with cornmeal and seasoned, and then fried up for your eating pleasure.

The next time you have the chance, be adventurous and try them. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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