Friday, July 20, 2007

Casu Marzu – An Unusual Delicacy

Penny for Your Thoughts:
Casu Marzu – An Unusual Delicacy
By Pagan "Penny" Penguin

Casu marzu (a.k.a. rotten cheese, maggot cheese, worm cheese, casu modde, casu cundhídu, or formaggio marcio) is a type of pecorino cheese infested with thousands of wriggling maggots. And believe it or not, it's sold for about three times the price of normal percorino! Don't believe me? Check Wikipedia - they know all about it!

This special cheese goes beyond typical fermentation to a stage most would consider decay. The cheese ages in open air, which allows the "cheese flies" (Piophila casei) to lay their eggs into it. Once eggs hatch, translucent white worms, about 8 mm (1/3 inch) long promote additional fermentation and break down the cheese's fats. Eventually, the cheese becomes very soft, pungent, and full of liquid (called lagrima, from the Sardinian for "tears").

As long as the maggots are still alive (and believe me, you'll know – you can hear them rustling from the package!), the cheese is fresh and good to eat. But buyer beware: if the maggots are dead, the cheese has become toxic. The cheese is typically eaten on crackers or bread, with the larvae still inside of it. Most foreigners try to remove the larvae or "eat around them," which is quite a difficult feat – the larvae can jump up to six inches if disturbed! And if you are adventurous like me, you should accompany your casu marzu with some "worm wine," made from the dreaded caterpillars commonly called army worms. I'll get into that in my next article – I think I hear my cheese crawling off the table.

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At August 14, 2007 at 6:46 PM , Anonymous Wiccan Chicken said...

Penny, I don't know about this - you know, maggots are animals, too. You really shouldn't eat them. They have feelings, too.


Wiccan Chicken :> :> :>

At August 14, 2007 at 7:21 PM , Anonymous Pagan Penguin said...

I can't hear you while I'm chewing, Wic!



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