I vividly remember the first time I tried Gorgonzola cheese. I was sitting outside a little café in Milan, Italy, after the first whiff of what smelled like putrefying garbage, and taking one more look around to make sure it wasn’t a joke I placed the cheese laden baguette in my mouth. After the retching subsided and I was able to rinse out my mouth with ice tea I sat wondering how anyone could possibly enjoy such food. Well many years later I have acquired a taste for the cheese, though I still squirm sometimes, along with many other foods that I would have never eaten before.
This brings us to Casu Marzu, which translates to ‘rotten cheese’. Made in Sardinia, Italy this cheese is based on Pecorino Sardo, a brine soaked and smoked cheese, but that is where it starts to get sketchy. There are a couple of ways this Pecorino is turned into Casu Marzu, one is by setting it outside and letting cheese flies lay eggs inside, another is to cut into the cheese and introduce grown maggots. As the maggots eat the cheese they produce enzymes that cause the decomposition of the cheese. Not only does this cause the cheese to drip a watery liquid, the maggots can actually jump up to six inches when aggravated, requiring eye protection while you consume it. The best part is the European Union has outlawed the sale of the cheese for health reasons such as, still living maggots burrowing into the stomach walls. Yet the Sardinian can’t get enough of this “delicacy” and they continue to produce it. There are very few foods that I wouldn’t dare to try, but this is at the top of the list.