Dumaguete City, Philippines
Joseph's friend Christina gave me an "out" the day before. While bagoong-eating is often considered the test of a "true Filipino," she said, balut-eating is not required. Plenty of Filipinos forego the delicacy.
In Dumaguete every evening, balut-sellers line up under the street lights of Rizal Avenue next to the sea wall. People sit at make-shift stools and tables, drink a refreshing beverage, and eat balut served from the warm baskets of the balut vendors. Every evening, the area is teaming with foreigners, Filipino tourists, and locals. In places like Manila, I read online, balut-eating is declining as the rising middle class view balut as peasant food. But it still seems very popular here in the Visayas.
Ironically, a pearl-wearing American retiree, the lovely Joanne, offered me the most helpful advice about finding the best balut in town. "You've got to go to the seller right across from Bethel on Rizal Avenue. He sells balut at 16 days. Some of the other vendors sell younger balut and it's like you're eating a boiled egg. You've got to have the embryo developed some to get the best flavors." A balut connoisseur!
So that's where we ended up on our next-to-last night in the Philippines.
Warm balut in hand, I cracked a hole in the top.
(Photos by Christina Newhard. Thanks, Christina!)