If you travel to have an adventure of a lifetime, you might want to take your journey up another notch. Why not become adventurous with food? As far as westerners are concerned, Asia is by far the go-to place for the exotic and rare. Now this goes beyond Asian people and women because food in Asia, particularly in the humungous country of China, is very much extraordinary. From dog meats to bugs, Chinese dishes are but wrapped in mystery and intrigue. In the Wangfujing Food Street, you can find creepy crawlers actually succumbing to the wok or grill.
Insects like tarantulas, beetles, scorpions and grasshoppers seem scary or gross when alive but do you have the appetite or the guts to gulp them down your throat? These insects are usually skewered on bamboo sticks, looking harmless and perhaps a bit appetizing than they should. If you love seafood, wait until you get served with turtle meat, sea horse and starfish. Those colorful starfish you used to admire on the beach and carefully pick up one by one to throw back into the saltwater found their way into the simmering brine soup or overnight herb marinade ready to be devoured.
Even poultry dishes are extraordinary in that you might dream of being served with a clean cut of chicken breast or leg, doused with a lovely sauce and then topped with colorful herbs. But China can be as exotic as it can be. So don’t be surprised to find an entire bird on a platter. And yes, it’s a whole bird, complete with all its body parts including beak, neck, feet and innards.
Dog meat is one of China’s exotic yet common delicacies. They are very popular in Guangdong and Sichuan where dog meat is stewed to beat the winter cold. Dog meat is so versatile that you can find dishes such as dog brain soup and dog livers with vegetables. If you haven’t had the adventure you’ve been looking for, give exotic Chinese cuisine a try. You just might realize that those Chinese take-outs you’ve been fond of are nothing compared to what’s in store for you in Wangfujing, Sichuan and Guangdong. Photos by: asiansupper, Clara Alim and Christopher Amos