Eating In The Dark

The Tale of Balut – Pinoys’ Exotic Street Food

Balut is boiled fertilized/incubated, for around 17-18 days, duck eggs, that is popular in the Philippines and other Asian countries. Before the sun sets, You would hear vendors shouting, “Balut”! I can’t imagine eating it at daylight. I’m sure you’ll hardly swallow this just by looking at the appearance. Balut literally means wrapped.

I’m very sorry for this, maybe some of you may be put-off just at the sight of the “Balut” but this is one of the most loved Filipino delicacies, I dared to feature. 🙂 I got curious about it before that I asked a “Balut” vendor for the story.

According to the vendor, a farmer who’s raising a duck, went to a relative’s wedding for weeks. It is customary in the Philippines that when there’s a wedding, relatives near and far would come visit and help in the preparations. So the farmer, put some ducks on his baskets as wedding gifts and traveled some days to attend the wedding. As weddings are joyous event, he forgot about the days that passed as he hopped from cousin to cousins and siblings as he missed them. He went back with a happy mood. At home, after a short rest, feeling hungry, he went to the backyard and harvested some duck eggs, he thought, just a day hatched. He washed and boiled them. He was so astonished when he peeled-off the shell that he saw a duck fetus, with the appearance of feathers and small beak. But because of hunger, with his eyes closed, he ate it and was surprised with the flavor and the juice. And this began our long history of eating Balut.

Kidding aside, the practice of making incubated eggs has Chinese influence way back in the sixteenth century. Being a Pinoy, I was literally force to taste Balut while in college. Many of us believe that Balut is a super food and a food for the brain. So while studying for my exams the next day, I took the courage to eat Balut. Balut is usually sold at night and people eat it in the dark.

Balut is best paired with cucumber salad for a refreshing balance of flavor. The salad is made from slices of cucumber with vinegar, sugar, ground pepper, salt and minced onions. Your sugar must be proportionate with the amount of the vinegar. Aside from Balut, common street foods include grilled chicken, barbecues and fried pork.

Published by Maria Cristina Gino Baroso

Education advocate and travel lover

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