China has always held an allure for travellers from around the globe; it’s difficult to travel in, communication is tricky at best, the culture is a shock to the system and the food…well the food is something else.
Of course, like any country with new found wealth, McDonald’s and Subway are a dime a dozen all across Beijing, but steer clear of those tried and tested food joints, wander down a side street or two and find the real Beijing cuisines – anyone for seahorse kebab, deep-fried scorpion or starfish on a stick?! Culinary diversity is the lifeblood of Beijing cuisine, so delve in deep and relish all it has to offer – from the bizarre to the beautiful – but be warned it will take a lot of courage.
Beijing is said to feature more than 40,000 restaurants not to mention the countless street stalls and food markets so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Most of these establishments keep with Chinese traditions of marking their festivals with unique culinary creations so if you arrive in China during any special occasion, you’re in for a real treat.
Although these quirky dishes may be a great opportunity for your new Facebook profile picture, they aren’t here solely for the tourists. The Chinese traditionally believe that certain body parts of certain animals hold medicinal properties, for example seahorses and lizards are said to be great for men’s virility, although I’m not sure how lambs testicles are reported to help us!
Let’s have a look at what’s on offer in this wonderful city:
You can get silkworms, grasshoppers, seahorses – all on a stick.
You could opt for some 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 but not the skin.
Deep-fried bee larvae, although sourced from Yunan province, pops up time and time again across Beijing.
Although not considered a delicacy, more of a last resort for those on the poverty line, bugs, maggots and cockroaches can be found on the menu if you wander into a poorer area.
Pet lovers out there may not want to hear this but dog is found widely on Chinese menus so choose your food carefully. Dog brain soup is a particularly bizarre option.
Finally, pigs penis and lamb testicles on a stick. I’m not sure what to say about this as it is without doubt the most difficult thing I’ve ever eaten in all my travels. They are fried and doused in chilli, but nothing removes the mental block about what it is you are actually about to eat!
Ok guys, get yourself to China, line your stomach with some cats feet, caterpillar fungus or some live rat embryos (yes, I’m serious!). You’ll have a hell of a story to tell when you get back! Happy travels!
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