Monday, November 19, 2012


Warning: This post may not be suitable for vegetarians and for people who prefer to forget the meat on their dinner plates was actually destined to be an animal.

If you're craving a small merienda (Tagalog for snack), you may be tempted to try a Pinoy specialty: balutBalut are sold at semi-permanent roadside stalls or by roaming one-man sellers (the vendors are mostly men) who call out "baaaa-luuuuuut" in loud deep voices every few minutes. The eggs are usually carried in insulated styrofoam containers, about the size of a can of paint. Inside, the eggs are kept hot. The sellers also carry all the accouterments: salt, vinegar and chilies. Some sellers will also carry water and soap so you can wash your hands.
Balut container, chicharon snacks, salt and spiced vinegar
Balut are boiled duck embryos. On the outside, balut look just like hard-boiled eggs. To eat balut, you start by slurping up the 'soup' - the embryonic fluid. Next you peel away the eggshell until only a tiny sliver of shell remains at the bottom. Then, you sprinkle on some spiced vinegar, tilt your head back, pinch your nose and try not to think about what is coming next. Holding the sliver of eggshell, pop the embryo into your mouth and bite. You might be crunching on a beak and feathers, depending on the age of your balut. After the final swallow, you can eat a pinch of salt to slightly change the taste. Alternatively, you can add the salt at the same time as the vinegar.
Looking inside the balut
One of us (not yours truly) tried (albeit reluctantly, and with much goading from yours truly) balut. This is how the culinary adventure transpired.

After our pedicab ride, Goon asked us if we'd tried balut, then offered to have one with us. I politely decline and offer to photograph the experience instead. Frank agrees to partake in a small merienda feast. Goon buys two balut at 25 pesos apiece, then proceeds to explain and demonstrate the process. Of the experience, Frank recounts that "It just tastes like soup, like broth. It's more the texture that's different. The yolk is like biting through hard rubber."
Goon and Frank eating balut
If you're not convinced by the culinary appeal of balut, then perhaps another one of its attributes may convince you: it is a reputed aphrodisiac, and telling locals you've tried it instantly confers street cred.

Bon appétit!

1 comment:

  1. Frank has more guts than I do.... I don't think I would try it... Very interesting reading your blog...
    Uncle Al