Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese made using sheep’s milk. However, that isn’t what has earned it its infamy. Instead, that would be the fact that casu marzu contains live insect larvae. Granted, casu marzu isn’t the sole cheese containing live insect larvae that can be found out there, but it is one of the best-known, meaning that it receives the bulk of the popular interest.
What Stands Out About Casu Marzu?
The live insect larvae are critical because they are responsible for turning the hard cheese called pecorino into the soft cheese called casu marzu. In short, people remove a part of the rind from pecorino cheeses before leaving them out so that cheese flies can lay their eggs in them. Eventually, the larvae will hatch before proceeding to feast on the cheese that surrounds them, thus causing it to turn very soft thanks to the larvae’s digestive acid at work. As such, by the time that people actually get around to eating casu marzu, they can expect to find thousands and thousands of these larvae in a single cheese.
How Is Casu Marzu Prepared?
Currently, casu marzu is banned under the European Union’s food hygiene regulations. This is wholly unsurprising because in case this needs to be stressed once more, casu marzu is extra-fermented cheese made using live insect larvae. On top of that, it should be mentioned that careless eaters can swallow the larvae whole, which is a serious problem because it is possible for larvae to survive in the human intestines. In fact, there have been cases of pseudomyiasis involving the larvae of the cheese fly. Something that should serve as a serious warning sign for interested individuals.
With that said, this hasn’t stopped some Sardinians from attempting to declare casu marzu a traditional food. Furthermore, the ban hasn’t stopped some Sardinians from making it anyways, with the result that it can be found on Sardinian black markets. As for the people who choose to eat casu marzu, they tend to take various precautions when doing so. For example, some choose to put their hands over what they are eating, which sounds strange but is important because the larvae can jump out with remarkable speed when disturbed. Likewise, there are others who choose to put casu marzu in a sealed bag before consumption so that the lack of oxygen will kill off the larvae.
Are There Any Variations of Casu Marzu?
Casu marza is made using pecorino, which encompasses multiple kinds of hard sheep’s milk cheeses. Besides them, it is interesting to note that there are similar cheese made in Corsica as well as various Italian regions as well.