How Much Balut Can You Eat?

balut, MaharlikaThink you can scarf down 18 fertilized duck eggs in five minutes? At a block party and Filipino food festival in Brooklyn this past Saturday, Wayne Algenio did just that.

To celebrate its cultural heritage, Maharlika, a Filipino restaurant billing itself as "Filipino moderno," hosted its inaugural balut-eating competition at Dekalb Market, an outdoor shopping and performance destination in Brooklyn. Balut, or fertilized duck egg, is a street food delicacy in the Philippines. After cracking open the wide end of the egg and peeling back the shell, you'll find the partially developed duckling--bones, feathers and eyes--just waiting to be eaten. Enjoyed all over the Philippines (even by Chef Andrew Zimmern), balut is often considered "bizarre", but it is rich in protein and is often said to be an aphrodisiac.

While the event drew a crowd of hungry competitors looking to make a name for themselves, curious spectators looking for something more palatable enjoyed Cebuano lechon, spit-roasted pork that is also a perennial Filipino favorite. Whether eating balut or pork, the attendees seemed pretty pleased with partaking in what seems to be a new tradition.

The Cebuano lechon over hot coals. 

Photos courtesy of Maharlika and Dekalb Market. Cinemagram courtesy of author.