|Peeling a fertilised balut egg, while trying to hold down my nausea|
© Marge Francia/2012/Philippines
I’ve been coming to the Philippines for three years, as part of my work for UNICEF. In my spare time, I’ve visited archipelagos of limestone islands off Palawan and dived with thresher sharks. I’ve climbed an active volcano at Taal and marvelled at the view from the rim, while trying to ignore the sulphurous smell. And I’ve visited the 2,000-year-old rice terraces high up in the remote tribal mountains of Luzon. But each time I managed to avoid eating balut.
However, I’m now writing a travel book about the country and trying to get beneath the skin of its culture. Eating balut is considered a rite of passage to becoming an honorary Filipino and I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever. Finally, I gave in. “OK, let’s do it,” I said to my Filipina friend Marge when I visited this February. ”I’m ready to eat balut.”