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Cheese w/ maggots as delicacy (todays WSJ)

  • c
  • christina z Aug 23, 2000 11:41 AM
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If you get a chance check out the front page article
of today's Wall Street Journal on cheese with maggots
in it ("Casu Marzu") eaten in Sardinia as a delicacy. I've eaten some strange things (grubs in Australia,
crickets in SE Asia) but I'm not sure I could
eat a piece of cheese that was alive with maggots.
There are arguments about whether this is a delicacy
or just a piece of rotten food. Mmm, I'll have
to think about that one.

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  1. Superripe maggoty Stilton was the cheese of choice in Victorian England, and the maggots that had fed only on cheese were considered quite an upper-class luxury, along with well-hung (read: rotten) game and stinky relishes. The taste is not a new one, nor particular to Sardinia...

    11 Replies
    1. re: Pepper
      j
      Josh Mittleman

      Mites, not maggots. They were sometimes called "maggots", but are in fact a variety of mite.

      1. re: Josh Mittleman

        Okay "mites" - but how do they taste?

        1. re: christina z
          j
          Josh Mittleman

          No idea. The FDA doesn't allow us that option.

          1. re: Josh Mittleman

            a friend once told me he ate a cheese at a farm in the french alps that is aged in spider's eggs. he said they know the cheese is properly aged when the baby spiders begin to hatch.

          2. re: christina z

            If you have access to the Saveur issue on Sardinia (August/September 2003), it had a really interesting paragraph about it (with picture). The writer mentioned it tasted like an "extremely ripe gorgonzola" and describes the mites jumping around and landing on everyone. hmmmm.....

          3. re: Josh Mittleman
            c
            caesar giordanella

            where can i get this cheese and how much is it thanx

            1. re: caesar giordanella

              Josh, I imagine you're gonna have to "grow your own". From what I hear, even the Italian (? Corsican)locals aren't supposed to have it. I'd start with a nice ripe barnyard...

              1. re: caesar giordanella

                The only place to get it is in Sardinia and it would cost a trip to Italy. It is illegal to be sold so you would have to make friends with someone.

                Robert Harrison, cheese expert at Eurobest Food Industries, has been quoted as saying about the chances of it coming into the US ...

                "Zero. It won't happen. No way."

                "Anything that's got squiggling beings in it, is not going to make an appearance on USA shelves."

                Taras Grescoe writes about casu manzu in "The Devil's Picnic" a book about a world-wide trip to sample food, drink and other things that are illegal.

                Maybe you could buy a pecorino and make your own? I'm not sure if a specific type of fly is necessary though.

                This article has a recipe, sort of, and says that it can be bought on the black market for three times the cost of Pecorino. Be sure to cover cheese in cheesecloth before setting it out. Looks like there is a non-maggot version available which was dismissed as not authentic.

                http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_...

                Just curious if you are interested because it is something you have eaten?

                If not, you might consider reading the link at the bottom about some of the side effects like larvae attempt to bore through your intestinal walls. It also links to an exceprt from the original WSJ article.

                It's in a different language, but this has a picture of it (not as horrible looking as imagined)Look for the cheesy thing. You have to look closely for the maggots:

                http://www.luifilm.com/neta.htm

                If you do get to Sardinia, try the tordi, four-inch long songbirds that eat myrtle berries. The cold poached birds are served garnished with myrtle leaves. Eat the entire bird, only leaving the beak. The flavor is described as "gamey and floral, deeply flavorful and surprisingly delicious".

                Seems like there's lots of interesting food in Sardinia

                Me, I'm more interested in finding Fiore Sardo (DOP). Great Epicurious article also in the link below about how fiore Sardo is made.

                Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu

                1. re: rworange

                  I have caught and eaten Tordos in Mallorca Spain. I am sure it is the same bird.

                  How we caught them is a remarkable story:

                  You sit in a blind at the top of a hill. Three swaths of forest have been cut out of the entire side of the hill converging on your blind. You sit with your back facing the bare paths up the hill holding a twenty foot long poll in each hand. The polls have netting suspended between them. It is slmost like holding some giant badminton net in your arms. Sort of feels like fishing in the sky. Then you just sit there and wait.

                  Apparently tordos like to fly as low to the tree tops as they can. The carefully trimmed paths through the trees are irresistable flyways for the tordos. You just wait for the low flying birds to plow into the net.

                  When you catch one, you quickly clap the two polls together and lower the polls onto a wire (hung just for this purpose) at the end of the blind.

                  The little critters are now trapped in the net. You dispatch with the tordos quickly and add them to your pouch. The poor little things are sparrow-sized.

                  We had them cooked in the traditional mallorquin way with caramelized onions. They were delicate and tasty, but it seemed a bit of a crime to eat such a delicate little critter. 3 or 4 of them per person was not really much of a meal.

                  I enjoyed it as much for the cultural experience as anything. There really just wasn't enough tordo there to fairly call it a meal. I was told in the past, when tordos were more plentiful, we might have caught 40 or so (as opposed to 12) and then had a real meal of it. I have a feeling people have been hunting this way for thousands of years.

                  On our way off the mountain we came upon some other hunters in their blind. They had some tordos as well, but also had a huge, apparently fairly rare woodpecker looking bird the likes of which I have never seen before or since. I was told the woodpeckers are pretty good to eat as well.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I also had an interesting experience catching, cooking, and eating escargot in Spain.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      We had an interesting experience rescuing snails from the pescaderĂ­a across the street and raising them as pets. They are quite interesting to observe, mainly due to their hermaphroditic behavior...

                      P.S. You have to be careful about eating wild snails--they can be poisonous, depending on what they are feeding on.

          4. j
            Jersey City Mods

            I will try most weird things but I don't think I could eat worms. Anyway, I have heard of this cheese being eaten in Foggia Italy. (And I would not recommend Foggia or the cheese...Foggia is probably the Camden New Jersey of Italy).

            Anyway, that's where.