A rare cheese

Are you adventurous when it comes to food? Watch this video about a famous Italian food – would you be brave enough to try it?

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. You can also read the transcript.


Presenter: On the Italian island of Sardinia, there's a delicacy that's been consumed for thousands of years. It is known as the world's most dangerous cheese. Yeah, you heard right.

Meet Simone Ibba, a third-generation sheep farmer.

Simone Ibba (in Italian): We have about 250 or 300 sheep that produce milk. We use some of this milk to make a cheese called casu marzu.

Presenter: Casu marzu literally means 'rotten cheese', and it's not for the faint of heart. Because this cheese is infested with thousands of live maggots. And while that might seem a bit off-putting at first, it's the maggots that give the cheese its distinctive texture and flavour. Here's how it works.

First, a traditional wheel of pecorino cheese is made from sheep's milk. Then, a special fly, called the cheese fly, is allowed to lay its eggs in it.

Simone Ibba (in Italian): In about 40 days, the cheese wheel will be completely invaded by cheese flies and their larvae.

Presenter: Over the course of two to three months, the maggots eat the cheese and then excrete it out again – transforming it into the soft and creamy casu marzu.

Simone Ibba (in Italian): The spicy, different, tasty, doughy flavour comes from the work that the fly does.

Presenter: Today, it's a favourite for special occasions like weddings and birthday parties. But eating this cheese can be dangerous.

Simone Ibba (in Italian): Some people think that the larvae will continue to live inside you. It's not like that. Otherwise, we'd be full of maggots because we've eaten them for a lifetime.

Presenter: Even though cases like this are extremely rare, it's risky enough that the cheese is illegal to sell. But farmers like Simone continue to make it for themselves.

Simone Ibba (in Italian): Few people know how to make casu marzu cheese any more, but I've always known it; my grandmother knew it, my grandfathers, my uncles.

Presenter: And they just can't get enough.

Simone Ibba (in Italian): Casu marzu cheese with prosciutto and a slice of melon – it's to die for.

© Great Big Story


Worksheet91.41 KB

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Submitted by Yuri on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 11:07

so yummy! I love this special cheese, trust me! the flavor is special, unique one!

Submitted by Yanylia on Sat, 09/11/2019 - 22:38

Hello everyone! I want to tell you a funny story about casu marzu. It was happened many years ago. My mother-in-law worked for one Italian family. One day she was clearing out the house and she saw cheese with worms. She decided it was spoiled. And she throw it away. It turned out, it was the precious Sardinian cheese. My mother-in-law was very surprised about that weird cheese and Italians were laughing at the situation. I have been living in this island for some years, but I have not desire to taste this cheese=) The phrase 'not for the faint of heart' is about me.

Submitted by anasmtmana on Thu, 12/09/2019 - 08:12

Yes. I am from Egypt and we have an old age traditional cheese called "old cheese". It is very famous. Some times the dense liquid, which is the most important ingredient is 50 or more years old! The liquid it self is made by mixing a quantity of old liquid mixed with some curd and a salty component extracted from margarine. then It is ready for cheese to be put inside the liquid for at least one month to be ready for eating. the longer the cheese stay inside the liquid, the more quality and delicacy it will. The miracle is that the cheese could be kept inside the liquid for many years without being kept by any fridge system and still freash and ready for eat!

Submitted by Khalido on Wed, 28/08/2019 - 10:31

In Morocco we have a similar one called "SMEN"

Submitted by Tricha on Tue, 20/08/2019 - 02:00

yes, an ant that is called Nucu

Submitted by Kevinkev on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 05:57

yes , an insect called harurwa . It can be poisionus if wrongly prepared
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