This Ancient Cheese is Eaten With Live Maggots (Video)
In the rustic landscapes of Italy's Sardinia, an age-old culinary tradition endures – one that might bewilder the uninitiated palate. Casu martzu, known as "rotten cheese," boasts a history that spans millennia. This daring ancient delicacy emerges from the meticulous artistry of third-generation shepherd Simone Ibba. Unlike any other cheese, Casu martzu harbors an unexpected secret – a colony of live maggots. This unconventional ingredient, though initially disconcerting, is the very essence that imparts Casu martzu with its unique character. Through a meticulous process, pecorino cheese is meticulously crafted from the rich milk of local sheep. A peculiar species of fly, the cheese fly, plays its role by laying eggs within the cheese.
Over the ensuing months, the larvae feed upon the cheese, gradually transmuting it into the velvety casu martzu. The maggots should be alive when the cheese is eaten because if they are not wriggling, it means the cheese has become toxic.
Reserved for momentous occasions like weddings and birthdays, this cheese's consumption is not without risk. While cases of adverse reactions are exceedingly uncommon, its sale is actually prohibited due to potential hazards. Yet, artisans like Simone persist in crafting this extraordinary cheese for personal enjoyment, preserving a tradition that defies convention and emboldens culinary exploration.
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Top image: Casu Marzu cheese with maggots. Source: ballylocci / Adobe Stock.