Maggot Infested Cheese Is Illegal In Europe, But It Is Still Considered A Delicacy?
The world is full of bizarre foods that some cultures consider to be delicacies. Some treasured dishes that come from exotic countries sound downright disgusting to Americans. However, Americans have likely never even heard of the most repulsive of all foreign delicacies–casu marzu. Sardinians cannot get enough casu marzu, as this type of food originates from Sardinia, where it is in high demand. Sardinian and Italian speakers are well aware of what casu marzu is made of, and since this type of prepared food is illegal to possess and to make in most of Europe, many other native Europeans have probably heard of casu marzu as well. For those of us living in America, casu marzu can be translated as “maggot-cheese”.
I hate to sound culturally insensitive, but casu marzu is so disgusting that the European Union made it illegal to possess and to make. The reason behind the ban of casu marzu should be obvious, but in case you cannot guess, the maggot infested cheese is dangerous to consume. Ever since the EU made casu marzu illegal, many Sardinians in need of a maggot fix turned to the black market. This is hard to believe, but maggot-infested-cheese is highly sought after on the black market, and criminals are paid top dollar for smuggling the maggot-cheese across Europe.
Many Sardinians have protested the decision to have casu marzu banned in all EU member states. Sardinians have long been hoping to see casu marzu reclassified as a “traditional food.” If casu marzu is reclassified, then it could bypass all food inspections, and become legal. However, keeping contaminated food off of the marketplace, especially foods that contain maggots, is tremendously important from a public health perspective. Today, the legal status of casu marzu is questionable.
The live maggots contained within the fermented cheese belong to the Piophilidae family of flies. The flies are also referred to as “cheese skipper flies”. Not surprisingly, the maggots of this family are known for being pests to ham and cheese. What makes the Piophilidae family notable is the fact that the larvae are capable of jumping into the air when threatened. These small larvae (that people eat) use their bodies in a way that enables them to jump into the air. There are not many maggots in the world that can jump, but for cheese skipper maggots, jumping looks easy, but don’t eat them.
Would you be willing to chew and swallow a spoonful of casu marzu that contained live maggots?