What Eating An Actual Duck Fetus Taught Me About Life

Image courtesy of The Food Bible.

Oh, yeah I’m talking about Balut, a delicacy in The Philippines. Commonly sold on the street, Balut can be purchased by pretty much anyone, with many residents ordering three or four to eat at a time.

It’s essentially an unborn duck fetus that’s been developing anywhere from 14–21 days inside the shell.

Because I have many Filipino friends, they (unfortunately) told me all about this 😳.

Despite my best intentions to blast the knowledge that people actually do this from my now-tainted memory, this is one Filipino street legend that seemed to stick with me.

I simply couldn’t understand how people actually devour baby ducks — beak and all — in a matter of seconds.

But, you see, that’s EXACTLY why I needed to try.

And try I did.

In fact, you can watch the entire thing below.

Okay, here’s what it taught me.

1. You Need To Ease Into New Experiences Slowly

I’ll tell you this right now:

If I ate the entire egg in two bites, I would’ve emptied the contents of my stomach immediately.

And that’s putting it lightly.

The helpful people who showed me how to eat this perfectly fine duck that wasn’t allowed to enjoy the beauties of life were wondering how this American boy couldn’t eat the whole thing in two bites.

You need to dip your feet in.

Most Americans wouldn’t even be willing to get anywhere near the metaphorical water on this one, much less dive in headfirst like I did.

You need to take it slow.

The first bite confirmed something to me. It confirmed that my tastebuds wouldn’t be able to translate what this delicacy was trying to communicate to my mouth.

It honestly tasted like unseasoned scrambled egg.

In fact, it tasted like the worst scrambled egg you could possibly imagine (I’m very sorry Filipino friends).

But I’m still happy I tried it.

2. You Can’t Actually Understand New Cultures When You’re Scared

Second, and more importantly, you can’t understand someone until you put yourself in their shoes. Like, actually.

I don’t think it’s right to just stop at traditional Adobo from the Philippines and say you’re cultured. I don’t think it’s right to keep speaking to them in English (especially when they’re your friends) when you can learn THEIR language, too.

If you want to understand a culture, you need to get down and dirty. You can’t just stop at your comfort zones. I have a long way to go in regards to The Philippines, but I’m trying.

And you know what? After I ate this food I kind of understood what they were getting at. It tastes like scrambled egg. It has a couple more textures. And when you throw a ton of salt and vinegar on it, it actually doesn’t taste that bad at all.

3. The Balut’s On Our Hands Too

Guys, most Americans eat major amounts of beef every year. Many of us eat animal meat and products made from animal milk on the daily.

Balut is just a little more developed when you think about it.

It’s irrational to write off something other cultures do just because we don’t understand it.

Most times when we turn the mirror our way, we’ll be able to find something we’re doing that’s equally as bad and/or worse.

4. The Best Way To Gain Common Ground Is To Cross The Bridge First

What I did yesterday hopefully acted as a bridge to something bigger. If I tell real Filipinos that I actually ate Balut, they’ll probably trust me a hell of a lot more because I showed an interest in their culture.

That was really my goal, there.

I wasn’t expecting to eat like a King yesterday; I was hoping to understand their culture just a little bit more.

Could you imagine if people in the world decided to take the FIRST step towards understanding other people more?

Many times we’re not willing to do so. We just kind of stick to our tribes and never deviate outside the norms of where we grew up.

Most times when someone crosses me on the street they have what many have come to know as “resting bitch face.” I’ve found that if I smile at them, they almost always smile back even wider than I did.

Pull up your big boy pants and take the first step a little more often.

5. Most People Are (Hella) Scared Of New Things

Before I say anything, I’ll let you know that I’m definitely scared of new things also.

On one hand, I had a bunch of people message me yesterday playfully asking if I was okay, and wanting to learn a little bit more about what I did.

Then I had people who just straight up told me it was gross and basically wrote me off as some psycho.

I documented what I did for a reason. I wanted to see how people would react. I also wanted to introduce them to something new.

Their reactions were actually kind of shocking to me.

Because most people aren’t up to trying new things, this should give you a pretty big advantage in life if you’re a risk taker.

6. Fear Is Just A Head Game

Before the eggs reached the table, they had to be warmed up first. As the eggs were boiling, I kept freaking myself out.

I didn’t think I could eat the whole thing.

I wondered whether I’d vomit if I saw the beak and the head.

My mind was going a million miles a minute, folks. It felt like the water was never going to reach the boil.

Finally I saw the blue flame go out, and the eggs reached the table soon after.

When it was go-time, I just decided to roll with it.

In the end you’re just swallowing food down into your stomach.

Don’t sweat new experiences. Just roll with it.

Yesterday I did something I never thought I would do in my life. Lots of people told me it was a “Fear Factor” moment or something.

But really all it did was help me feel closer to a community of people I’ve held close to my heart for the last couple of years.

The small things can end up doing so much, and a couple moments of facing your fears might build bridges that years of staying in your comfort zone couldn’t.

That’s why you need to face your fears every chance you get. You never know what it might do for you.

I am a full-time Digital Nomad and travel quite a bit. If you want to learn how to work wherever you want (so you can eat balut yourself), download my ebook called “You Work Where?

If you enjoyed this story, please recommend and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

The Mission publishes stories, videos, and podcasts that make smart people smarter. You can subscribe to get them here.