Stinky tofu, for those who haven’t smelled it yet, is one of the stinkiest foods out there. Made from a brine of fermented vegetables, milk, and meat over several months, the tofu’s offensive odour can’t seem to steer away crowds in a night market. In fact, it draws one of the largest crowds with hundreds of people waiting up to an hour in line for it.
As the story goes, a man in China had lots of unsold tofu left from his food stall. Unsure of what to do with it, he cuts the tofu up into smaller cubes and puts them into clay jars. A few days later he reopens the jars to find that the tofu has grown a considerable stench, immediately thinking that he failed to preserve his tofu and that it has gone bad. Nevertheless, he tries his failed tofu. It turns out that it did not taste like how it smelled, and immediately sold it to customers along the street.
Let’s say the story is true, and the man did sell his fermented stinky tofu concoction out on the streets. How did he know people would be interested in his funky food?
While I can’t say for sure what it truly is, he definitely did take his shot and created change, even when all he had was stinky tofu.
The smell acted as the attention grabber, and with increasingly more people’s curiosity in hand, more people were convinced that something interesting and worthwhile was cooking. Soon enough, its popularity grew as word got out that it’s not so bad after all. Now, its enjoyed as one of Asia’s most famous street foods.