The Illegal, Maggot-Infested Cheese Andrew Zimmern Loves

This just in: chef Andrew Zimmern thoroughly enjoys maggot-infested cheese.

If you know Zimmern from the hit show Bizarre Foods, this may not come as a shock. His whole career has been based on traveling the world and trying local delicacies that may not pop up in every culture. While we totally respect it, we're going to give you a heads up: If you've got a queasy stomach, you're going to want to prepare yourself before you read all about this queso.

In a recent tweet, Zimmern gushed about one of his favorite foodie adventures yet: trying casu marzu — aka the Italian translation for a wheel of cheese filled with maggot larvae (via The Culture Trip). Yum.

Zimmern addressed his unashamed love for the controversial cheese in a reply to NPR host Roben Farzad, boldly claiming that "anyone who loves cheese would love real Casu Marzu." We have just one question for you, Zimmern: What if we love cheese, but hate, y'know, the maggots?

Casu marzu is a forbidden Italian cheese that'll make your skin crawl

Casu marzu quite literally translates to "rotten cheese," which doesn't sound all that appetizing, but Zimmern promises it is. The cheese rose from a poverty meal to utter popularity over the years — mostly in part to its rich, spicy flavor and smooth texture — but it has certainly carried many health risks along the way (via The Culture Trip).

The article explains that casu marzu is created through a "painstaking" process. First, a wheel of sheep's milk (or pecorino) cheese is left to sit out and slowly decompose. Afterward, holes are cut in the cheese, which invites flies to come lay eggs inside. The maggots ooze a digestive enzyme that makes the cheese especially creamy and spreadable. Traditionally, the maggots are left inside even when it's time to spread some of the cheese on a cracker or dish, but this is where health experts weigh in: If you don't fully chew the bugs, they could make their way into your digestive system...and potentially even lead to death.

The controversial history of casu marzu has only made it more popular over time

As Zimmern mentioned in his tweet, this Sardinian pecorino has a long-winded history that means it's "not available commercially." As a matter of fact, it's illegal, and we have a feeling that its 2009 title as Guinness World Record's Most Dangerous Cheese might have something to do with that (via Total Sardinia).

The Outline reports that casu marzu was outlawed in 1962 because of its aforementioned health risks. If you're caught in Italy with a wheel of larvae-infested cheese, you can face a fine as hefty as €50,000, or even a year in jail. Many still make the delicacy in the comfort of their own home because of how much the black market cheese is worth — the outlet explains that an infested wheel goes for three times as much as a regular wheel — but it's certainly kept on the down-low.

Despite all of the above, Zimmern has long preached about the pure deliciousness that is illegal casu marzu. While the cheese is native to Italy, the chef notes on his website that it can be found all over the world. He writes, "I have tried them on two continents and absolutely adore the stuff. I'll bet most of you would agree with me if you tried it." Debatable, Zimmern.