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Casu Marzu

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    Posted: 23 Mar 2010 at 9:03pm
Over the July period I received several Emails enquiring about an Italian ‘worm or maggot’ cheese called Casu Marzu. Apparently there had been an article in a UK newspaper and questioners wanted to know if it was a late April-fools joke!

Following discussions with Professor Zeppa from the Agricultural Faculty of Turin University (Italy) I can confirm that there is a cheese called Casu Marzu and that it is called by various colloquial names that when translated into English equate to worm or maggot cheese.

Professor Zeppa explained that there appear to be several cheeses produced using the cheese fly Piophila casei. Saltarello friulano, produced in Friuli is a cheese ripened with fly larvae in a special “cellar” and is fairly well known, “Cacio Puntato” also known as “Marcetto” is another similar cheese and is produced in homes in Abruzzo.

These cheeses are produced in other regions also by small or domestic cheese producers. Production of these cheeses contravenes Italian hygiene regulations and their production is officially prohibited.

In general, it would appear that the cheeses are eaten after the fly larvae have been removed.

Apparently a request for Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) status has been made. This is based on the use of a special cheese fly produced by the Entomology Institute at the University of Sassari. These flies can be used to infect cheese in clean rooms and the larvae can be separated from the cheese before consumption. While some scientists regard these ‘worm cheeses’ as defective and adulterated products they appear to be held in high regard by some consumers.

I have also been given some information on Casu Marzu from Dr Giuseppe Aprea from the University of Naples who discussed his family experiences in Sardinia.

So Casu Marzu is real but its production is illegal at present. It is one of the world's many interesting cheeses. Anyone got any photographs?

There is an interesting article in Wikipedia. See reference below.

Wikipedia contributors. Casu marzu [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2007 Aug 9, 15:44 UTC [cited 2007 Aug 27]. Available from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Casu_marzu&oldid=150196968. Note an update version is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu .
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