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Care for a scorpion on a stick?

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008, at 9:35 PM

It seems that one of the more strange aspects of going to Beijing for the Olympics has been the culture shock associated with some of the Chinese "delicacies" - though that's hardly the word I would use for the array of items for sale in the open air markets. Today I received 13 extremely colorful and horribly revolting emailed photographs which I find hard to believe, even though I earlier saw a television newscaster eating a fried starfish on a stick. In this email I learned that the starfish had been fried in shark oil.

Though I (fortunately) was unable to post a photo (They must be protected by the equivalent of the Chinese CIA), here is a list of the culinary items which vendors had for sale:

* Baby sharks, deep fried star fish & sea urchins.

* Grilled snake.

* Dog liver with vegetables.

* Goat lungs with red peppers.

* Corn with ginger sauce. (Well, okay, I guess no little baby corns were harmed in this dish...)

* Mixed cow and horse stew.

* Silk worms and black scorpions on a stick.

* Scorpion brochettes. (Whatever the heck that is.)

* Lizard legs. (No indication of what happens to the rest of the lizard.)

* Dog brain soup. (Let's not even go there.)

* Oysters, squids, and iguana tails.

* Assorted scorpions and beetles.

* More scorpions, crickets and beetles.

* Seahorses (on sticks, of course).

* Grilled snake and silk worms.

The photos showed vendor after vendor with a massive assortment of dead creatures fried to a crisp and skewered on sticks.

So, if the population of China is 1,321,851,888, can we speculate that it takes a considerable number of the above-listed creatures to satisfy the carnivorous tastes of that nation?

I have to admit that in the past when someone asked, "Wanna eat Chinese tonight?" I had no idea that the choices could involve the destruction of a large part of the animal world.

Gives a whole new meaning to the term "carnivorous," doesn't it?

From the peaceful Tillman world of vegetables and greenery, this is your roving reporter Madeline, signing off on a lovely summer night and hoping for visions of sugar plums dancing in my head tonight...

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Those things are certainly gross to those of us in the western world, but I have to hand it to the Chinese for being consistent. At least they don't assign special rights to some animals ("pets") and limited or no rights to other animals ("dinner") as Westerners tend to do. It's no rights for animals whatsoever in China!

Still, yuck! And if I'm ever reincarnated, please don't let me come back as an animal in China.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 10:42 PM

I TOLD MY HUSBAND CHINESE ATE DOGS!...and those poor goats! Just wait til GL gets a gander at this one!

MD...one word...YUCK!

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 10:43 PM

I would try it all. If it doesn't hurt them, it's not going to hurt me. I ALWAYS order something on the menu I've NEVER had or heard of. It's the easiest way to learn something from another culture. Especially when you travel out of the country. You poor, poor, picky people.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 1:17 AM

If I'm ever reincarnated please don't bring me back as a 'Chinese'.

MD, I'll bet you had a bowl of Frostie Flakes after reading this.

-- Posted by changedname on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 6:24 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Actually, dexterite, I had some trouble sleeping last night, just as I figured I would. The photos of all those animals lined up on sticks kept haunting me.

You know, there is a TV series that I dislike very much - "Fear Factor." The brilliant writers of this "show" are always thinking up horrible things for the contestants to eat - and the audience is expected to sit there and watch this "entertainment." As I looked at those emailed photos, I thought of how little difficulty the contestants would have if they had been raised in China, eating all manner of creepy, crawly critters.

Morrison, it has nothing to do with being picky or squeamish, for Pete's sake! Think of all those animals who had to die, just so someone could have a tintillating taste treat! I thought I remembered that some sharks were endangered, so I googled it, and here are the results:

"Experts have determined that 16 out of the 21 oceanic shark and ray species that are caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat as well as indirect take in other fisheries. In most cases, these catches are unregulated and unsustainable. The increasing demand for the delicacy 'shark fin soup', driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, means that often the valuable shark fins are retained and the carcasses discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded. Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their tendency to take many years to become sexually mature and have relatively few offspring."

