Tag Archives: Donkey Meat
I have always drawn the line with dog. Even though my Chinese friends tell me that cooked dog in China is of the wild variety, I just cannot bring myself to partake of it. I always politely refuse. But that does not mean that I have not eaten some other very strange foods in China. Sometimes, you just have to go with the local specialty.
A few years ago, I visited Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Chinese Kung Fu, in Henan Province. I stayed in the downtown area of Dengfeng, which is just a ‘stone’s throw’ from the famous temple. After spending the day at Shaolin, I wandered back into town and began looking for a place to eat. The streets of Dengfeng were filled with white tables and pink chairs and it seemed that the whole town came out to eat. While the sight of so many people eating dinner on the street was interesting, what was more fascinating was what they were eating. And also what I would be eating a few minutes later. At first, I really did not believe what I was seeing. Throughout the downtown area, people were being served grubs mixed with vegetables and spices on small metal trays covered in plastic. That is right, grubs. For a few brief moments I was repulsed; but I was also hungry. There was a battle that waged in my mind for those brief moments. Sure, I told myself, we do not eat grubs where I come from but that does not mean that they are not worth eating. And besides, I asked myself, why are Westerners so obstinate about not eating these little creatures? Maybe we have been missing out all along. So, within ten minutes, I was sitting at a small table popping grub after grub into my famished mouth. Look, I will not say it was the best meal that I ever had but other than the ‘squish,’ that occurred everytime I ate one, the meal was quite enjoyable. The spices and added vegetables helped to make the experience even more enjoyable and I went to bed with a full stomach that night.
Grubs are probably the strangest and grossest (by Western standards) food that I have ever eaten. Well, maybe not. Some of you may consider donkey meat to be a bit “exotic.” Or how about turtles? Turtle eggs? Anyone? Then there is rabbit meat. It is a bit bristly and tough, but does not taste too horribly bad. Chinese people also have an affinity for pig and chicken blood. I am not a big fan of anything’s blood but I cannot say I have not ever tried some. In Lhasa, Yak meat is a local specialty and I shared many a cup of butter tea with the local monks.
Eating new and strange foods is just part of life in China. While I am always concerned about the cleanliness of food that I am eating, I am definitely not afraid to try some foods that the West would consider disgusting. You should not be either. While it is okay to draw the line at eating dog, I think that experiencing some new tastes and sensations in your mouth is not such a bad thing.