I first learned about balut from an article at cracked.com, the website of the magazine that, back in the day, was always something of a poor cousin to Mad. In the transition to the digital age, they became a truly great source of fun, with “Book Of Lists” type articles about various interesting bits of history, science, entertainment, and what have you.
I’ll get to what balut is in a minute, but just so that I can cite my source: you can get to the article in which I learned about balut by clicking here, and at that point, I know I will have lost you; you’ll be at cracked.com for a while. So I ask that you read all of this before going there, because may never come back.
Ah, still here. Thank you.
So, Balut. Hoo, boy.
Okay. You know eggs, right? And the eggs we eat, as you know, are unfertilized.
So now imagine a fertilized egg. Now imagine, about 21 days into the 28 day incubation cycle, throwing the egg into a pot of water. Now, instead of having the hard boiled egg that we know and love, you have a hard boiled duck embryo (duck is the egg of choice for balut), fully formed, with bones and everything.
Now imagine sprinkling salt on this and eating it…but not before drinking the amniotic fluid. The fluid, apparently, is a tasty prelude to the crunchy goodness (courtesy of the bones).
The food is a common dish not only in The Philippines, but in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam (thank you, Wikipedia).
This means that there is just about a 100 percent chance that someone, somewhere in the world, is craving balut right now.
Though I try mightily to see the world from another person’s point of view, that task fails me here. I want to see the world through as many eyes as possible; I simply cannot see the world through the eyes of someone who craves balut.
For that matter, I cannot even see the world through the eyes of someone who may not love balut or anything, but will eat it if there’s nothing better on the menu for lunch.
At the same time, it is also difficult for me to imagine that there are people who are equally repelled by food that I eat eagerly and willingly. Yet there are, of course. And if I include foods that I would probably eat if I were hungry and had nothing else to eat for lunch, I greatly expand the number of people on earth who would watch me eat, and become violently ill.
I thought about all of this as I walked in Burger King the other day—an act that in itself no doubt makes some world citizens queasy—and saw an advertisement for Flamin’ Hot Mac and Cheetos.
I’d heard about Mac and Cheetos before. You make macaroni and cheese, and then crush up some Cheetos to give it some crunchiness. Sound at least edible to me, although I admit that its health effects make me cringe, as that I am now at an age in which a surprise coronary becomes more and more of a mathematical possibility.
Still, though: okay, I do say “a bit much in the saturated fat department,” but I could eat it if there was nothing better around. If I were starving, I could eat mac and Cheetos, is what I’m saying.
And I could even eat Burger King’s offering, a spicy variation that encases the macaroni and cheese in a red shell that looks like fried polyester.
And with that said:
There has to be about a 100 percent chance that somewhere in The Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, or Thailand, there is someone, in the middle of their meal of duck embryos, who is completely, totally, utterly unable to conceive of my ability to do this. And come to think of it, there very well may be millions of people, right here in this country, who feel the same way.
Some, no doubt, are close friends.
Anyway, I’m done here. Now follow that cracked.com link, and enjoy yourself. Here it is again, just in case you don’t want to go to the trouble of scrolling all the way back up to the beginning of the article in search of the place to click.