Letter to the Editor: Eating balut

This letter was written in response to the article “Disney star Cole Sprouse eats a duck fetus” in the Nov. 14 issue.

 

By Nicole Magno

Kumusta ka. I am a student at TCNJ who eats duck fetuses and no, I do not have to be sent to a mental hospital.

In my culture, balut is a popular staple dish. It is an egg with a fertilized duck inside the yoke that one can often find at local street vendors in the Philippines. It is often boiled like any other egg and can be eaten by itself, sprinkled with salt, dipped in vinegar, fried as an omelette, or cooked adobo style. It is incredibly hardy, quick to cook and nutritious, which is a perfect combination for many of the workers in the Philippines. For those curious, balut tastes like crab, only stronger, and goes great with a cold bottle of beer.

Balut is a staple food in some cultures’ diets. (yelp.com)

While the article about Cole and duck fetuses is intended to be in good fun, it is at the expense of a culture and cultures who find eating balut a “normal” part of their everyday life and are, frankly, tired of their ethnic foods being viewed as a spectacle for the “abnormal.” It is also at the expense of someone who dreaded going to middle school lunch because her fellow peers would stupidly point and screech, “Is that dog meat you’re eating?”

If the article was intended to be satire then it failed to expose the ridiculous amounts of attention we adhere to celebrity actions and instead reinforces the detrimental notion that people who eat a certain type of food are barbaric, or, in this case, insane. No where in the article do I find this age-old belief challenged. Rather than critiquing our problematic attitudes towards different foods (alongside our fixation with celebrity news), and having us laugh at our ridiculous fears regarding difference, we laugh, instead, at Cole. We laugh, instead, at people like me who have painfully been alienated from this country, and this campus, because of her language, her culture and her food. For one, I am glad that Cole is an adventurous eater according to the article. Food is a great harmonizer and often a fun way to share and educate each other about our different cultures (while satisfying a hungry stomach).

So, until you have sat down in the front porch of your lola’s house to enjoy the hot Manila night with your ates and kuyas by cracking open a beer with your balut , then please do not judge an entire population of peoples, whose ethnic foods may be different from your so called “normal food,” as clinically insane. I swear, after centuries of eating balut, we are still okay. Maraming salamt.