Cheese is considered a delicacy all around the world, especially in europe. You can easily find them in your local market or find their counterpart organic products online if you are pro-organic. However the Cazu Marzu, also known as “rotten cheese” is considered the most dangerous cheese that exists and is illegal for selling by the european regulators. This unusual delicacy originated from Sardinia, Italy, and is the staple cheese that the lovely island could offer until it was banned way back. The Sardinians attempted to apply for a PDO for the Cazu marzu, to retract the ban, but the application was rejected by the European Union. The managed to maintain its legal status within the union because it is considered as a traditional food so their production was never stopped.
How it’s made
The process of fermentation for the cazu marzu is rather unpleasant. The farmers use the island’s pecorino cheese, made from sheep milk, as a base to produce the rotten cheese. The crust of pecorino is cut open and left outside in the open. This will attract flies called piophila casei to lay eggs inside the cheese and a female piophila casei can lay up to 500 eggs at one time. The hatched larvae begin to eat through the cheese and the acid that comes from the maggots digestive system and breaks down the cheese fat’s molecules which transforms the texture of the cheese to be very soft. The cheese requires an adequate amount of time to be produced so the cheese is left in a dark hut for about two to three months By the time the cheese is ready to be harvested and eaten, the cazu marzu will contain thousands of maggots. The cheese is eaten and digested with the larvae contained within. Yes, the live larvaes stays inside the cheese during consumption.
What does it taste like ?
How does rotten cheese became a delicacy ? Is the taste worth the risk of having maggots living inside your body? A true sardinian will say yes. The soft texture of the cheese makes it very easy to spread in on bread washed down with a glass of red wine. Most people would agree that it has a very strong acidic taste, almost rancid of the pecorino.
Why its banned
Sardinians consider the cheese to be unsafe to eat if the maggots are dead. The prominent reason as to why this rotten cheese is banned from the market is because of the health related issues regarding eating live maggots. By eating the maggots alive, there is a possibility that the maggot can survive in the stomach acid and remain to incubate in the intestine. Although there are not many, cases of pseudomyiasis(the condition caused by the larvae living in your intestine) have been documented before.
The European Union food hygiene-health regulations outlawed the cheese and the offenders pay a heavy fine if found producing or selling it. Many attempts have been to lift this ban and so the Cazu Marzu has been declared as a traditional food therefore exempting them from ordinary food hygiene regulations. Legally, the production of Cazu marzu is only allowed for personal consumption but there are a number of them being sold in the black market.