Casu Marzu
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"My father told me never to eat anything that can wink back."
- Samuel Vimes, in Jingo by Terry Pratchett

Basic Information

Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese whose name translates as "rotten/putrid cheese". It is made from sheep's milk, and during the fermentation process the larvae of the so-called "cheese fly" are introduced to it, whose digestive juices aid in the process.

When the cheese is served, these maggots are still alive. Some people prefer to remove the maggots before consumption, while others do not. Care must be taken in the latter case, as the disturbed maggots can launch themselves for distances up to 15 cm from their starting position. A polite compromise is often found by placing the cheese in an airtight bag and suffocating the maggots - the end of the rattling as they fling themselves against the container trying to escape signals a cheese free of (live) larvae.

This cheese is considered to be an aphrodisiac by many Sardinians.



Game and Story Use

  • This is a good sample of food from alien cultures that PCs might have to face when interacting with said culture. Will they eat it - and possibly choke on it? Or will they refuse, and possibly offend their hosts?
    • This is the sort of meal that has the potential to break all sorts of taboos … for obvious reasons a lot of cultures have formal or informal taboos on eating anything flyblown, or still alive.
    • To some species, the maggots may actually be the meal - the cheese is just a serving vessel.
    • To others - like the Pak'mra from Babylon 5 - foods may be taboo until decay has set in.
  • You could easily make this food more disturbing. For example, demons of the Abyss might make cheese with demonic maggots. And you don't want to know where the milk comes from…
  • When people ask what the gross domestic product of Sardinia is … this is it.
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