Tuesday, November 01, 2005

le grossness est un aphrodaisie (sp?)

here are two bits of foodie lore that equally repel and fascinate me. there are plain gross things like those gag candy gifts of scorpions suspended in a lollipop which no one ever eats, and then there are things that i probably would eat even if it's a little gross in some ways. i'd like to present two items of interest that are just fascinating to me. casu marzu and balut, the former from sardinia and the latter from the phillipines.

Casu Marzu (rotten cheese)

This infamous cheese is no longer legal in Sardinia, but it's so ingrained in the culture that it can be found behind the counter's at farmer's markets or in a local person's basement. It originates as a sheep's milk pecorino which is left in the sun for maggots to develop. The maggots ferment the cheese, digesting the fat, breaking it down in to what I imagine is a pretty pungent plate. You can eat it either with the maggots still within or you can clear the cheese of maggots and then eat it. If you choose to eat it with maggots still within, you may want to wear eye protection because apparently the little maggots pop out of the cheese at fairly quick velocities. cheesy maggoty eye bullets.

but what of the taste! pungent, sharp, and with a tingling sensation that lasts for a bit. when i did an internet search i found everyone saying that the tingling sensation can happen in your mouth or other parts of the body. imagine eating something and then feeling a tingling in your toe every time... or maybe they're just referring to the fact that casu marzu is also supposedly an aphrodisiac. "mmm, maggoty cheese- it makes my loins tingle!"

i would eat this, despite the possible health risks involved (maggots injure the intestinal lining because they try to burrow their way out sometimes). but i'd try to clear the bit that i eat of the lil ones as much as possible.

heres the wikipedia entry on Casu Marzu:

I can't exactly beat wikipedia's posting on balut here. it's more information than i've been able to glean from a variety of off and online publications:
(not that my casu marzu post was chock full of new information)

Balut is essentially a duck embryo cooked and while still in the shell. Different cultures have different preferences for the timing of said enjoyment (ie, with a discernible duckling within or when it's barely different from a normal unfertilized egg), but everyone agrees... It's an aphrodisiac! So many foods that ppl consider gross are also considered aphrodisiacs. does this mean a lot of different cultures think that sex or sexy things is also gross? maybe i'll ponder this later.

There are lots of good pics of balut. But my blog is a thing of beauty and i'm not going to start the new and improved imageful brokedamout with a pic of a boiled duck embryo in shell.

Would I eat this? Well. frankly, yes. I would eat it at basically any stage except when the bones/beak etc got too hard to eat, or if the duckling fuzz caused a hair ball. I would eat this because I don't really see how different it is than eating a chicken or a duck. it's not that much different than eating a deep fried shrimp with it's shell and head, which i understand is marginally less disgusting than balut.

this is what asiacuisine.com has to say about the taste experience of eating balut:

"For the non-Filipino, an adventurous spirit, a desire to explore the unknown and the ability to be open-minded are essential to the enjoyment of balut. A combination of saltiness and tartness, softness and crunchiness, a sensation of sweetness, the degree of resistance to the bite, the viscosity and stickiness are the rewards."

heheh. yeah. aren't we all happy when we're rewarded by viscosity and stickiness.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home