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The Surprising Balut Experiment

Disclaimer: if you are a vegan, squeamish about weird foods and/or just eating your breakfast, you might want to reconsider reading this article!

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When I arrived to Philippines, I knew that sooner or later I would have to face balut, that infamous delicacy known to make travellers squeamish. Now, I pride myself in eating pretty much anything the locals do. On this trip I have tried fried crunchy grasshoppers in Mexico, live shrimps in Thailand that kept jumping out of the bowl and snake with the famous snake blood shot in Vietnam.

With all those foods, I haven’t really had any problems, but balut is a whole different ball game, or I suppose it should be egg game in this case. I was in Moalboal doing some diving and had made friends in the lodge I was staying in. There was four of us and when the topic of balut came up, there was no going back. With a bit of good old fashioned peer pressure we decided to head to the market. Although, I do have to say that everybody in our little group was surprisingly keen on trying balut.

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We squeezed all of us into a tricycle and headed off to the market few miles away. The market wasn’t too busy as it was getting late, but we did find a balut seller outside. Just a small table, a sign and bucket full of balut eggs.

So we purchased one for each, they were only 18 pesos; and then there I was holding that damn egg in my hand, and truth be told, I wasn’t too keen on it at that point. Balut is the only food I’ve come across that actually does make me a little squeamish.

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If you don’t know what Balut is, let me explain. But first, if you are a bit squeamish about really weird (read disgusting) foods and you are just eating your breakfast, just finish your breakfast first. I’ll wait.

Alright, done?

Good.

So, balut; to simply put it, is duck embryo that is boiled while it is still in the egg and then eaten straight from the shell.

Did you get that? It is

duck embryo that is boiled in the shell…

When described like that, it doesn’t sound exactly appetising now does it?

Anyway, we got our eggs and started peeling them. In order to do that you have to first break the shell which is surprisingly hard! Once you’ve done that, you take a sip and drink all the fluids from the egg, I didn’t find the fluids that tasty. Then you continue to peel off the shell, so you can get to the egg/embryo, which looks more or less like a half formed bird (with bones and wings) depending on how long the embryo has been allowed to develop. You put on some salt, you take a bite, and you know what?

It was actually pretty damn good.

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It is like half egg half chicken, and if you get over the shock of what it is and how it looks like, with some salt it is actually pretty nice. After we had finished our eggs, we actually wanted more! But the lady only had one left, which we of course purchased, but we were a little disappointed. Now this wasn’t at all how I had envisaged this whole thing.

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Now I debated if I should write this post or not, I probably lost all the readers with this post that I managed to entice with all those adorable cute Tarsiers in last post, but this sacrifice was done for a reason. I’ve talked with many people about balut, who have been to Philippines or are about to go. And many of those just find balut too horrifying (a notion which I find hard to disagree with) and just skip it while in the Philippines. However if you get past the looks and actually break that shell to find what is inside, what you actually find, is a tasty Philippine delicacy, something you don’t want to miss.

And for sure it will give you something to talk about back home when you are eating eggs for breakfast!

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Have you tried Balut, what did you think? Or have you come across something else on your travels that has made you squeamish?

23 Comments

  1. Damn I should not have read that. Christmas party last night and ultra hungover! Even if I was feeling great I truly don’t think I could eat Balut at all.
    Cole @ Four Jandals recently posted..A Guide to Visiting JasperMy Profile

    • Damn, I should’ve added a warning about a hangover to the disclaimer :)

  2. I love the Balut but I am being biased, of course 😛 The balut looks gross but it tastes good 😀
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Overnight Stay in Taal Vista Hotel – Tagaytay CityMy Profile

    • That’s the thing, it doesn’t look appetizing, but it tastes good! :)

  3. Have to admit I was surprised to read it’s ‘actually pretty damn good’, who would have thought? Certainly makes snails and frogs legs sound tame.
    Sam recently posted..Bryce Canyon National Park in a DayMy Profile

    • Yeah, I really wasn’t expecting to like it that much :)

  4. I’ll try anything once but only things I enjoy twice! 😛
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Nomadic Samuel’s A-Z of Travel MisfortunesMy Profile

    • That’s good way to approach things… Balut surprisingly is on my list of things I enjoy twice :)

  5. Yum! Balut IS good, if you can get over the initial ick factor.

    If you have travel companions who can’t, have them eat it inside the cinema. That’s what some of my friends do (and they’re Filipino!) LOL
    yols recently posted..Bacolod Cansi on Flickr.Currently dreaming of melt-in-your-mouth…My Profile

    • haha :) I never thought of that!

  6. You are a brave soul! :)

    I could never eat it .. but I love the fact that you did and even found it good. Great story! :)
    cheryl recently posted..Christmas Markets: Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz.My Profile

    • I love food too much, so I am afraid I’ll miss out on something 😉

  7. i don’t think i could open it & analyze it like you did. i’d just have to shoot it down. i’ve warned my nephew [half japanese half filipino] that if we ever made it to the phillipines together i was going FORCE him to try balut. :)
    jenjenk recently posted..Photo Friday: Japanese Wedding Couple in Traditional DressMy Profile

    • hehe :) It was already quite late so I was unable to take too detailed photos 😉 Which I think worked out quite well, be warned if you google balut, you will find a lot more graphic stuff!!

      He should try it! You would be doing him a huge favor, albeit one he might not appreciate beforehand! :)

  8. I think of myself as an adventurous eater but this would give me pause!
    robin recently posted..Gran BretañaMy Profile

  9. It is interesting and funny. There are always so many different curious kinds of foods in the world, I have not seen this kind of food. I do know whether I dare to eat it. 😀
    Sophia recently posted..Forex Robots Are DangerousMy Profile

  10. Ugh. :)
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Desperately Seeking SantaMy Profile

  11. I lived in the Philippines in 1999 and I tried balut at a bus stop once. It’s one of the few things in my life that I have actually spit out.
    Ayngelina recently posted..How I will remember 2011My Profile

    • I suppose it’s not to everyones taste then, but then again there probably isn’t a food that everybody would like.

  12. I was in the Philippines last December. I really wanted to try balut, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. After reading this I’m sorry I didn’t.
    Matt Gibson recently posted..Five Urban Adventures in LondonMy Profile

    • It did take some peer pressure to get me try it also. And yes, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did :)

  13. If you have travel companions who can’t, have them eat it inside the cinema. That’s what some of my friends do (and they’re Filipino!) LOL

    • inside the cinema? interesting :) Might have to try that 😉