Much ado about balut

by Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Apr 10 2015 07:31 PM | Updated as of Apr 11 2015 04:36 AM

So someone sent me this email, asking me to sign a petition. It screamed: "Urge New York restaurant to stop serving balut – unborn duck fetus!"

The petition was launched on YouSignAnimals.org. Because I believe in free expression, here’s the link for those who want to sign the petition.

Here’s the text of Gabrielle Hardy’s petition:

"Maharlika, a restaurant in Manhattan, New York is selling what seems to be the strangest food one can possibly eat in the Big Apple. The name of the dish is called balut. It’s essentially a hard boiled egg that contains a partially formed duck fetus inside. In other words, the baby duck has not yet even been born!

The official name you will find on the menu is ‘fertilized duck egg with embryo’

A team from ‘Business Insider’ met with Nicole Ponseca, the restaurant’s owner, and learned how to eat and enjoy this dish. The owner is really proud of selling this food, claiming it is delicious and full of vitamins and proteins essential to humans.

A team from ‘Business Insider’ met with Nicole Ponseca, the restaurant’s owner, and learned how to eat and enjoy this dish. The owner is really proud of selling this food, claiming it is delicious and full of vitamins and proteins essential to humans.

The truth is that this food is disgusting an should not be served in restaurant. I am therefore asking the restaurant to get balut off the menu as soon as soon as possible!

Sign now if you find this food disgusting and distasteful!"

Well….

I don’t eat balut. To be accurate, I love the juicy part of balut and the yolk. But I can’t eat a little dead bird, cannot stand the thought of slurping bones and feathers and claws.

Most products in the Philippines are 17 days old, thus missing these body parts. Still, I have this runaway imagination. So I prefer penoy, which is nine to 12 days old and only contains the yolk.

But hey, I don’t kid myself. It’s the same animal.

Now, every egg sold contains a yolk. Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition:

1) the yellow spheroidal mass of stored food that forms the inner portion of the egg of a bird or reptile and is surrounded by the white — see egg illustration

2) the whole contents of an animal ovum consisting of a protoplasmic formative portion and an inert nutritive portion

3) material stored in an animal ovum that supplies food to the developing embryo and consists chiefly of proteins, lecithin, and cholesterol

Maybe it isn’t exactly an “embryo.” But to life-begins-when-sperm-meets-egg folks, the yolk represents a life nipped in the bud. Check out the arguments against pills, though I suspect a lot of these good folks probably pop an egg or two a day.

The problem is, the petition doesn’t state its philosophical stand.

“Disgusting” and “distasteful” is not a good enough excuse to run people (or establishments) out of town.

If it’s really all about animal rights, why doesn’t the petition mention pigs squealing as they’re butchered, or cows stuffed until they’re ready for the sharp knives? Or chickens and ducks being gutted? Or hunters shooting animals?

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.