Take a trip to Jamaica to enjoy Ackee, the country’s most popular fruit. However, please don’t just pick it off the branch and take a bite without inspecting. Unripe Ackee will give you a nasty case of Jamaican Vomiting Sickness. You might experience a seizure or fall into a coma or even die. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Yuck or Yummy? Yuca in the Caribbean
Yuca or Cassava root is delicious. We like it prepared Cuban-style with garlic sauce. But it wouldn’t be nice of us to endorse this root without an important aside. Never ever eat it raw! Improper preparation and you risk death by cyanide poisoning. That’s a pretty big blunder to make in the kitchen.
Take a Careful Taste of Fugu in Japan
They may look innocent while they’re swimming, but these Japanese pufferfish will make sure you’re good and dead, if you don’t prep them carefully before eating. A Fugu’s organs are rich with the poison tetrodotoxin and must be extracted with the utmost precision to avoid contaminating the surrounding meat. Visit Japan for a taste. Their chefs are thoroughly trained to make sure they don’t accidentally kill adventurous foodies like you.
Killer Mushrooms Here, There, Everywhere
The last stanza of Sylvia Plath’s poem Mushrooms warns, “We shall by morning / Inherit the earth. / Our foot’s in the door.” Mushrooms are definitely plotting something evil. Thirty-two different varieties have been associated with fatalities (like the death cap in Europe), and an additional fifty-two are harboring dangerous poisons. But don’t worry. As long as you don’t go foraging for your pizza toppings, we promise you’ll be okay.
Beware of Bullfrogs in Africa
When visiting Namibia in Africa, where Bullfrog is a delicacy, make sure you’re not coerced into kissing this bumpy fellow without having it cooked well first. The point is to neutralize the poison. Otherwise, you could end up with kidney failure, and that would really put a damper on your meal.
Blood Clams in China
If you find yourself in China, you might be tempted to try a blood clam. They look delicious, don’t they? Proceed with caution: they’ve caused hepatitis A and E and even typhoid causing a ban that’s been in place since 1988. Illegal imports occasionally appear stateside. We recommend you walk the other way.
Elderberries in Europe
They have a stunning blue color and medicinal properties, too. If you’re traveling in Europe, you may come across Elderberry-flavored foods and drinks in Germany, Sweden or France. As long as the berries are cooked, you’re in the clear. Just be sure. Fans of elderberry have been seriously poisoned.
Cherries in American Pie
Cyanide lurks in so many of the seeds of our favorite fruits. Take cherries, for example. One cherry pit or two (maybe even three or four) while you’re picnicking in the park, no problem. A large amount of cherry pits carelessly ingested? You’re looking at general weakness, confusion and a host of other serious side effects. Play it safe. Make “spit the pit” your personal slogan.
Toxic Rhubarb in the UK
Who doesn’t love a strawberry rhubarb pie? Well, the British may be suspicious. During WWI, the leaves of the Rhubarb plant were recommended as a food source resulting in widespread poisonings among British citizens. Next time you’re in London, it’s really best to stick to the stalks with this dessert favorite.
A Deadly American Cash Crop: Peanuts
Peanuts. They go by many names (goober peas, anyone?) and have many uses (fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches), but for many of our countrymen, peanuts present a frightening allergy risk. Roughly 3.3 million Americans live in fear of these delicious legumes. We hope you’re not one of them.