Casu Marzu--Sardinian for Rotten Cheese--is Northern Italy's answer to eating shit. Maggot shit.
According to Yaroslav Trefimov of The Wall Street Journal, Casu Marzu, Sardinia's favorite black market treat, begins with a local cheese called Pecorino, which is left out in the sun, so that nearby barn-flies can deposit their larvae into it, until it becomes overpopulated with a swarming mass of maggots. The enzymes "produced" by the maggots cause the cheese to ferment, which, in turn, decomposes the fats, creating a living culinary delight.
Fans of the fetid fondue à la larvae say Casu Marzu's attributes range from being an aphrodisiac, to containing psychotropic qualities that give a full body rush. It also makes a great centerpiece at wedding banquets and family feasts.
Trefimov describes the viscous larval bomb as a rotten tasting, pungent goo that burns the tongue, and can also affect other parts of the body. Moreover, the lively maggots are far more entertaining than dull cherries suspended in Jell-O, as the creatures continuously leap from the cheese as you eat it. Part of the ritualistic ceremony involves covering the mess with the hand, to keep the little buggers from snapping into the eyeballs with "ballistic precision."
According to Trefimov, when the brown lump (the size of a human head) is presented, the maggots spring from the cheese, and "merrily jump up and down, cavorting all over the table."
Although the gluey abomination is banned in the country, it is considered a rare delicacy and secretly prized, even among government health department officials, one of which admitted he thought the crap was "quite tasty."
What are the chances of Casu Marzu gracing the inventory of our local cheese mongers? According to Robert Harrison, cheese expert at Eurobest Food Industries located in Tualatin, "Zero. It won't happen. No way."
Harrison says it's hard enough getting un-pasteurized cheese imported into this country, let alone one rife with larval parasites.
"Anything that's got squiggling beings in it, is not going to make an appearance on USA shelves."
Casu Marzu: a hot new culinary darling, or the 21st century's gastronomical equivalent of the ant farm? You be the judge!