When you’re looking for a special kind of cheese to spice up your sandwich, which one do you reach for? For me, it’s usually cheddar, but some might want something a little more…exotic. For these folks, I would recommend trying the special Italian cheese officially known as casu marzu. Translated to English casu marzu literally means “rotten cheese.”
Casu marzu actually begins as a different kind of cheese altogether called pecorino sardo. However, instead of letting the cheese ripen in a darkened basement, cheesemakers bring the pecorino sardo outside and place it in the sun. There flies are allowed to lay eggs in it.
As the eggs hatch, tiny maggots feed on the cheese and release enzymes that speed up the fermentation process.
Surprisingly enough, casu marzu is in very high demand even though it’s been outlawed by both the Italian government and the European Union. Despite the ban, Sardinian locals continue to produce casu marzu and sell it on the black market.
While Sardinians claim there are no ill health effects from eating casu marzu, studies have found that it can occasionally cause severe allergic reactions that last for weeks. It’s also possible that some of the maggots will manage to pass through your stomach alive, which can cause problems down the line.
Casu marzu is known as the world’s most dangerous cheese. Not because of the possible health risks, but because the maggots are known to jump as far as six inches when they’re being eaten. So…wear some eye protection!
(via I Love Cheese)
Well, even though that sounds interesting, I think I’ll pass. I know maggots are a good source of protein, but I’d prefer to avoid eating them unless absolutely necessary.