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Confession: I'm Addicted To Trying Strange Asian Foods.
Hi, my name is Dani, and I'm a foodie - but only when it comes to all things weird. As those of you who participate in my weekly So Good Or No Good food game, I'm always interested in talking about gross food combinations and dishes that, well, require a certain kind of palette. I thought it might be fun to create a list of strange international foods I've tried that maybe other people wouldn't be into - some left me wanting seconds, and well, others definitely had me running to the bathroom. Have you tried any of these? Century Eggs (China) Century eggs - also known as pidan - get their name because they are soaked and preserved for long periods of times (traditionally, several months) before they're eaten. What normally looks like a regular white and yellow boiled egg turns into translucent black with a consistency kind of like Jell-O. I thought these were surprisingly delicious. Once you get over the fact that the eggs are black and have a different smell than a normal hard-boiled egg, you'll find that it's still really tasty! Pork Dinuguan (Philippines) Dinuguan looks like a pretty unassuming stew with a color is reminiscent of a Mexican mole sauce, but the taste couldn't be any more different. It's made with anything from standard pork to more questionable parts like the lungs, kidneys, intestines, ears, heart, or snout, and it's all simmered in pig blood. As far as this one's concerned, I was able to make it through a few bites, but the texture and the heavy iron-flavor of the jellied pig blood sauce really grossed me out. (However, my Filipino friends insist this can be SUPER delicious, so I'm waiting for their moms to make me some!) Yukhoe (South Korea) There's really not much to explain when it comes to yukhoe. It's ground raw beef served with raw egg and a variety of seasonings. Sometimes it's served as you see in the picture above, and other times, it's over rice with an assortment of vegetables as 'yukhoe bibimbap'. Yukhoe is actually really delicious! First, I was scared because there's so much 'NOPE!' here, but yukhoe is served cold, so the beef flavor is mild. Also, the seasoning does a good job of keeping you from feeling like you're shoveling raw hamburger meat in your mouth. (Make sure you're ordering yukhoe at a reputable place so you don't get sick!) Natto (Japan) Natto is a fermented soybean dish that is traditionally served at breakfast. With a stringy consistency and a strong odor, it's known to be an acquired taste - even within Japan! Natto is often served plain, but you can also see it rolled up onigiri-style. I couldn't get past the first bite or two plain, but I will say that eating it with soy sauce and mustard (which is often provided when you order natto), definitely helps you get it down. Yeah, this was a once-and-never-again dish for me. Zhū ěr duo (China) Zhū ěr duo is a popular Chinese appetizer of sliced braised pig ear, commonly served both hot or cold. The outer skin is chewy and soft, while the strip of cartilage has a crunch that might be unfamiliar to people trying it for the first time. Personally, I felt like the texture took me a bite or two to get used to, but once I had, I actually found pig ear to be pretty good! I don't know if I could eat a whole lot of this, but it's really nice as an appetizer. Dalkbal (South Korea) Dalkbal is a dish popularly served as something of a pub snack in South Korea. It's chicken feet prepared in a spicy sauce of red pepper paste and sesame oil. Overall, it's light and meaty, but definitely has plenty of crunchy cartilage inside. Dalkbal is super spicy! I don't think I realized I was such a heat wimp until I tried it for the first time. The cartilage gets in the way of it being anything close to filling, but it's a great snack, especially for you beer and hot wings types. So now I want to know about the unusual foods YOU'VE tried. Share your own stories! Is there a food in your family's culture that a lot of people outside of it wouldn't be into? Are there strange foods you were scared to try, but actually liked eating a lot? Let us know in the comments below!
China Bans Funeral Strippers
The Chinese government is in the news this week as the country's ministry of culture announces that they will "crack down on 'stripping' and other acts of illegal business performance market". The statement was released after controversial videos were circulated featuring paid strippers disrobing in front of parents and children at a Handan funeral - resulting in arrests and a $11,300 fine. (I know. This is a lot to process.) Apparently, funeral strippers have turned into quite a trend in both China and Taiwan, as the region's bereaved have been shelling out some serious cash to pay for strip shows that can go as long as two-and-a-half hours. According to Everett Zhang, assistant professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, funerals in the area are treated like one lavish party, celebrating with as many people as possible to ensure that their loved one is sent off properly to the afterlife. "In China, when the person who dies is very old and has lived a long life, this kind of occasion becomes purely a celebration." But why strippers?! According to China's official Xinhua news agency, strippers are hired "to attract more mourners," adding that these racy performances "add to the fun". Blame it on cultural difference, but I can see why something like this would deserve to be shut down. However, while Zhang sees where this situation could be problematic, he's particularly surprised at the bold measures the government is taking to put an end to it. "Local people would not be happy about the arrests. That would be really intrusive and offensive." So what do you think? Should the Chinese government be allowed to arrest and fine the bereaved hiring funeral strippers, or should it be left to the family's discretion? Let me know in the comments below, and for more WTF news, follow my WTF Street Journal collection.
China Prepares For Heavy Smog By Buying Lots Of Condoms.
It's no new news that China has a horrible air quality problem, and it's only been getting worse. Earlier this month, Beijing, the nation's capital, was issued its first-ever 'red alert', a severe government warning that encourages citizens to stay indoors as much as possible and to use extreme caution when having to go outside is necessary. Normally, this causes a surge in online sales. With families no longer being able to go outside, commerce shifts from shopping malls to computer screens, with residents buying anything from first aid supplies to sportswear, so they can catch up on some exercise once the air clears up. Oh, yeah. And they're also buying condoms. Uncommon amounts of them, in fact. According to Taobao.com, a national Amazon equivalent, the gap between condoms purchased in smog-heavy cities versus ones with clearer air widened considerably during the first couple weeks of December. It even got to a point where, by December 10, the number of condoms sold each day was consistently surpassing the number of air purifiers and masks. (You know, those things they probably need to help them breathe?!) The website concludes the surge in condom sales comes with a good explanation: "People have greater concerns of good child bearing [in air-polluted cities] and try to prevent getting pregnant on smoggy days." You can draw your own conclusions as to why Beijing has been getting (safely) down a lot more in the past few weeks, or if you're a completely immature human being like myself, you can tell everyone this story and follow it up with an "Air pollution and chill?" Let me know why YOU think, and for more WTF news, follow my WTF Street Journal collection.