Wednesday, December 1, 2010
"They Actually Eat That:" Casu Marzu
Cheese is good. It is a good source of protein and can come from anything with an udder. Now, it is possible to have too much of a good thing - the USDA has been encouraging insane cheese consumption, for instance, upping the saturated fat in a number of menu items - but overall, it's butter with benefits. Europe in particular goes crazy for cheese; see your local dairy counter for details. How many of the cheese names are in English? Hell, even cheddar is technically from England.
There is, however, only one cheese so delicious, so weird, so rotten that it is only found in one place on Earth:
Scared yet? You will be.
Casu marzu is a sheep's milk cheese made only in Sardinia. It is very soft and should be enjoyed on Sardinian flatbread with a strong red wine. Like the Camembert referenced in the video, it is also very runny; the resulting liquid is called "lagrima," tears.
It is also loaded with maggots.
They Actually Eat That?!
Yeah, and y'know what? It's illegal in most places.
Casu marzu's softness comes from being chewed up by the larvae of the cheese fly Piophila casei. Who cares what it's called? All you need to know is that the fly lays 500+ eggs in the cheese before it is ready to be consumed and that the .3-inch (8 millimeter)-long larvae can jump out at unsuspecting diners. True casu marzu afficionados will only eat cheese infested with live, squirming larvae, but for the rest of us, refrigeration and paper bags will kill the little things.
Although similar practices using arthropods for flavoring/aging can be found throughout Europe, only casu marzu is illegal in the U.S. and Europe. Not only is it loaded with maggots, but it is rotten to the point of being considered toxic. Even the most adamant left-winger would agree with the government on this one.
Damn, now I realize why Asia needs encouragement when it comes to cheese. It can get pretty sickening.