Thursday 12 April 2012

Across the cafe table: April

This month's question for across the cafe table on Travel Belles is all about food. Or more specifically: Interesting foods. I've lived in Asia in total for 3 years (Taking one year off back in the UK). This is a fantastic place for weird unusual food. So where should I start with interesting culinary delights?

Seahorses at DongHuaMun
I read a saying once;

'The Chinese will eat anything with four legs, except a table and chair, anything in the sea, except a submarine and anything in the sky, except an aeroplane,' 

(Inside China this phrase is narrowed down to those from Guangdong province in the south.) There are many rumours about what the Chinese eat; monkey brains, chicken feet, pigs trotters. Most of these are true, because China really does have an usual palette which it comes to ingredients.

But anyway back to unusual things that I've eaten...? I don't think I can choose just one thing I've had out here, so I'll have to list my most unusual things;

1. There is a famous market in Beijing (Donghuamun night market). Here you can buy skewers of scorpions, seahorses, silk worm larvae and other creepy crawlies. Thankfully I only took pictures of these weird snacks. But something else quite equally cringy in China is stinky tofu. This is usually sold on street stalls. You know where you can buy it because the stench is awful. Many a time walking through streets in China will your nostrils pick up this hideous stink. I coundn't understand why this was so popular. So I decided to see what the fuss was about. I ate some stinky tofu (in a restaurant not off the street). You know what? It was nothing to write home about. But at least I can say I tried it.

Stinky Tofu
2.Meats available in China are very varied. I once ate turtle. Although I didn't know until I'd swallowed it. Out for a meal with school, I thought the food would be pretty safe. Alas, after my first taste of the stew, the teacher next to be turned towards me and said 'Do you like it?' Actually I didn't, the meat was chewy and had hard (shell) bits in it. 'Umm, it's OK,' I answered. 'It's turtle meat!' She delighted in telling me. Ok then. No more of that for me thanks.

Croc Burger

3. Living in Korea brings me into contact with some odd foods as well. Peanut butter dried squid? fermented cabbage? pickled radish? But that stuff is all quite normal out here. What people always ask about Korea is 'Do they eat dog there? Have you ever tried it?' Actually no I haven't. But eating dog doesn't really bother me. Would I try it? Yeah why not? Firstly, I don't really like dogs, they bark and they bite and I'm frightened of them. So I don't look at eating dog meat as eating a pet (a cat however I couldn't eat). Secondly, they don't eat their pet dogs. These dogs are a specific breed and they're bred only for food (just like chickens and pigs etc). The thing is, it's not actually that common to eat dog out here. There are restaurants (exclusively selling dog) but it's not a staple of the Korean diet.

They do however, like soondae. This is a type of sausage made from blood. I tried this at school. I wasn't fazed by the blood aspect, we have black pudding in England, another blood pudding and I like that. But this is NOT the same. The fact that it was made of blood didn't bother me, but the fact that it tasted minging was enough to put me off. Definitely not made in the same way as black pudding. :-/

Not good!

4. I suppose maybe the weirdest thing I've had was in Cambodia. Deciding to be adventurous in Siem Riep I ordered a crocodile burger. If you're ever given the option of crocodile burger, don't take it. It was dry and bland. Yuk Yuk Yuk.

All in all my adventurous eating habits don't usually end up being a delicious tasting experience. But they do make a good story!

To check out with other travel belles have eaten while travelling check out it out here.
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  1. Oh my word!! I didn't even know seahorses were edible. Yeesh. :-) I have never traveled to Asian countries and don't know what I would do facing some of the things you have. You are a very brave woman. :-)

    1. I mostly just take pictures of the creepies. They are too exotic for me, a lot of them are still wiggling while they're on the skewers! :-S

  2. I love Soondae!
    I'm pretty much up for trying anything - or at least a taste of something...
    Probably one of my worst 'dining' experiences was the Durain Fruit in Singapore - I didn't manage to swallow it. Very little of my dignity was spared as I spat it out in full view of the other market shoppers.

    Another tip - is don't order the vegetarian pizza's in Dahab's dive-side restaurants; Raw potatoes cannot be categorised as scrumptious vegetarian Pizza toppings! Standard.

    M x

    1. Raw potatoes? Yuk! Durian is the WORST! Smells bad and tastes even worse! I wonder if we'll eat any strange things this summer... heres hoping! x