the stuff that "fear factor" is made of... (caution: vegetarians, proceed at your own risk)
I cannot believe some of the stuff I ate in Beijing's night market. Looking back, it seems like all the crunching, haggling, and gnawing was something out of someone else's travel stories. Maybe there was some sort of hallucinogenic chemical in some of this stuff, I don't know. I'm not sure of the chemistry behind the scorpions...
I consider myself quite an adventurer, and will do nearly anything once. Twice, if it doesn't kill me.
I traveled with a group this time, most of which were keen on trying the crazy stuff that China's food stalls have to offer.
So here's a hint if you want to try some of the crazy stuff seen here and other places:
**Don't do it alone.
It's all pretty safe...probably. If it isn't, your partner/group can catch you when you fall...or fall into seizures.
It's cheaper as well...
AND, going along with that last one, it is not likely that you will want to eat an ENTIRE starfish or all three scorpions by yourself. You save on money and guilt that you're throwing perfectly good food away. Kind of. I mean, there are starving people in Chin....ahem. Let's keep moving, shall we?
We started off with the chicken fetuses previously mentioned in the Great Wall post. Let's repost the picture for posterity, shall we?
Poor chickens. They were so delicious.
The previous night, at our traditional Peking Duck dinner, we were served the entire duck's head, cut into two so that we may easily access the duck's brains. I tried it. It was not pleasant.
At one "regular" dinner, we ate jellyfish in a delicious salad with cilantro. It was tasty!
Then we set out for the "night market," or Bejing's new Olympics-friendly version of it anyway. No more dirty stalls with their tacky charm. Everyone was wearing a uniform and nametags. Bizarre.
We started out with starfish.
We had five legs, so we gave one away to a set of curious Chinese ladies.
I think they liked it.
From then on, things quickly escalated into the downright weird and creepy.
This man was haggling with us for the price of bull penis. We paid the price and got meat that was tough, but cooked nicely so it was good.
Selling testicles. We skipped this one. They looked too...juicy...
The spread of all the bugs and squid and snake.
Eating centipede. One of many "proof" shots.
Dragonflies. They tasted like really crispy chicken skin.
Scorpions. They were crunchy and there wasn't a whole lot to them.
The seahorses were ok...they tasted like fish, but were a bit too salty.
At the end of the "street" there were these very aggressive fruit vendors, shouting any and everything to get you to buy their fruit.
So, let's recap the things I ate in China:
- Chicken fetus
- duck brain
- bull penis
China is full of awesome "normal" food, so one shouldn't be put off by this. You have to REALLY go looking for this place now that the Olympics are coming.
Beijing is delicious!
(PS - A side note, nothing to do with Beijing: last night in Seoul, Namdaemun (600-year-old structure, called Korea's great cultural treasure) was burnt down. It's a very sad time for the Korean people and for those of us living here. You can read more here.)