Watch - cheese infested with live maggots is a delicacy

Even though cheese is pretty disgusting when you think about what it is, most cultures enjoy eating the coagulated mammary secretions of hoofed animals. Even bleu cheese (which is little more that moldy fat) is considered good eating by a lot of people. But when it comes to cheese infested by maggots, most folks draw the line.

Not the residents of Sardinia. They go for casu marzu, a festering pile of rotten pecorino cheese teeming with squirming fly larvae. Stashed away in cupboards and under counters at open-air markets due to its contraband status, casu marzu is a cheese in which flies have been permitted — actually, encouraged — to deposit eggs. When the thousands of eggs hatch, the maggots eat the cheese and release an enzyme, triggering a fermentation process that causes the fat in the cheese to putrefy. By the time the cheese is ready to be consumed, it’s a gluey mass that creates a burning sensation in the mouth. Because the maggots will attempt to leap into the cheese eater’s eyes, conventional wisdom dictates that you should cover the cheese with your hand when you raise a piece it to your lips.

Squeamish casu marzu gourmands who don’t want to ingest live maggots can first place the cheese in a paper bag and seal it. When the maggots become starved for oxygen, they jump out of the cheese and writhe in the bag, making a pleasant pitter-patter sound.

When the sound subsides, that means the maggots are dead and the cheese is ready to eat. Read the rest

These Mac 'n' Cheese Candy Canes are selling out fast

If you were thinking of getting a box of Archie McPhee's Mac & Cheese Candy Canes, get on it.

After a post on @junkfoodmom in mid-September, their cheesy yellow-and-white striped candies started becoming popular ("This one isn’t bad! Smells like cheese and tastes like Mac n cheese but the sweetness overpowers the flavor eventually so it’s doable."). Since then, the candy has been covered all over the internet and even landed a spot in the print version of People magazine. Now, because of its "extreme popularity, Archie McPhee has had to limit its sales of the canes to one box per person.

I asked the company's Director of Awesome David Wahl why he thought they took off like they did and he wrote back,

We actually thought Clamdy Canes would be more popular. Turns out mixing two things people actually like together gets people more excited than actually trying to gross them out. (As we should have learned from the Bacon Candy Canes and Pickle Candy Canes.)

I think we became the “I dare you to try this” food of the moment (and of Christmas!).

Personally, I can’t wait for all the videos of kids trying the Mac and Cheese Candy Canes that Santa brought them.

Get a box while you can for $5.95/each. If they do end up selling out, don't sweat it. There's plenty of those Clamdy Canes (their clam-flavored candy canes) to go around. Read the rest

Funeral potatoes are not as grim as they sound

Walmart has been advertising to my friend Terry in his Facebook feed. He showed me screenshots of the ads. They were all strange (octopus, anyone?) but the first one was particularly odd, one neither one of us had ever heard of before: funeral potatoes.

The name made me curious, of course. I needed to learn more.

The first thing I discovered is that they're are a Utah thing, usually served after Mormon funerals (hence the name).

But what are they exactly? Well, Food & Wine describes them as "one of the greatest American triumphs" and offers this description of their ingredients:

...the cheesy potato casserole is made with hash browns, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup, lots of cheese, lots of butter, lots of sour cream and ... cornflakes

(Or crushed potato chips instead of cornflakes, I also learned.)

That's some serious comfort food. Good job, Utahns.

If you think you'd like to make some, there are no shortages of recipes on the internet for them. Of course, you could just buy a bag of them from Augason Farms. But, as one commenter points out, "No Amazon. Just no, no, no. These need to be homemade by church ladies and served in the church basement with a sliced ham, garden canned green beans, rolls, 7 layer pea salad, and an assortment of pies, cakes, and Jello salad with shredded carrots."

Good point, though the bagged version has a shelf-life of 18 months.

As far as this regional foods' history, Deseret News reports:

The true origin of funeral potatoes has been lost to time, but one can speculate about how the dish became such a Utah staple.

Read the rest