Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chinese eat dog and bugs... and I (did) to

In China, they publicly eat cooked bugs, chicken heads, dogs and other cuisine not embraced in the Western realms.

At a restaurant I accidently ordered chicken heads once. I left them in my kitchen sink for two days because I A) didn't want to waste perfectly good chicken heads B) didn't want to eat chicken heads.

Not that I am condemning these foods 'with Chinese characteristics'. I enjoyed some rather underwhelming dog soup with a side of chicken hearts, but honestly--the roast cocoons are a little hard to get used to. They cook them like meat, spear six of them on a small metal lance, lay them down on your plate and expect you to dig in.

Of course my Chinese friends do dig in. They use their teeth to rip off the roasted cocoon and use their tongue to pull (what I can only describe as) the white, milky half formed fetus of the bug inside their mouths.

Mmmm... Mmmm.... they say. And I've been here long enough that watching my girlfriend eat a chicken head (yes, literally, a cooked chicken's head) doesn't phase me.

But Tim, my poor friend Tim. Has here only a few days and I introduced him to the extremes of Chinese dining. A normal meal of meat, veggies and insects was set down on the plate in the center of the restuarnat table. Tim, Me, and a Chinese friend. We all picked around what we want.

Me: the beef on the stick was really good
Tim: This cooked fat is delicious
Chinese friend: I'm going to eat some bugs

This made sense to me because Chinese people eat bugs where I live. This did not make sense to Tim. I watched as my Chinese friend used his tongue around the speared cocoon to pull back the outer shell.

Tim literally pushed back and away from the table.

My Chinese friend used his tongue to tug at the bug fetus inside, break it from the spear hold it, and eating. He smiled and went to eat another. He would have kept eating if I hadn't burst out in belly wrenching laugher

Tim's face of disgust is indescribable. If he had been an actor in a movie, he would have won an Oscar. Tim's lips turned down as he tightened his face. His eyes took on a focused look, almost fight-or-flight level, his eyebrows lowered and his lips parted . All of this showed his absolute shock and disgust--but also had a veneer of try to hold back his true emotions. He was thoroughly disgusted and trying not to show it.

But now I think he is better. It's a learning curve ladies and gents. Your culture isn't the same as the culture you're living in. Get ready to eat bugs and catch granny's shitting on the sidewalk. It's China.

But what are you going to do? This is 25% of the world and cocoon doesn't taste so bad.


Idleray said...

Is this a typical thing? My impression that stands with bugs and what not are more to appeal to foreigners and exploit their demand for exotic foods than a genuine Chinese culinary tradition.

As with dogs, I'm thinking that's limited to the south, like in places like Guangdong which is notorious among other Chinese for eating "anything with 4 legs that isn't a table, anything that flies that isn't a plane". The animal rights movement and general disgust for eating cuddly animals is growing in China.

Skizzler said...

Where I am, in North East China, a few hours drive from North Korea, it is a typical thing.

You see a lot of bugs being cooked and eaten by Chinese people in the street. It's not particularly disgusting because they are so normal about it.

As for the animal rights movement in China, it hasn't caught on here and dog is very popular in the Korean restaurants.