I have never been gastronomically adventurous. About eight years ago, I tried to challenge this by joining a press junket to Paete, Laguna to sample dishes at a restuarant known for serving food out of the ordinary. For lunch, I had, among other things, frogs’ legs, a snake, and snails. Perhaps from the stress of digesting all that exotic stuff, I went home and was sick for a week.
Since then, I have stuck to safer food – cornflakes with condensed milk have never let me down. Between The Hub and I, though, it is I who likes to mix up the menu. Ordering at restaurants, The Hub is as predictable as a calendar. The Hooligan gets that from him. The T-Rex eats anything but leaves. He gets that from his nickname.
But I digress. Tonight, desperate for a Week-3 task, I bought balut (a fertilized duck egg carrying a nearly developed embryo). The last time I ate one was when I was pregnant with the T-Rex and was ravenous 24/7. But even then, I only went as far as eating the yellow part. No duckling fetuses for me, thank you. Tonight, I told mysef, would be different. I would eat it all, down to the webbed feet.
As I was getting ready to tap one egg on the table to make a small opening at the pointed end (through which I would suck out the juice), The Hooligan asked me what I was doing.
About to eat the balut, I said.
But what about the baby duck inside, she asked.
I’ll eat that, too, I said.
But you’ll hurt it, she said.
I didn’t know how to explain to her without giving her nightmares that the baby duck was already cooked. And that people eat cooked dead baby ducks all the time.
Let’s just wait for it to hatch, she told me.
Without getting into a discussion of the food chain, I decided to wait until The Hooligan was asleep before I devoured the egg.
Now, she’s asleep and the bowl of balut is on my desk, winking at me as I type. As before, I’ve sucked the juice and eaten the yellow part with no problem. And again, I just can’t get myself to eat the embryo. It grosses me out, it does. But I would’ve gotten over that and gobbled the duck whole, if only to get the damn thing over with. It’s The Hooligan that’s making me hesitate. What would she think tomorrow morning when she jumps out of bed to check if the eggs have hatched only to find out that last night, her evil old mother ate them all?
I will wait, instead, until The Hooligan is a teenager, jaded by facebook, Hollywood, and the Philippine government, before I eat another balut in front of her. Until then, I will have to content myself with a half-baked Week 3.