Way to go, people: Let's just eat up the animal population of the planet! "Get into my belly!"

As for the goat lungs with red peppers and the dog brain with vegetables, that is nothing short of barbaric! How can a civilization which has existed for so many thousand years be so uncivilized?

They'd fit right in at a certain nearby community's Goat Burger Fest!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 6:36 AM

I have eaten most of those items mentioned and see nothing wrong with it. Some of them are actually pretty good.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 8:39 AM

EAT 'em up. Last time I checked, humans were above animals on the food chain. I am sure the GOAT enjoys a steak or burger every now and then. People like her give lunatics like the folks in PETA a reason to have a voice.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 9:39 AM

I can't tell if you're defending animal rights or just sick at your stomach because people in other countries don't eat McDonald's every day. (ok, that may be over the top...not every day) What can I say except "Gopher, Everett?"

-- Posted by ct on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 10:32 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
A vote against dog brains and vegetables is not a vote FOR McDonalds, ct. I guess I'm just appalled at the wanton extermination of an animal species simply to satisfy a craving for something unusual to eat. As for dogs, it just seems wrong to kill them and serve their brains on the street corner.

I also try to expand my cultural experience by trying things from other cultures. However, it has to at least sound remotely appetizing to me. None of the above sounds the least bit appetizing.

These days I eat mostly vegetables (very few fried)and the meat (usually fish) is more of a side dish. Two reasons: it's healthier and it's less expensive. Since I changed my diet to mostly vegetarian my cholesterol and blood pressure have dropped and my doctor halved my meds. I'm looking forward to not having to take any.

I.B. did you travel to where you sampled such cuisine? Were the goat lungs spongey? Ick.

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 10:36 AM

Baaaahhhhh. Quack, Quack. Ruff Ruff. Mooooooooo

CHOP! (silence)

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 11:47 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Haha! You're such an unabashed carnivore, hoon! Whether we're talking about animals or kids, your reaction is "POW! Chop off their heads!" Like the Chinese - you're consistant!

"Fear Factor" could be canceled and not be missed in this household.

-- Posted by changedname on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 2:38 PM

MD, The Food Network has two food critics, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain, who each have a program in which they travel around the world eating indigenous foods. A common denominator is that in all but "western" countries people regularly eat all kinds of bugs and just about any animal. In Vietnam rat is a staple eaten like American's eat chicken. People in these countries would laugh at the Fear Factor contestants. Both Zimmern and Bourdain dig right in and eat the native foods, and they both look very healthy. MD, if you were blindfolded and given a plate of stir fried cockroach you might think it tastes pretty darn good!?!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 9:34 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
FJ, though I appreciate your wealth of information, you, too, have misunderstood my objections to Chinese food. Though my stomach might roil at the sight of fried cockroaches, I would have no objection to their being eaten (by someone else). The last I heard, the cockroach population of the world is alive and well. In fact, I've oft heard that those insidious little scurrying blattidea will be on the earth long after we're gone!

(You'll notice that I have my dear daughter with me this morning, and she furnished the specific name for the cockroach, courtesy of her entymology class several years ago. I would have called the critter a BUG!)

I did eat most of these foods in foreign countries. Because I made friends in these places I basically had to try different foods when I went to their homes or was at a party or something with them. One thing I did notice is that when they ate western food the most of them would become ill. Hamburgers and hot dogs and things like that anyway. It was strange that what they ate never made me sick even though I thought it would on a couple of occasions. Probably the hardest food I encountered to take the first bite of was cat jerkey, but it turned out to be pretty good.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 10:21 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Our systems get used to a certain kind of food. The first year we were in Alaska (I think I've mentioned this on the blogs before.) U.S. Sec. of the Interior Udall came up to Fairbanks to a Potlatch and ate everything in sight (Eskimo dishes). My cousin Barbie was there, and she said, "Ooooh, he's going to regret that tomorrow!" Sure enough, he had to go to the hospital and cut his tour short.

