Casu Marzu cheese is quite something. Starting with its name, which literally means 'rotten cheese'. It's no accident either, this Italian sheep cheese is deliberately infested with larvae!
Discover our latest podcast
The larvae - yep, actual maggots - bring the cheese to its final stage of fermentation and make it smooth and creamy. But this dangerous preparation process has consequences: Casu Marzu has been banned in the United States since 2013, on the grounds that it is 'composed of a dirty, putrid or decomposing substance, and seems unfit for consumption.'
It comes with a hefty price tag
In Europe, the 'cheese that moves by itself' has been banned since 2005. It is still traded on the black market in Italy and Corsica. Not only would you have to pay for the cost of travelling to these locations (and all the expenses that come with travelling) but you'll also have to find a way to bargain with the seller because getting your hands on this cheese will cost you a pretty penny.
Health risks are high
But why so controversial? Simply because Casu Marzu is recognized as 'the most dangerous cheese in the world' by the Guinness Book of Records. Larvae can transmit diseases to the consumer, or even stay alive in the body, resulting in enteric or intestinal myiasis.
Consuming it means taking serious risks, and it can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms: nausea, seizures, vomiting, acute abdominal pains and bloody diarrhoea.
We imagine this might put off even the most daring cheese fans, especially as its taste has been described as 'a perfect flavour of rotting and decomposition with a prolonged note of vomit,' by the journalist Yaroslav Trofimov from the Wall Street Journal.
Pretty appetizing right?