Most people would throw out food that becomes infested with maggots, but on the Italian island of Sardinia, the maggots are the driving force in making casu marzu cheese. Shepherds make the cheese, then leave it to age for three months. While that’s happening, cheese skipper flies lay their eggs in cracks that form in the cheese, those eggs hatch, and then the maggots eat their way through the cheese and transforming it into a soft, creamy delicacy.
It gets crazier. Some locals spin the cheese through a centrifuge to merge the maggots with the cheese before they eat it, while others eat it as-is, maggots and all. The cheese is said to have an “intense” flavor and an aftertaste that stays for hours.
“The maggot infestation is the spell and delight of this cheese,” says 29-year-oldPaolo Solinasfrom Sardinia. You can’t buy this cheese anywhere; it’s illegal to sell, in part because of the health risk from eating live maggots. Anyone that sells the cheese faces fines as high as $60,000, so if you’d like to try some, you’ll need to make friends with a Sardinian shepherd and wait for the maggots to do their work.