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Balut: A Filipino delicacy that’s not for the weak

Travelers Today       By    Althea Serad

Updated: Feb 10, 2014 12:19 PM EST

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balut, filipino delicacy

WARNING: Pictures may contain graphic content for some cultures

The "balut" - a famous Filipino or "Pinoy" delicacy, is not for the weak-hearted. It is no feast to the eyes, and yet, it has been an object of culinary fascination around the world for years.

During earlier days, you would hear the local peddler shouting inside villages "baluuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, baluuuuuuuuuuuuut, bili na kayo ng baluuuuut" (balut, balut, buy balut), and you would hear a few houses shout the name of the delicacy back, albeit a little shorter. This means the balut peddler must go to those houses and sell the freshly-cooked duck eggs.

The "balut" is an 18-day-old fertilized duck egg which has shocked even the most courageous of foodies. It has earned a position in many a "most disgusting / strange / terrifying food" lists.

However, much loved by Filipinos all over, the country is torn between love and hate over the delicacy. Not all Filipinos eat balut nowadays, and there aren't many peddlers of the food anymore. You would see a few villages where vendors still peddle the "balut", but most people who sell "balut" now are sidewalk vendors.

Affection for the "balut" starts at a young age. It depends entirely on a Filipino kid's parents. Getting used to it just requires introduction during childhood.  

 Today there aren't many parents who introduce the delicacy to their children. In an effort to preserve its popularity in a country that's fast modernizing and evolving, some Philippine schools bring in the "balut" during science class and give them to the young students.

The "balut" is used to study the anatomy of the birds, then, of course, they eat the compressed duck inside the egg afterwards.

A Manila resident ant student, Anna Vecin tells of her experience in school, "Our teacher made us eat the egg so it wouldn't go to waste, and if we didn't eat it, we'd get a low score on that day's lesson. Of course, I had no choice but to eat it."

This wouldn't exactly be the most convincing way to introduce the delicacy to children who aren't used to eating it, as this can lead to a lifelong distaste for "balut".

Despite some Filipinos being averted to the fertilized duck egg, the dish is still popular among Filipino families with ethnic Chinese backgrounds.

Regardless of the decreasing rate of popularity of "balut" in the Philippines, still one thing holds true for this dish, it certainly isn't for the weak-hearted.

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