I'm going to stick with my peanut butter, mustard and cheese sandwich!

-- Posted by greer958 on Thu, Aug 28, 2008, at 10:23 AM

Madeline, McDonalds was just a figure of speech epitomizing the Americanization of the Food Groups. Maybe that's all the meat options that they have in China. Is it ok to eat all kinds of bugs like they do in some other countries? Or are we just talking meat here? And what about baby seals? I do enjoy your blogs, though!

-- Posted by ct on Thu, Aug 28, 2008, at 1:48 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Oh, my, ct, you're not in favor of eating baby seals, are you?? Or stripping off their skins?!

I also enjoy reading your comments on the blogs, too, ct. I guess by now Hoonowski has figured out that you're female, don'tcha think??

MD, I think it was Youngest who said she didn't eat anything with a face, so I suppose there won't be any BUG meals for her, since they all have faces!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Aug 28, 2008, at 2:52 PM

If you will not eat it you just are not hungry enough yet. I don't care what it is.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Aug 28, 2008, at 10:03 PM

goatlady, you need to go to the Puxico Homecoming and eat their goat burgers. They are delicious. In the words of the Detroit City Madman(Ted Nugent),"if you can kill it, grill it". I totally agree. For you people that have never been to a Brazilian restaurant, you need to try it. They have a great assortment of wild game.

-- Posted by BonScott on Sat, Aug 30, 2008, at 8:37 AM

Well, of course, I.B., if we were all stranded in the desert with nothing to eat, I'm sure we would scamper after anything edible we could catch! (Bugs with faces included!)

However, since we live in this beautiful, bountiful country, and I (thankfully) can afford to buy what I WANT to eat, I choose NOT to eat MEAT -- especially GOAT! GROSS, GROSS, GROSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As for Puxico, let them practice their barbaric customs till their arteries clog up and they have to drink Draino to flush them out!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Aug 30, 2008, at 5:07 PM

Hey Goat,

Shark steaks are absolutely one of the best things to grill on the bbq. I guess when they're gone, I'll eat something else. You can buy them at Schnuck's most of the time. Oh, and I guess a lot less people will have their arms and legs bit off.

The goat burgers at Puxico are good. More like a pulled bbq. They are lean, so the arteries will be clean. I've had a few. May go back this year and have another.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 2:38 AM

Are seals good? I saw Bourdain on the Travel channel eating one raw with an Eskimo family. I think cooked would have been good.

-- Posted by Jim Morrison on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 2:43 AM

I respect the cuisine and cultural differences around this planet,but I am still amazed more don't die from dysentery in China.

I was grossed out by their unsanitary storage,prep, and cooking methods. I am prejudicial,as I do not care for boiling meats in what looked like dishwater.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 5:42 PM

Good grief, I never said anything about EATING baby seals! I meant (to say) that I advocate protection of baby seals. I guess that might be off topic but at the time it seemed an appropriate comment.

-- Posted by ct on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 8:43 AM

Oh, Madeline, I really think that Hoon howls pretty good for a Dead Rocker! His comments on the sports blogs sound intelligent, but what do I know...I'm just a female!

-- Posted by ct on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 8:46 AM

Yeah, I thought you were a guy when you first hit Bobby's blogs. So did hoon, I think. It's always such a rush when someone new gets on the blogs for the first time.

I'm glad you survived the Hoon Crunch!

I think baby seals should be left alone. They have enough trouble surviving the Killer Whale attacks and GLOBAL WARMING!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 4:37 PM

Well, I had you all fooled. I've been a gal my whole life! I'm all for protecting the animals, especially baby seals! Some day mankind may be nearing extinction and I'd want someone in my corner, that's for sure.

-- Posted by ct on Thu, Sep 18, 2008, at 1:58 PM

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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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