MANILA, Philippines – A petition that has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures seeks to remove the Asian delicacy balut from Maharlika, a popular New York City Filipino restaurant. (READ: Should a New York restaurant stop serving balut?)
For those who are not familiar with it, balut is regarded as an acquired taste snack by Filipinos and other Asians, and one of the most feared by those who’ve never eaten a partially matured duck egg.
The egg is believed to be a source of strength and virility, but that isn’t enough to convince those with weaker stomachs to swallow the bird peering out from the eggshell, the first thing you see when you crack it open.
The balut controversy appears to be a clash of cultures. While some people in western countries may find the food “inhumane” or even “disgusting,” balut is an important fabric in the cuisine of several Asian cultures.
Netizens had strong opinions about the petition.
“I don’t eat balut myself but I wouldn’t sign the petition, which cuts too close to cultural insensitivity,” said US resident Kristine Sydney. She adds, “There’s a huge difference between the animal cruelty of foie gras and shark fin soup and what this petitioner calls the animal cruelty of balut.”
In the comment section, Annyare said, “As of I’ve known, balut are duck eggs wherein the baby ducks died before hatching so instead of being discarded as waste they are used to serve as food/snacks.” So “therefore I don’t see anything wrong about it, maybe some people just ‘say’ it’s balut (based on my definition) but it’s not.”
Luisito Chavez highlighted what he believes is an underlying problem in the balut controversy, “This shows the status of racism in the US.”
He said, “balut is in fact an acquired taste mostly for Filipinos and some Southeast asian nations.” And “in the Philippines we have a saying that goes with eating the balut ‘Kung hindi mo kaya, eh di wag mong kainin’ If you dont have the stomach for it, then don’t eat it….” It’s just as simple as that… you don’t need to post it out loud.”
On Facebook, Angela Set made a simpler analogy as to why the petition should be junked, “We eat chicken, we eat eggs. Eating balut is just like eating them both… food is every country’s signature.”
One Filipino shared the same opinion of the petitioner, saying she also finds it “disgusting” but added, “It’s simple. if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Don’t eat it! These people ( petitioner and those who signed it ) are overreacting.”
Do you agree or disagree with these netizens? What is your take on the balut controversy? Continue the conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below. – Rappler.com
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