Saturday, June 11, 2011

More food adventures

So, being in the foreign students' dorm and going to class with all foreigners (I use the word here to mean not Chinese) means that we get an introduction to far more cultures than simply Chinese. Most of my classmates are Korean and I've learned a few phrases. Several of my friends are Italian and I now have an extensive vocabulary of Italian swear words. And because one of my friends is Australian, last week I had the pleasure of trying vegemite. My friend Katie had us try vegemite with butter on toast. I had heard interesting things about this substance before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. After the first bite, I thought it was disgusting, but by the time I finished the toast I liked it enough to try it again on a cracker. I am certain that I couldn't handle eating it every morning for breakfast like many Australians did, but nonetheless, I did (mostly) enjoy it.

Again back to Chinese food eating adventures...

This week I met up with a seventeen year old Chinese girl who will be going to America to finish her last two years of high school and then hopes to go to an American university. Before she leaves for America, she is learning how to cook Chinese food so that she can do so for her host family. Therefore, a couple days ago she invited me to learn how to make dumplings with her. Her housekeeper/nanny type person is rather an expert at it and she spent several hours teaching us. The last time I made dumplings during immersion week at Simon's Rock last year, we used store bought wrappers, but this time we made them all from scratch. While the dumplings that the two of us made were distinguishable from those of the nanny due to how ugly they were, they all tasted great and only one out of the whole batch broke.

In addition to dumplings, her nanny made a bunch of different dishes and then my friend told her mom to pick some more stuff up on the way home from work. What her mom came home with was bags and bags of rather strange food items.

So, here are the strange new things I tried at dinner:

1. Duck neck
2. Chicken feet
3. Pig feet
4. Duck head
5. Pig liver

So far I have maintained my position that I will try anything offered to me once (as long as it isn't an animal that I've once cherished as a pet).

So, the verdict on these interesting foods?

Duck neck was actually quite delicious. It was extremely spicy, but I enjoyed it a lot. I would definitely eat that again.

Chicken feet...I'm not so sure about. While the flavor was alright, the texture was rather disgusting. It was sort of scaly and slimy. There was also not really much of anything to eat off of it.

Pig feet I also didn't enjoy so much, though it was better than the chicken feet. I think from now on I'll just stay away from animal feet in general. Most of my dislike for it was also a texture thing.

Duck head (by which I mean the entire head, beak, eyes, and all) was a little more daunting than the rest of the foods I tried. When they offered me one at first I said no thank you because to be honest I was a bit grossed out by the prospect of eating it. When they said again that it was really tasty and that I ought to try it I said, truthfully, that I had no idea how to eat it. They showed me that you can eat it with your hands by holding the beak and basically gnawing at the head. I toughed up and tried it. To my surprise, it was actually extremely delicious. I quickly got over the disgust at the fact that I was chewing on an animals head and enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn't eat the brain since I knew from my last trip to China that I don't particularly like duck brains. I would definitely try that again.

Last on the list of interesting foods for the night was pig liver. All I have to say about that is EWW. The flavor and the texture were enough combined that I had serious difficulty not throwing it up or spitting it out. As my friend was watching me I tried to stifle my gags and swallow it practically whole. That I will not be trying again.

There is this really cool food street that I went to last weekend that has even more crazy things like insects, lizards, and all sorts of weird looking seafood, so I hope to go there and try things before I leave. When someone isn't telling me to eat something, though, I'm not sure if I'll have the courage to do it. I told one of my friends this and she told me she'd buy for me just to enjoy watching me eat the crazy things. I really want to try scorpion on a stick......I wonder if you risk stinging your tongue?

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