Slideshow: Staff Picks: What's the Scariest Food You've Ever Eaten?

Barn-y Beef Tendon
Barn-y Beef Tendon

File this under "not scary, but kind of gross." I'll never forget a meal I had at a once favorite Sichuan restaurant (a name I shall not reveal because I'd feel bad) where my friends I ordered a beef tendon dish. Imaging sticking your face into a horse's buttcrack and taking a long, deep whiff. That's roughly what the tendon tasted like.—Robyn Lee, AHT Editor/Chief Doodler

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Chili Sauce From Hell
Chili Sauce From Hell

While slurping a satisfying bowl of Kuay Chab at Jae Reiean in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, I glanced at a bowl of chili sauce on the table that changed my life. Had I given it a second look, I'd have noticed just how blood red and evil it looked. But no—I wasn't thinking too much when I added a couple heaping spoonfuls to the soup. All it took was one sip for my eyes to start watering, so that it looked like I was crying like a baby. I've never been sucker punched liked that, and yet for some stupid reason, I liked the pain, and even managed to finish the bowl. What's wrong with me? —Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Editor

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Overcooked Balut
Overcooked Balut

As if soon-to-be-born duck embryos complete with feathers and bones is not scary enough, this particular version of balut that I had paired that with one of my other greatest fears: overcooked eggs. This one was so drastically overcooked that the powerful odor of sulphur almost knocked me off of my pink plastic child-sized seat onto the dusty Cambodian street when I cracked it open. I had to force it down with handfuls of rau ram and pickled garlic. The group of old men who stopped to watch the silly American eating the baby duck were laughing their pants off. That's the first and last time I force myself to eat over boiled egg yolks. Scary stuff indeed.—Kenji Lopez-Alt

[Photograph: Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Cuy
Cuy

I had some cuy (guinea pig) last year while traveling Peru. The meat on our plate wasn't at all scary— just a little greasy and a lot of work for a relatively small reward. HOWEVER, the frozen cuy that emerged from the kitchen for a photo op would have made a great prop on Halloween.—Paul Cline, Developer

[Photograph: Paul Cline]

Octopus and Cow Udder
Octopus and Cow Udder

The octopus and cow udder dish from Mision 19 in Tijuana is still the strangest dish I've ever tried. I was more than a little freaked out by not just the individual elements, but by the combination. Before that fateful day the only experience I'd ever had with octopus was when my mom attempted to cook it, and let's just say it was less than successful. Luckily, Javier Plascencia knows what he's doing, and cow udder is pretty delicious if you don't think about it too much. Who knew?—Erin Jackson, Contributing Editor

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

FergusStock 2011
FergusStock 2011

We're talking potted lamb tongue, pressed pigs ear terrine, crispy tripe salad, trotter etc....I'm sure to the trained palate it was sublime, but I was UNPREPARED for such an evening. I wasn't a big offal fan before, but having it ALL IN ONE NIGHT....I have never ever recovered. —Leandra Palermo, Ad Sales Admin

Pig ear terrine. [Photograph: Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Smoothies
Smoothies

I'm scared of smoothies. Or, more accurately, I am scared of ordering smoothies because I detest bananas, and I've been burned one too many times by places doing a sub par job rinsing out their blenders, resulting in smoothies contaminated with banana flavor. It's gross, and as a result I'm afraid to order smoothies at places where I'm not totally certain they're on top of their rinsing-out-the-blender game. Which basically just means Jamba Juice (they're on point).—Ben Fishner, Ad Ops Admin

[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

Turducken Time
Turducken Time

Have you ever seen a turduken being made? First there's the deboning process, which isn't pretty, but watching a bald bird carcass being shoved inside another bald bird carcass is, to my mind at least, scary/gross/horrifying. Given that my husband has done this every year for almost ten years, though, I've learned to just take my bourbon and get out of the kitchen. —Carrie Vasios, Sweets Editor

[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

Candy Cachaça
Candy Cachaça

I've tried bugs on cocktails and in tacos, but I'm more freaked out by this Halloween project, dissolving candy into booze for a scary-sweet boozy brew. The creepiest of the bunch: cachaça with marshmallows dissolved in it.—Maggie Hoffman, Drinks and Senior Editor

[Photograph: Maggie Hoffman]