Cheese for Sale at the Market in Frome Somerset England
Food - Drink
What Is Sardinian Casu Marzu Cheese And Why Is It Illegal In The US?
What is Casu Marzu?
Casu marzu, literally “rotten cheese,” is a maggot-infested pecorino cheese that’s a regional delicacy of Sardinia. The story goes that long ago, shepherds chose to eat maggot-infested cheese and were pleasantly surprised by its flavor. Wanting more, they began attracting maggots to their aging Pecorino cheese.
What Does It Taste Like?
As the maggots mature, they digest the cheese's proteins and pass excrement, leaving soft, creamy trails in their wake. Britannica describes the cheese as having “a very soft, melting texture,” so if you’re a fan of strong, semi-soft cheeses like gorgonzola, there’s a good chance casu marzu is right up your alley.
Illegal Cheese
Despite being protected as a traditional Sardinian product, casu marzu is illegal in both Italy and the United States, and in Italy, selling casu marzu could get you a 50,000-euro fine. More than that, Guinness declared it the world’s most dangerous cheese due to the potentially risky side effects of eating live maggots.
Illegal but Available
Casu marzu is officially unavailable in Italy and the United States, but unofficially, it's a different story. You won’t find it in restaurants or shops, but if you visit a private home or local farm, you might get lucky. If you do find it, feel free to pick the live maggots out before enjoying, or tightly seal the cheese to kill the maggots before eating.