Delicious Chinese Food that Westerners Might Find Unusual

July 27, 2011

Sparrows are a common street and snack food. They are skewered, roasted and fried and served on sticks. They are often eaten bones and all between sips of beer in streetside stalls. In Beijing, you can get silkworms, grasshoppers, seahorses, and scorpions—with their stingers intact. Other weird food favorites include snakehead soup, duck feet marinated in blood, solidified duck blood, pork lungs, peacock and pig face. The latter is made by pouring hot tar in a pig head to remove the hair put not the skin.

Banquet specialties include cow’s lung soaked in chili sauce, goose stomachs, fish lips with celery, goat’s feet tendons in wheat noodles, shark’s stomach soup, chicken-feet soup, monkey’s head, ox forehead, turtle casserole, pigeon brain, deer ligament and snake venon, lily bulbs and deer’s penis.

A typical menu offers things like “goat genitals soup,” “pig hoof gruel,” “old vinegar jelly fish,” “fried goose intestines,” “know taste pork meat pie,” “chicken without sexual life,” “pockmarked old-lady’s tofu.” “fish smell like pork.” “spicy ducks heads” and “lover’s lung.” Some restaurant serve donkey and the entree “Explodes the Stomach, Slides the Tendon and Fires the Sheep’s Internal Organs.”

Some people in China eat dirt as a “famine food.” Analysis of samples of eating soil shows that it contains large amounts of iron, calcium, vanadium, magnesium, manganese and potassium—essential nutrients that are in short supply in times of famine.

Huangshan Stone Frog is a speciality of Anhui province. The black-skinned frogs found there are quite large and bear quite a bit of meat. The meat is said to have a light, sweet flavor. Frog fat is enjoyed as a desert. Eating frog is supposed to strengthen your bones and improve your eyesight.

drunken shrimp Weird fish and seafood dishes include fish lips and eyeballs and drunken shrimp, a delicacy in which live shrimp are dipped in alcohol, and their head is pinched off and eaten. Sweet-and-sour Yellow River fish is cooked while it is still alive and served while still breathing. Jellyfish is squeeze dried, processed with diluted acid and the dried in the sun. It can be kept for months without spoiling. Not all jellyfish can be eaten. Some lack the texture to be appetizing when dried.

Thousand-year-old eggs, a Guangdong delicacy, are made from duck eggs coated with lime, ashes and mud and soaked in horse urine for 100 days until the yolks turns green and the whites become gelatinous and dark brown. The eggs have a creamy, cheese-like flavor and a strong smell. Some are aged in black mud. These become partially hardened and are sold in markets as a seasoning for pork products. Thousand-year-old eggs are often served with rice congee or cut in chunks and eaten with slices of pickled ginger to soften the taste. Chinese also eat duck eggs that are packed in a pot and buried in the ground.

The Chinese considered many foods eaten by non-Chinese to be strange. They consider eating a plain cooked steak as primitive and unappetizing. Many regard eating cheese or butter as disgusting and find the French custom of eating snails to be strange.


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