The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Mastering the Art of Filipino Part 3 – The Final Exam

If you’ve been following this series of posts, you’ll know that I successfully found a way to cook bitter melon that doesn’t lead to me yakking up lunch and we roasted a whole (albeit suckling) pig.  But there’s still one challenge that eluded me, like Mt Everest eluded Captain Ahab, confounding him for eternity.

For all my bragging about being a worldly foodie, there was still one thing that I couldn’t eat.  And the worst part is that, as a kid, I used to eat it on the regular.  But somewhere along the line I lost my taste for it.  I tried a couple years ago but, even with a giant shot of tequila in my stomach and the burden of intense pressure from my brother, I still couldn’t do it.

What is “it?”


It’s “The snack that quacks” or “The treat that tweets.”  Although I’m hereby adopting that second one as my nickname.  As soon as I can figure out what the hell I’m doing on Twitter.

Now I had an opportunity to make things right.

It was at the same family reunion where we roasted the piglet.  Group texts were going around about the pig and one of us brought up the subject of getting some Balut.  It started off as an innocent joke but, given we’re a bunch of male idiots, the taunting and posturing started to escalate.  Finally my brother Panhead from NYC said that he could bring some.  There was an eerie text silence that was broken when yours truly said , “Sure! Get a dozen!”

Ugh.  I didn’t think he would.

Knowing his cheap-assed self I figured he’d head out to Central Park and raid some duck nests.  After either striking out or getting questioned by the 5-0 he’d give up.  But I somehow forgot he lived close to Chinatown.  Double ugh.

balut dozen


When he said he scored some, we thought there was NO WAY he’d get it through airport security.  Think about it – you can’t even bring a snow globe on a plane.  Can you imagine the look of total horror on the TSA agent’s face when he saw the x-ray of 12 little duckling fetuses?  We were assuming the TSA would see that mayhem in his backpack and give Panhead a 3-knuckle-deep body cavity search.

Well, he got through so it was apparent that this was going to be happen.  Out came the tequila.  But since that wasn’t enough for me the last time, I insisted on a few rounds of beer pong first.

Now we were ready.

There were only six of us on that original group text that said we’d do it.  (OK, only 2 said we’d do it – the rest were trying to hide.)  But last I checked there are twelve eggs in a dozen and there’s no way in duck hell I would eat two. So we tried to recruit other suckers eaters. What shocked me the most was that the older generation of Filipinos – ones that spent half their lives there before coming to the States – refused to participate.   I think it was my mom that said something to the effect of “there’s a reason we left the old country.”

So we pulled the “respect your elders” card and coerced some of the college-aged kids to do it.  Mind you, these are kids who barely eat seafood.  The only ones I felt the slightest tinge of guilt about where Shady and his girlfriend.  They weren’t even blood-related or anywhere near Filipino.

It was time.  First, a toast.

balut toast

That’s me on the right.


It wasn’t looking good for my brother.  He didn’t even take a bite yet.

balut down the hatch


He was the only failure of the night.  I was still chewing when I heard the garbage disposal turning on behind me.

balut fail


There was also a lot of wincing.

balut wince 2 balut wince 3 balut wince 4


Surprisingly, Shady’s girlfriend downed it with no problem.  Cool as a cucumber –

balut shady


But in the end, we did it.  And what did it taste like?

One word – VICTORY!

balut victory 1 Balut victory 2 balut victory 4*


About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

14 comments on “Mastering the Art of Filipino Part 3 – The Final Exam

  1. elizabeth
    March 5, 2014

    Duckling fetus! So…what is it like? Or would you rather not relive it? 🙂

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 5, 2014

      There were 3 components. You start by drinking the broth/amniotic fluid. You can see me do that in the 1st pic. That was actually pretty good – deep, earthy, duck broth. The other two are the yolk and actual fetus. The yolk is like a regular egg, but a little richer.

      As for the body, we were a little lucky as they weren’t as well formed – no crunchy legs or feathers. We were pretty much concentrating on downing it as fast as we could so it’s hard to say.

  2. The Dutchman
    March 5, 2014

    Just say No!!!!!

  3. the drunken cyclist
    March 5, 2014

    Nah. Stee.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 5, 2014

      Ve. Ry. I’m sure there are some Asian markets of questionable reputation in Philly. Get a few for you and Ollie!

  4. PinotNinja
    March 5, 2014

    I wish I could pretend to be all appalled and squeamish but one time I ate a fist full of live, wriggling minnows.

    At the after party at my own wedding.

    At least there were no beaks and claws?

    Oh champagne, the things you make me do…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 5, 2014

      oof…you win because they were still moving. I’ve heard of single goldfish, but not a fist full of minnows. (which is a terrific name for a band) Once again proving that you’re classy-adjacent.

  5. dwdirwin
    March 5, 2014

    But has Andrew Zimmer ever had it on his show? 🙂

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 5, 2014

      I’m almost certain yes.. And it was on Fear Factor a couple years ago. It’s usually tops on any list of most disgusting foods worldwide

  6. Salty Sweet Life
    March 7, 2014

    Nothing gives me the culinary shivers more than Balut! I find it funny that you didn’t say what it actually tasted like (other than victory)!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 7, 2014

      Haha, have you seen it in person?

      And yeah, I realize that victory isn’t really helpful. IF you scroll up I did describe it in a response to another comment.

      • Salty Sweet Life
        March 7, 2014

        I’ve only seen in on TV and that’s about as close as I’d like to get! lol! Good on you for giving it a try!

  7. wineandhistory
    March 9, 2014

    Yuck! I would not have opted in…

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2014 by in Cooking and tagged , , , , , , .
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