So far since I've moved here, I've eaten plenty of things that would make most people, including myself, squirm in their seats. Among the things I've eaten are:
- Cow intestine
- Pig's feet
- Turtle Jelly (Chinese medical herbs and turtle shells)
- Chicken feet
Aside from the chicken feet, I had been completely unaware of what I was eating when I had these things (in this province, it's just best not to ask.) Snake isn't bad at all. The cow's intestine...ah, well that was disgusting. Pig's feet are terribly hard to eat and chicken feet? I mean there's pretty much nothing to eat in the first place. We're pretty much talking skin and tendons. Sorry for the mental picture. I tried chicken feet because I figured that I have to try it all while I'm here and they are a hugely popular snack. I don't get why, though. They're awful.
I have a very firm belief that you understand a place through its food. You understand New York through its halal street food, $1 pizza and intensely specialized restaurants (places that only serve french fries, for example.) Here in southern China, through these very interesting and, frankly, scary foods, I have grown to understand that the local culture is deeply practical. Much of Chinese food that is eaten today was born out of necessity many years ago. You couldn't afford to waste anything. And so now, still, nothing is wasted. Westerners can say all they want that a lot of food here is weird, disgusting or barbaric, but I think you have to appreciate the resourcefulness of the way China eats.
But still, I'll never eat chicken feet again.