Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

May 29, 2007

Delicacy

Filed under: General — lapulapu @ 10:45 am

The vendor’s face was like the surface of the moon, but I did not see why that should disqualify him from selling balut. “How much are they?” “12 pesos.” So far so good. I don’t know what balut should cost on the boulevard in Dumaguete on a summer’s evening, but I could afford to be taken for a quarter.

“When did you cook them?” “At home.”

“Yes, but when?” “Today, of course.”

I suppose you can tell when a hard-boiled duck embryo has gone off, but I thought I’d ask anyway.

“How many days?” “Fifteen. You want fifteen?”

“Are there others?” “Yes, of course. Fifteen, eighteen, twenty…”

“Give me eighteen.” “No. Eighteen has feathers already.”

“Good. Eighteen.”

The eggs were in a plastic pail with a cloth wrapped around them. I think there is a procedure, a little ritual, for eating these things, but the vendor was preoccupied and not interested in telling me what it was. When I asked how to do it he just cracked the egg open at the fat end and pointed to a container of coarse salt. My balut was still very warm, almost too hot to eat.

I picked the shell away and slurped out the juice. Not bad. It wasn’t difficult to get at the would-be chick. At eighteen days gestation the white has mostly become duck, so the shell comes away cleanly. Not sure what to do next, I just gave the little guy a good pinch of salt and tossed him back whole. Hmm. Where’s the slight crunch of beak? The feathery weirdness? I chewed and chewed waiting for some dawn of recognition, but I guess my palate is unrefined, or maybe I was given a fifteen day after all. There was lots more liquid than I expected, but the dominant texture was from the bit of remaining egg white at the bottom, which was quite hard and chewy. Being kind of dense myself I was actually a little surprised to find that the taste was mostly just egg yolk in savory broth. The only unpleasantness was at having the juices all over me when I was finished. I squeegeed my chin with my fingers and licked myself clean like a cat.

1 Comment »

  1. I have since learned that the rubbery white part at the bottom is not to be eaten. Much better without, I’m sure.

    Comment by Donald — February 22, 2008 @ 8:05 pm

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