Su Casu marzu, translated 'rotten cheese', is a sheep's milk cheese that was created centuries ago by mistake in Sardinia and continues to be produced today in a controlled environment. It is colonised by the larvae of the Piophila casei cheese fly (small), which lays its eggs inside the sheep's milk cheese wheel and from which are born hundreds of larvae that feed on the cheese itself and use their enzymes to transform the protein content of the cheese, changing it into a soft, sweet and slightly spicy cream. The rind is removed from the cheese, which usually protects it, and it is left to ripen in the dark and warm, turning the wheel occasionally and salting it less than necessary to encourage infestation. Maturation takes place between 1 and 3 months and the production period is from March to September.
The cheese is ripe when the larvae have diminished in number, then the upper part of the wheel, the hair, is removed, and inside is the typical cream with its unique and unmistakable flavour. It finds its perfect accompaniment, spread on carasau bread and washed down with a nice glass of Cannonau wine.
Casu Marzu is one of the cheeses that have become a true gourmet product, as has gorgonzola. After a period of illegality due to the unhealthiness attributed to it, Casu Marzu was enrolled on the national PAT (Prodotti Agroalimentari Tradizionali - Traditional Food Products) register, which certifies the use of the same ingredients and the same processing and maturing phases for at least 25 years. And thanks to this registration, a derogation was obtained that allows the production of the same cheese, thus remaining a product in perfect balance between illegal and legal. A DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta - Protected Designation of Origin) mark has been applied for from the European Union to protect its designation of origin.