World's Most Dangerous Foods
Casu Marzu, Sardinia
Threat: “Enteric myiasis,” a nasty gastric ailment
It may not be lethal, but this cheese is intimidating enough to scare away many a foodie. At first blush, it’s just an Italian sheep’s-milk pecorino cheese, which some liken to Gorgonzola in taste. But look closer: the cheese is also alive…with maggots. Part of the cheese-making process here involves leaving the early-stage cheese exposed, so that cheese flies can land and hatch eggs, which act as a catalyst for fermentation. The EU has banned the cheese for—well, why wouldn’t you ban it? But fans insist that it’s fine as long as the maggots are still squirming, and that the cheese has only “gone bad” if the little guys are dead. Even though it’s illegal, you can reportedly still buy casu marzu on the sly from shepherds in Sardinia. Locals have been known to trot out the cheesy delicacy for parties and special occasions (or even as an aphrodisiac)—with perhaps the precaution of donning eye wear, since the maggots reportedly can jump up to six inches out of the cheese. Pass the crackers!
Prognosis: When the maggots are eaten alive, they can actually survive the trip through your stomach and set up camp in your intestines, burrowing into the lining and causing vomiting, diarrhea, and serious cramps before they make their way out on the other side. The good news: they almost always make it out all on their own, without any medical intervention.