I Tried This Taboo Food For The First Time And This Is What I Think

This particular food from the Philippines is generally regarded as controversial around the world. Consuming it was definitely an experience I'll never forget!

A highly exotic country like the Philippines consists of many cultural wonders that are still unbeknownst to many, particularly food. Embedded in the corners of the deepest subdivisions and villages are numerous street food vendors who sell the most intriguing delicacies, if not what are generally regarded as food taboo in most countries.

Delicacy or food taboo?

The balut, a developing bird embryo, is one of the greatest examples of food taboo in the Western world and its consumption has generally been deemed controversial because of religious and animal welfare concerns. In Southeast Asia, however, this delicacy is believed to be a good source of calcium and protein. To Filipinos who have resided in the “pearl of the orient” for most of their life, balut has even become a staple snack especially amongst young adults.

I Tried This Taboo Food For the First Time and This is What I Think

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My Childhood and Food

As a Filipino, unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to try balut until 2014. Although I spent most of my childhood years in the Philippines, my parents being major germaphobes had prohibited my sister and I from consuming any type of street food. If I only realized as a child how much delectable street food there were, I would’ve suffered tremendously knowing that all my playmates were busy savouring fish balls and sweetened bananas on the street. Finally, as an adult in his mid 20s, I had all the freedom in the world, including the approval of finally rediscovering my cultural roots. One of the first things I had on my to-do-list during my vacation was to finally try balut.

I Tried This Taboo Food For the First Time and This is What I Think

The Moment of Truth

Along with my two cousins, I managed to find a balut vendor roaming in the streets of my childhood village. Without any hesitation, I quickly took out my daily budget and bought three baluts for my two cousins and myself. Because I was a returnee or also known in the Philippines as “balik bayan”, I practically felt obliged to treat my two cousins but really it was a mere cover-up for my fear of being the only one to try the balut alone. Before consumption, one of my cousins asked if I knew how to properly eat one. Obviously, with the fear of messing up the proper process of enjoying the balut, I quickly responded with “No”.

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Removing the shell piece by piece, I slowly uncovered body of the baby duck. Gazing at its eyes, I wondered if I was going to be able to pull this off. The first step, which was to suck all of the fluid in the egg, was easy. The warm mini broth tasted almost like green tea. The second step, which was the worst step, was to actually start consuming the fetus along with the yolk. Obviously, I went straight for the yolk as it was the most “edible” at this point. Then, finally, adding some salt on the remaining part, I swallowed the whole fetus. I quickly thought to myself, I am finally a “legit” Filipino. Unfortunately, the first two hours after consumption were not easy. My mind was gratified but clearly my stomach wasn’t. My cousins suggested that I should drink beer as it was apparently the perfect accompaniment with the balut and it would help me “wash” my insides. Eventually, I gave up and ended up regurgitating.

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I Tried This Taboo Food For the First Time and This is What I Think

Thoughts?

The end result was not what I expected. However, I am extremely proud of myself for having to re-explore my roots and try something Westerners would most likely be reluctant of and consider as food taboo. I was happy for having the mental capacity to try something new even though I was aware that my body would most likely reject it. Ultimately, it’s really just mind over matter as cliché as that might sound.

What was the most controversial food you’ve tried? Share your experience with us below!
Featured image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-woman-eating-street-food-1636454/
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