Pateros Balut

Balut.

That much-loved, much-maligned Filipino delicacy: favorite of beer drinkers all over the country, degree zero for culinary nastiness, and the dreaded food test for the Kano or the sozy Fil-Am. It’s the “treat with feet” or the “egg with legs”.

This is how you say Balut: Ba-lut. Your lips gently press together at the beginning, your tongue flicks quickly up towards your palate, your lips move as one in the shape of a narrow ooo, and ends with your tongue teasingly poking behind your teeth.

This is, however, in contrast to how balut is sold in the Philippines, by ambulant vendors who yell in the streets, “Ba-luuuuuuuuuut!”

But there is nothing sensual per se about balut; it is, after all, an aborted duck fetus. As opposed to, say, eating an ordinary chicken egg with yolk and all, the balut is already fertilized and ready to go, as it were, with an actual, healthy, living duck embryo (incubated up to 18 days in a hatchery). And this where, of course, the balut gets its notoriety: the duck really looks like a duck, eyes, pink little limbs, gray feathers, useless beak and all.

Duck embryo in the shell,
I pluck you out of the shell; –
Hold you here, beak and all, in my hand,

They were usually sold by gaunt, gray-haired women who would squat by the side of the road. The balut would be swaddled in cloth, and nestled in an old wicker basket; the vendor would carefully unwrap the rolled-up blanket that kept the eggs warm, give us a thimbleful of salt in a twist of recycled graphing paper, and count the payment in the light of the candle anchored with melted wax on the pavement.

Balut is also known as an energizer to those who need strength or aphrodisiac to others.

Balut-Making is considered the major tourist attraction in Pateros. The very famous industry has been handed down from generation and shares about 23.0% of the whole Pateros industry. Balut makers are mostly from Barangay Aguho. Mallard duck locally known as ‘Pateros itik’ (Anas platyrynchos) is commonly used by duck farmers in the Philippines in producing balut.

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