Whenever I think of balut, I think of the egg with legs in old cartoons. A chicken not quite ready to hatch. It’s actually a fertilized developing egg embryo, boiled and eaten from the shell. Some people think they’re always duck eggs, but I’ve seen more balut made from chicken eggs than duck eggs.
Perhaps it started out that way, but it’s now sold in various markets. I remember, back in the 1980s, frequently hearing the street vendors yelling out “balut” as they walked from street to street. I don’t remember hearing it at all after moving to the Philippines in 2006. Perhaps it’s because our house isn’t in Olongapo City proper.
My daughter-in-law, Cathy, loves balut. She found it at Seafood City in Waipahu, one of the many cities we’ve been exploring on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. I don’t know where else it’s sold on the island and I’m not inclined to find out. We go to Seafood City on occasion when she wants fresh fish, dried fish, balut or some other food Filipinos seem to be fond of.
I tried a single balut once in 1983 but couldn’t do anything more than drink the “juice” from inside the shell. It wasn’t the smell or the taste that kept me from finishing. It was the thought of what I was eating. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had a problem with it if I had been drunk at the time, but I was sober. From what I remember, most non-Filipino Americans couldn’t eat it sober back then.
Some Filipino dishes are a quite good and some aren’t good at all. I don’t like bagoong (fermented fish or shrimp paste) or any dish made with it (such as pinakbet). I won’t touch dinuguan (made with pig blood).
Balut is something I will never eat again unless I’m starving to death.
Photo Attribution: Ischaramoochie at English Wikipedia / Public domain
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in March 2020.