Kim Nelson: How to Eat the World’s Grossest Food

8183972844_3a84b1646b_oBalut often tops internet lists of the world’s grossest delicacies. A fertilized duck egg that is hard-boiled with a developing fetus still inside, balut is sold in the Philippines by street vendors and upscale restaurants alike. It is most commonly eaten during a night of drinking, like a Pacific Islander version of Flash Taco. Though considered a delicacy, many filipinos and non-filipinos alike are grossed out by this savory, feathery treat. If you would like to try balut, here are some handy tips.

  • Have a friend travel to the local filipino store to pick up some balut to bring to a potluck party. In our case, our friend Thomas, who is half filipino, ran this fateful errand. When he picked up a dozen eggs the clerk asked him “You know what that is, right?”
  • It’s going to be hard to gear yourself up for this culinary challenge, especially once you’ve seen a balut egg cracked open to reveal the tiny duck body inside, complete with developed beak. The first brave soul at the party to take the balut challenge ended up immediately vomiting. The secret is: don’t look at it before you eat it.
  • Make a drunken, bravado-filled public announcement that you are going to try balut. This will prevent you from being able to back out at the last minute. I believe that my own announcement involved some inebriated ramblings about getting back to my filipino roots and that white people are afraid of “keepin’ it real.”
  • Once your stomach is nice and primed with bravery-boosting Miller High Lifes, select your duck egg from the carton. Peel half of the shell away over a garbage can, as it will be juicy. Make sure that your sleeves are pushed down so you don’t get duck fetus juice on your party finery. When everyone has their iPhones set in place for photo and video documentation, take your first bite.
  • Surprise! It’s not that bad. Honestly, it tastes like a hardboiled egg with a little more, uh, texture. A little salt, maybe a nice mustard dipping sauce, and you’ve got yourself an exotic drinking treat that even the local hipsters haven’t heard of yet. Enjoy the rest of your meal, and don’t think too hard about where the crunchiness is coming from. Follow immediately with more Miller High Lifes.
  • After the party, go home and have sweet dreams. As long as you prepared correctly with the appropriate amount of pre- and post-balut beer, the grislier details of the balut will become, to quote the Ducktales theme song, a duck blur.



  1. I once sent that picture into a radio show’s host who was talking about the weirdest foods he tried on vacation. He called me “a horrible friend” for labeling the eggs with people’s names to peer pressure them into eating them.

  2. If you ever need to buy balut, some of the Viet grocery stores such as Tai Nam at Argyle sell them as well since they also eat it. Like you said in your post, it’s best not to look at it while you eat it (my ex, who is Viet, said he would not look at it and did his best to ignore the feathers). Your post has inspired me to think about taking another chance on balut (my first experience at 13 was traumatizing).

    1. Haha, you definitely have to ignore the feathers! Give it another try; it tastes like a hardboiled egg. Just close your eyes, and some liquid courage helps too 🙂

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