February 23, 2012
Eating in China
A couple days ago I went to the Liwan District in Guangzhou because all the travel blogs told me to. So here is my photo story!
I love going to new places and just wandering. I was told to take a good several hours meandering the streets, taking in the beauty of the atmosphere as I go. I saw this messenger bike and was inspired to make it the focus of my photo. Somehow the humble playfulness of the clotheslines in the background added so much Chinese personality. I snapped a photo and was so pleased with the colors. Isn’t it wonderful how beautiful daily things like this can be such art if we take a moment to appreciate it?
The guides told me to find Qing Ping Market. It is an open market that sells all sorts of food…dried goods, Chinese herbs and medicines, fruits, veggies, you know the usual.
But I need you to prepare you eyes for the next one. You musn’t scroll down further if you have a weak stomach. And don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. The Chinese are known to eat about anything.
The blogs and forums told me that I will see some of the weirdest stuff being sold as food. I didn’t think much of it until I saw the creatures in action…
Ugh. I cringed when I walked past this lady selling turtles, eels, all sorts of fish, and…scorpions. SCORPIONS!!!! OK, I’ve been to Chinatown a million times growing up so the other animals didn’t scare me too much (although I felt so sad because I have a pet turtle…) but bugs?? BUGS!! I hate bugs. I can’t even look at one! Put it in my mouth! Ahhhh!!!
So of course I had to go and research the reasons why ANYONE would eat a scorpion! According to traditional Chinese Medicine:
“Scorpion has pungent and neutral properties, and is associated with the Liver meridian. It is extremely toxic. Scorpion is used to stop spasms and subdue endogenous wind, and to dispel toxins and wind. Scorpion is sometimes combined with other herbs as part of a larger formula to treat convulsions and spasms of the hands and feet. Some practitioners may recommend scorpion as a treatment for headaches and pains in the joints.”
That was scary. But what was more scary was the below photo. Again, please prepare your eyes.
Do you see what’s sitting in that board? Yup. It’s alligator meat.
Ok, look, I’ve had alligator one time in college as a part of a Mardi Gras thing but wow, to see the skin of an alligator still ATTACHED to the meat is another thing. A whole ‘nother thing. I cringed so bad. I literally had chills run down my spine every time I looked at it. The picture is far away because I didn’t want the lady to shoo me away and because well, I think you see enough.
And the chickens. The frogs. You know, if I ever had to kill my own food, I would 100% be vegetarian. I can’t imagine killing. We are SO FAR removed from where our food comes from that eating meat is like nothing. But when you see your food alive and walking, it is truly something else. Makes you think a few times before you eat.
I then wandered out of the food market area which really for me was a cross between a wine & dine experience and a zoo of sorts (well for a Westerner that is) and did some shopping. I successfully bargained for a dress IN CHINESE!!!! My translator taught me how to say “how much is this” and “cheaper!!” – I mean that’s all I need to know right. Haha, she also taught me how to count. So there was this super cute dress from 39 RMB. I came up to her and said “Pen yee den” (cheaper) and she said 35. Then I said “sam sup” (30). She smiled at my weird Chinese-American accent (coming from a Chinese looking girl) and said ok. Haha, I felt SOOOOOO accomplished you have no idea. Just for your reference, 10 RMB is about $1.58 USD.
Umm so what have I been eating? Well, I haven’t been eating rice which makes the people I go out with think I’m crazy town. But it’s not like everything else I’ve been eating has been healthy AT ALL. My mouth feels smothered in vaseline after every meal. I mean, here’s a picture of a meal I really really tried to make healthy. Broccoli, onions, an egg, a piece of steak. But wow, look at that steak. It’s glossy. And that piece of fat right there. OMG. Heart attack anyone?
It’s funny, I’ve been ordering tofu every time I have lunch and dinner. I really do love it so much. And not because I saw those meats in the market. (BTW, I did not see dog meat, but I also chose not to turn into a butchery area…that’s probably where it was.) I’m not going to commit to 100% vegetarianism like I did back in the summer and early fall, but I will try to eat less of it when possible.
People from different countries, regions, even states all eat different things and it is spectacular to be able to glimpse into someone else’s daily life through their culinary ways. But at the end of the day, we eat what we can hunt and gather in our environments and we eat what we are told to eat. The latter you can control though. Yes, I am talking to you with the parents.
Fascinating, just fascininating.
Now tell me, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten???