That’s snake, a dish I sampled a couple days ago. I would say it tastes like … snake. No, seriously, I would compare it to some small fish because of how it was cooked (baked in some soy sauce, kind of like unagi, methinks) and all the bones, large and small. It wasn’t terrible, although I only had one. One was enough.
It’s by far the “weirdest” food I’ve eaten since arriving in China. I had fried pigeon — which came with its head and beak — in Guangzhou. I also had donkey meat. But I don’t really classify the two as weird food (OK, donkey might be a little).
But honestly I haven’t eaten much strange food since I’ve been in China. It’s not that hard to eat like I do back in the States. My diet has been pretty straight forward — chicken, beef, veggies, noodles. Perhaps the only food I’ve eaten more of that I don’t back home is mutton.
I mention all this because one of the stories that flooded very Western medium during the Olympics was all the “weird’ food that Chinese people eat. The funky foods on a stick — scorpions, sea horses, other weird shit — at the night markets. The exotic meats — dog, donkey, frog, turtle, other mammals.
Every TV station sent their reporter, every newspaper sent the columnist to the local market or out-of-the-way restaurant to sample the craziest food they could find. A couple guys even tried penis. Seriously.
NBC wasn’t immune to the weird food draw. The Today Show sent their anchors to the Beijing night market to try scorpions on a stick. So did every affiliate. Even my editors — bless their hearts — wanted me to try some “weird food” after watching the video of the two reporters chowing down on penis. Uh, no thanks guys. I’m not that adventurous. Plus, you’ll have to pay me A LOT more if I’m going try, even nibble, on boiled animal penis. I leave that to Anthony Bourdain and that tubby, bald guy who tries anything and everything.
The fact is that there wasn’t anything new to write about the subject. Unless it was an article lambasting the very idea of weird food — which most Chinese don’t eat anyway — and the media that gobbles it up (some in the media did write that story). So I avoided the story idea and avoided it and avoided it until — magically — the Olympics were over. So my editors were left without their “weird food” story (reporter 1, editors 0).
Perhaps the story I should have written about was the invasion of fast food chains in China. KFC seems to be one of the most popular. There’s one in every neighborhood, on every other block. That’s including Mickey D’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Domino’s, Pizza Hut. The United States’ biggest exports seem to be calories and expanding waistlines. Just look at all the corpulent children here.
But if my editors still want a weird food story, perhaps I’ll head to the local Pizza Hut in Shanghai, where I found this monstrosity. I give you the Seafood Pizza, one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in my two months in China: