The World's Strangest Condiments

Ketchup, mustard and mayo are normal no more

When you think of condiments, you think of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise—certainly not foodstuffs you'd use the word "weird" to describe, unless of course you (rightly) view mayonnaise as the devil's condiment.

To be sure, strange varieties of all three of America's most typical condiments exist within the list below, which outlines the world's weirdest condiments. Other items on this list are downright bizarre, however, and some are even disgusting. To be safe, you probably shouldn't read it if you plan to eat within the next couple of hours.

  • 01 of 09

    Swedish "Caviar"

    Swedish Caviar
    ••• Five-star food Swedish caviar is not. Petey21

    Although traditional caviar is weird in its own right (like, who was the person who decided it would be a good idea, let alone a luxurious one, to eat fish eggs?), it's got nothing on the stuff that passes for it in Sweden. You won't eat this caviar with blini, or have it served to you in a white-glove, five-star setting, that's for sure.

    Ironically Swedish kaviar (spelled with a "k"), which consists of cod roe mixed with mayonnaise and some other plant and animal by-products, is a common topping for chicken eggs, among its other uses. So bizarre is Swedish caviar that the New York Times published an article about a gag-inducing ad campaign for it, back in 2015.

  • 02 of 09

    Vegemite

    Don't knock Vegemite 'til you try it.
    ••• Gaye Launder/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Among the strange condiments on this list, Vegemite is probably the least obscure, even if it's still far from mainstream. Indeed, while most people would probably list this yeast-based bread spread on their lists of the 10 (or 20) most-Australian things, it's not inaccurate to say that the condiment's tainted reputation comes from many people who haven't even tasted it.

    If you're interested in developing an opinion on vegemite based in fact and not innuendo, take advantage of globalization to order it online, or visit the international section of big-name retailers such as World Market.

  • 03 of 09

    Speculoos

    Speculoos
    ••• Yes, cookie peanut butter is a thing. Charles01 via Wikimedia Commons

    Although peanut butter is quotidian today, it was pretty revolutionary for its time, as George Washington Carver would tell you if he were still alive. On the other hand, as delightful as Speculoos (sometimes spelled Speculaas) is, it's difficult to imagine an era delightful enough where spreadable cookie butter is a lunchtime staple in the way peanut butter currently is.

    Whether or not this eventuality comes to pass, Speculoos is quickly becoming mainstream outside its northern European birthplace, with American retailers (most notably Trader Joes) creating homegrown takes on it.

  • 04 of 09

    Filipino Ketchup

    ••• By John Stephen Dwyer (HouseOfScandal at en.wikipedia) (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Here's a riddle for you: Does ketchup taste like tomatoes, or just look like them? This is especially worth considering if your travels will take you to the Philippines, where ketchup is just as often made from another fruit as it is from tomatoes. Not the fruit you're expecting, probably—traditional Filipino ketchup is made from bananas, since tomatoes were in short supply during the period when ketchup gained notoriety in the island country. These days, most banana ketchup is labeled "banana sauce" when you buy it in stores, although some restaurants unleash it on unsuspecting fry dippers, most notably fast food giant Jolibee.

    And how does banana ketchup taste? It's probably closer to its original incarnation than any other item on this list of world's strangest condiments—it's simply a bit sweeter.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Fish Sauce

    Bulk bottles of fish sauce (nuoc mam).
    ••• Sally Dillon/Getty Images

    Speaking of typical condiments, fish sauce is about as normal as you get in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam, where production of it is a major industry. While the taste of fish sauce is often mild, and gets milder the more you consume it, the inclusion of it on the list of world's weirdest condiments derives in part from its production method.

    As you'll see if you travel through destinations in southern Vietnam like Phu Quoc Island or the paved beach of Mui Ne, fish sauce is made literally by drying fish (mostly sardines) in the sun on wire racks, then blending them into liquid. It sounds too simple to be true but alas, it is.

  • 06 of 09

    The World's Hottest Hot Sauce?

    Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce
    ••• Don't try this at home, or online. Public Domain

    During the summer of 2016, this video set the internet ablaze. This video, and the mouths of the girls who starred in it. That's because they were taking a "hot pepper challenge" to eat the Carolina Reaper, by most measures the world's hottest pepper, and one whose consumption safety status is in question.

    While you would be ill-advised to order and try Reaper Sling Blade Hot Sauce, made from the flesh of the culprit pepper, it's good (or perhaps terrifying) to know that someone has made a liquid condiment from a food that poses mortal danger, even in solid form. (TIP: If you still feel tempted, please watch the linked video again and reconsider.)

  • 07 of 09

    Weed Mayonnaise

    Pommes frites , Amsterdam
    ••• Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

    Mayonnaise is inescapable, whether as a result of the euphemism "aioli" and its increasing usage around the world, or its versatility in places like the Netherlands, where it's a typical dip for french fries. The only thing more Dutch than dipping fries in mayo, of course, is dipping them in mayo that tastes like weed.

    Although the legal status of weed is forever in question, thanks to years of rumors that tourists will no longer be able to partake, it's unlikely that Wietsaus (literally "weed sauce" translated into tough) will ever be subject to a ban. That means you'll forever be able to access this exceptional weird condiment—unless, of course, you find the idea of using mayo as a fry bath sacrilegious.

  • 08 of 09

    Indian Mango Pickles

    Avakkai pickle
    ••• Aparna Balasubramanian

    You don't have to travel much (or eat at many non-Western restaurants) to realize that the American definition of "pickle" is a very narrow one. On the other hand, it's pretty rare to see something as sweet and delightful as a mango pickled into a bitter, tangy condiment.

    Of course, the mangoes mango-pickle makers throughout India use to create this strange condiment are not ripe and orange, but green and sour, which makes the concept of this fermented food seem less outrageous. Can't make it to India or even an Indian restaurant? Recipes exist online to help you make mango pickles on your own.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Raspberry-Wasabi Dipping Mustard

    Raspberry Wasabi Mustard
    ••• This isn't your grandpa's mustard. Robert Rothschild Farm

    So far, this list has presented a weird ketchup and a couple of weird condiments with mayonnaise in them. Fear not, mustard lovers (and haters)—everyone's favorite (or least-favorite) yellow condiment gets its place in the limelight.

    Lime, or raspberry as it were: Raspberry-Wasabi Dipping Mustard not only sounds more pretentious than any of the other item on this list of world's strangest condiments, but has perhaps the most complicated combination of flavors, the sweetness of raspberries and the heat of Japanese wasabi not quite canceling one another out. Certainly, you're not going to be spreading this on your next corned beef sandwich.