Recently, I noticed that Deborah hated cheese, but David seems to love it! When I was a little girl, I could not see or smell cheese, all sorts of cheese… Nevertheless, when I grew up, I became more and more attracted by it, and I can say I definitely love it – except for Roquefort – and I believe I have eaten thousands of different cheeses.
However, does someone know about Casu Marzu? The cheese? The famous and traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for being riddled with live insect larvae? 😀
You did not? Me neither! 😀 Let’s have a look…
Casu Marzu, also colloquially known as Maggot Cheese… Yes, you have read what I have written right: Maggot Cheese. This ‘delicacy’ is a runny white cheese made by injecting Pecorino Sardo cheese with cheese-eating larvae. It is mainly found in Sardinia, Italy, and it literally means ‘rotten cheese’ in Sardinian. Casu Marzu is not your average cheese lover’s cheese. Then, if that is not to scare you away, how about a few thousand wriggling maggots?
Casu Marzu begins as Pecorino Sardo, a cheese that is typically soaked in brine, smoked, and left to ripen in the cheese cellars of central Sardinia. But to produce Casu Marzu, cheese makers set the Pecorino Sardo outside in the open, uncovered, and allow cheese flies (scientifically named Piophila casei – the cheese fly) to lay eggs inside of it.
As the eggs hatch into white transparent maggots, they feed on the cheese. By doing so, they produce enzymes that promote fermentation and cause fats within the Casu Marzu to decompose. Sometimes, cuts are even made into the rind of Pecorino Sardo and already-hatched maggots are introduced into the cheese. This way, it speeds the whole cheese making process. Thus, Casu Marzu is created by the gastric juices of the thousands of maggots that infest it…
Some people say Casu Marzu tastes like an extremely ripe Gorgonzola, without the blue veins and with a whole lot of larvae of course! 😀 One piece of Casu Marzu may be populated by thousands of living, breathing maggots.
Italian people really love this cheese and champion its cause when this delicacy is criticized. Anyway, we should not forget that the cheese can pose various health hazards, such as an intestinal larval infection for instance.
It is best for you not to think about that while you are chomping through your Gouda or Cheddar, dear reader 😀
If you want to know more about this particular cheese or even just to know where you could find some because it has stimulated your appetite, I refer you to Wikipedia or this really interesting video, starring a great chef, Gordon Ramsay!