Teaching Students About Casu Marzu

When it comes to teaching students about unique food traditions, exploring the world of cheese with maggots can be an unexpected and memorable lesson. Casu marzu, a traditional Sardinian cheese, is famous for its unique production process which involves fly larvae. This article will delve into the history, production, and cultural significance of this unusual cheese, providing teachers with a fascinating topic to share with their students.

History of Casu Marzu:

Casu marzu, also known as “rotten cheese” or “maggot cheese,” has been a part of Sardinian tradition for centuries. Made from sheep’s milk, this cheese finds its roots in the pastoral culture of the Mediterranean island. Historically, casu marzu was consumed during special occasions such as weddings or other celebrations.

Production Process:

Casu marzu begins its life as pecorino cheese. After reaching a certain level of fermentation, producers introduce the larvae of the Piophila casei fly into the cheese. They then cut off the top layer of the cheese rind to allow flies easy access to lay their eggs. The larvae feed on the cheese, breaking down its fats and proteins in a process called proteolysis. As they devour and digest the cheese, it becomes softer and develops its distinctive flavor and texture.

Teaching Students About Cheese with Maggots:

1. Begin by providing an overview of Sardinian culture and history, allowing students to understand the context behind this unique delicacy.

2. Discuss traditional cheese-making techniques used in Sardinia and compare them with those used for casu marzu.

3. Introduce students to the concept of fermentation in food production, explaining how it plays a crucial role in creating casu marzu.

4. Explain the role of Piophila casei flies in the production process, and how their larvae contribute to the cheese’s distinct characteristics.

5. Explore the cultural significance of casu marzu in Sardinian celebrations and traditions.

6. Discuss modern perceptions and controversies surrounding this unique cheese, including legal battles over its production and sale.


Teaching students about cheese with maggots offers an engaging way to explore historical and cultural aspects of food production. Casu marzu serves as a fascinating example of how regional traditions can lead to innovative methods of crafting unique delicacies. By understanding the history, production process, and significance of this unorthodox cheese, students will gain valuable insights into the diverse world of culinary traditions.

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