Thursday, December 23, 2021

Casu martzu and other disgusting ideas

I happened to read in a novel about a Sardinian cheese called casu martzu (or casu marzu, or a few other local dialect spellings), which I had never heard of before.

It's one of those unlikely local delicacies, along the lines of durian fruits, stinky tofu, monkey brains, etc, that give the impression that someone has gone out of their way to create something deliberately disgusting and offensive.

Casu martzu is a cheese, originally a sheep milk cheese similar to pecorino, that has been allowed to be infested with live cheese fly larva (okay, yes, maggots).  The digestive action of the maggots promotes an "advanced level of fermentation", so that the cheese becomes very soft, with some seeping liquid (lĂ grima, or "tears"). 

Of course, partakers risk the larvae surviving their stomach acid and infesting the eater, so casu martzu has been banned for some years by the European Union on health grounds, but that hasn't stopped a vigorous black market in Sardinia, Corsica and a few other areas of Italy, and production is believed to be worth around €2-3 million.

People are weird, right?

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