The Tales of Two Sisters by Aurelia D. Blight

Last Christmas my sister, my daughter and myself went back to the Philippines to spend the holidays there. The majority of the Filipinos are Roman Catholic, and Christmas which symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ means so much to us. Christmas calls for a big celebration where there are lots of foods, socializing and laughter. There are lots of Filipino delicacies but there was one famous dish that creates too much controversy for Filipinos and foreigners alike.

I am referring to the famous delicacy that we call balut. Balut is a duck egg. It is an incubated egg with developed embryo between 16 to 17 days, boiled in a salted water for at least one hour. This is the ideal number of days that the eggs will be incubated, beyond that the duck fetus is too big to be eaten. The egg incubation is usually done by putting the duck eggs in an controlled warm environment using a straw cylinder.

Many people believed that balut is a special dish. Eating it will energize you. Night shift workers usually eat balut before they go to their respective jobs. Balut is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. Some people also say that it has a healing power, that if you're sick, eat it and you will feel better.

My sister and I haven't had balut for a long time, three years exactly. We decided we are going to buy it as soon as it will be available. It is being sold by peddlers in the streets shouting balut. Balut is considered a safe food because it is thoroughly cooked and the shell of the egg protects the inside so it is clean. One more thing is that the way to eat it is when it is hot. You don't eat it when it is cold. Since living in the Unites States, I don't know what will be my reaction or what my sister's reaction will be. Our taste buds have definitely changed but we don't know the extent of it. The moment of truth came one night.

The way to eat balut is to crack a little at the tip of the shell to create an opening or a little hole. From there you start eating it. As I started cracking the tip of the shell and some part of the egg became exposed to me, something different came over me. My mouth became watery and I felt like I'm going to hyperventilate especially when I saw the fetus. I realized, I couldn't handled it, it turned my stomach. I looked at my sister and she's happily munching it, all of it. She even asked me if she can have mine which I gladly handed her. I realized that balut is not for me anymore. I have changed and my years of living in the United States had affected my taste buds. I guess this is the end of balut for me. I think I will never try to eat it again. As for my sister, balut still holds a special place with her.

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