Friday, January 16, 2009

Casu Marzu, ewww...

A friend just forwarded me a link to a short article about what must be the most disgusting cheese on earth, Casu marzu (maggot cheese). He simply said, "Please never ever make this cheese..."

According to Wikipedia it starts as a block of Pecorino (I would guess Pecorino sardo) that is contaminated with a special type of fly larva (Piophila casei) which partially digest the cheese making it softer. The cheese can be consumed with or without the live maggots (although if you choose to eat them you have to shield your eyes while eating to ensure none of them jump up and hit you.)

This cheese has been outlawed, but it is still available occasionally on the Sardinian black cheese market (I wish I lived in a country that had a black market for crazy or possibly dangerous foods). Shockingly there are several other European cheeses that rely on mites for part of their aging process.

8 comments:

Nicholas Guarracino said...

I saw this too, and I actually thought of you. Part of me thought you might try making it, but I think I'm relieved to hear you saw "ewww" :-)

Corinne E. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Some of my students told me about this and I didn't believe them. I have wanted to make my own soft cheese but this just not the right way, and I like crazy food. Can the maggots really jump?

By the way the flanders red I brewed in May, that you have given me some advice on is starting to turn tart/sour and smells slightly like a flemish sour! Finally.

Ted Danyluk said...

This might be on par with another atrocious food, the Icelandic Hakarl. The fermented and dried Greenland basking shark. Supposedly it smells like ammonia, but doesn't taste as bad. I imagine these foods are a natural coincidence with evolution and survival. Simply fascinating.

John of Caput Mundi Cibus said...

On the island of Corsica the have the same type of cheese with maggots - it´s not outlawed though! I tasted a piece this summer (just with the leftover holes, no worms) and it was ok, tasted really really strong and almost a bit "over ripe"

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I’m glad to hear from someone who has actually tried such a culinary oddity and lived to tell (although I am sad you didn’t get to experience the larva trying to jump into your eyes as you ate).

Steve said...

I just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it!
I would definitely try this cheese if given the chance, possibly with the maggots...
But think about it; bacteria and yeast are living things - beer is literally a soup of waste from the yeast! Lactobacillus and the likes digest the raw materials in unfermented cheese and we thoroughly enjoy the pile of excrement they leave behind >_< I love it

Scyrene said...

Supposedly (I'm sure this was from a reliable source), the larvae can attack the stomach lining, so it's a bit nasty even if you're not put off my the idea. The h√°karl does indeed smell indescribably vile, but the people I was with in Iceland who ate it (I didn't) said it was fine once it was in your mouth. One fermentation I'll steer clear of! (However, the Icelanders do make a delicious fermented dairy product called skyr that everybody loved, and I'd recommend it, it's not hard to make).

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