Eating bugs ain’t my style.
I started working in the Beijing office last week and had lunch with a local woman who works there with me. Being only on my fourth day in China, I was excited to meet and spend time with a Beijinger and to share a nice meal with someone my age. I also saw this as a great opportunity to ask her some very important questions, such as “on what occasion should I wear a traditional Chinese silk dress? (A: weddings and formal parties)” and “is there really a language accent in Chengdu? (A: yes, and even those fluent in Manadarin have a hard time understanding Sichuanese)”. We also discussed one of the well-known streets by my hotel- The Wangfujing Snack Street and nearby night market.
This area is renowned for it’s- we’ll say unique- foods. All of these treats can be eaten either on a stick or stabbed with toothpicks. Everything from tame fruit on a stick or egg and potato omelettes to the wild options- spiders, snakes, whole fish, starfish, and scorpions. When I asked my new friend about what the locals think about eating bugs her reply was, “oh, no, those are mostly just to impress the tourists”.
Later that day, Bruce and I found ourselves in the area of Snack Street. Bruce had been doing research on these bugs and worked up the courage to test out his stomach strength on baby scorpions. It’s three-to-a-stick and the stall owner gladly shows you how fresh the 2-inch long critters are (they’re still moving!) before sprinkling some seasoning and slapping them on the open grill. An excited Bruce looks on, awaiting his meeting with scorpion destiny.
Two minutes later, Bruce is holding the badge of honor, an empty stick. “they’re kind of good!” he says, “like crunchy cajun french fries!”.
Meanwhile, I’m struggling to hold back the vomit-in-my-mouth feeling. I may be willing to try a few new things, but it’ll take a long time before I eat a bug. I think he’s truly looking forward to the next food challenge, and the squeals of “gross!!!” coming from his wife just make him all the more adventurous.