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Casgiu Merzu

Corsica’s famous maggoty cheese

Casu Marzu, a type of cheese.

Also spelled casgiu marzu (‘rotten cheese’), this cheese is available only on Corsica (and Sardinia where they make the similar casu martzu) and is something of an acquired taste.

To make it, the eggs of the Piophila casei cheese mites (asticots) are inserted into the middle of the uncooked cheese where they eventually hatch. As the maggots eat and excrete, they break down the cheese’s fats and proteins until it becomes very tangy and creamy.

The maggots measure .3 inches and by the time a cheese is ready, there are thousands swarming inside. When disturbed they jump up to 6 inches; even so, some diners prefer to eat it with the live maggots in it; others prefer the cheese soaked in eau-de-vie (which forces the maggots to flee) while others prefer it heated.

If the maggots have died, the cheese is no longer good.

Cheese and dairy


Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Shardan