There is nothing that shows your commitment to becoming Chinese than eating traditional, fresh-killed Chinese food. Where Dim Sum hides and packages food into non-threatening bite-size bits, a real Chinese meal will involve heads and tails of strange and familiar animals.
For this you will absolutely need to go with a Chinese person, preferably someone with a very good idea of Chinese cuisine. Don’t mind the fact that he/she will talk with their mouth full or belch at the table. This is a small price to pay for the real deal.
Every real Chinese meal will feature the following ingredients: snake, squid (with legs), fish (with head), something that shocks (seahorse, jellyfish, bird’s nest), and vegetables that have no one would ever look at and call it food (taro, bitter melon). But really, you should be prepared for anything.
Those of you who are squeamish about heads on your meat products will simply have to accept it. Chinese distrust is not just of people but also includes food.
- How do we know we’re not being cheated?
- How do you know that that’s really eel and not leftover cod?
- How can we dance while our beds are burning?
The proof is in the head and tail of whatever animal we are about to consume. Seeing those parts on the platter reassures everyone at the table that SPAM was not harmed in the making of this dish.
Now, there are a lot of Americans who think that one of the most unpleasant parts about Chinese food is the idea of eating a pet: dog, cat, etc. The truth is pets taste the best. Think about it this way, a pet is well-fed, well-loved, and healthy. Its meat is tender and generally a pet is clean, so the meat is safe, perhaps even organic or – dare we say – Halal? Most domesticated pets are mammals, which is no different than eating a cow or pig.
Of course there are those who’ve become attached to pets as a member of the family. But you don’t have to eat your own pets. The pets of your neighbors will do just as well.
Basically Chinese people will eat anything that is not a rock.
For animals that means eating every body part except for beaks, nails, and bones. It means all forms of wildlife are subject to being an ingredient.
The truth in the disappearance of pandas is not because they can’t survive. It’s that they can’t stop being caught as a tasty stew.
Eating everything with a cellular structure also means that every plant is a possible form of vegetable. For plants that might be listed as poisonous by the rules of science, the Chinese will use as an herb.