Arnon Grunberg



One of my mother’s caregivers, a lovely girl from the Philippines, told me about a culinary specialty from her homeland. Well she not only told me about it, she showed me the specialty: a fertilized chicken egg.
She opened the egg for me in my mother’s kitchen, call me a wimp but it looked horrifying.
I was pleasantly surprised to read a review by Pete Wells on two Philippine restaurants in New York City, because now I know more about this delicacy:

‘“Ba-luuuut!” The word volleys from Jeepney’s kitchen to its dining room as a server carries the hard-boiled duck egg to a man at the bar.
“Ba-luuuuuuuuuuut!” Grabbing the customer’s hand, she whacks the flesh between his thumb and forefinger with a tablespoon to demonstrate the force needed to crack the balut’s shell. Then she prepares him for what he’ll find inside.
Right on top, she says, is “a really smoky chicken broth.” Under that is the white, hard-boiled, and the yolk. “And down at the bottom, there’s E.T.” The extraterrestrial is a two- or three-week-old duckling that will never hatch, a ball of spindly legs and tucked wings and fine threads of feathers. The unabashed embrace of a delicacy with major freakout potential is typical of the deep-end approach of Jeepney, a self-described “Filipino gastro pub” in the East Village.’

(Read the complete review here.)

E.T. – that’s how the chicken embryo in my mother’s kitchen had looked like, a very young E.T.

Give me some time and I’ll be ready to eat E.T.

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