As weird as these real-world horror stories get, I never thought I'd write a headline like that. But, as they say, truth is often stranger than fiction... and sometimes it's way more disgusting too, especially when it comes to the Italian cheese called casu marzu.
Photo: Shardan/Wikimedia Commons
Produced in Sardinia, this fermented sheep's milk cheese is actually banned in the European Union, and for damn good reason: it's considered toxic in its natural state, and only becomes non-toxic when it's served with live maggots – that is, the larvae of the cheese fly (species Piophila casei). If that image isn't enough to send you screaming for the exit, apparently the people who are insane enough to take a bite of this stuff run the risk of those maggots leaping up into their faces to chow down on their eyeballs.
So why again do people actually eat this stuff? Well, it's believed by locals to be a potent aphrodisiac... so yeah, of course. Those who love casu marzu, but can't deal with that whole maggots-in-your-eyes thing, wrap the cheese in a paper bag until the larvae suffocate; during this process the bugs' frantic jumping makes a "popcorn-popping" sound inside the bag.
I have no way of knowing whether the late, great Lucio Fulci (well known for his cinematic eyeball and maggot fetishes) might have enjoyed casu marzu, but I can totally picture him serving it to his guests.