This is to answer that one question you always had about the Chinese.
To answer this question, yes even though eating insects is a taboo in most societies, it dates back thousands of years. Not only do the Chinese but a lot of south Asian countries like Korea and Thailand including North, Central and South America; and Africa, Australia and New Zealand enjoy ingesting insects.
I come from a culture where we more or less kill insects to protect ourselves and not because we want to eat them. It’s a cultural difference and perspective that’s hard to step away from.
|Your typical sights and smells in Wangfujing, Beijing|
While researching on the consumption of insects or entomophagy, it came to me as a surprise that the main consumer for these creepy guys is, in fact, Thailand and not China. Grasshoppers, centipedes, various bug larvae, silkworms, multiple creepy giant cockroach lookalikes fall into the list of bugs humans consume.
Other unusual food consumed includes seahorses, scorpions, even animal body parts like snakehead soup, duck feet marinated in blood, solidified duck blood, pork lungs, peacock and pig face. Banquet specialties include cow’s lung soaked in chili sauce, goose stomachs, fish lips with celery, goat’s feet tendons in wheat noodles, shark’s stomach soup, chicken-feet soup, monkey’s head, ox forehead, turtle casserole, pigeon brain, deer ligament and snake venom, lily bulbs and deer’s penis… you know where I’m going with this.
What came as a bigger shock was that even though people blame the rapid rate of urbanization and industrialization for China’s pollution problems and water shortages, few recognize that meat industries are to be equally blamed. Livestock produces more greenhouse gasses on the planet than all automobiles and other forms of transportation combined. China’s meat consumption per capita has nearly quadrupled over the past 30 years to an estimated 71 million tons per year. And if China’s meat consumption doesn't slow down, the environmental consequences could be disastrous.
So is there anything in the world that can gross the Chinese?
Believe it or not, many regard eating cheese or butter as disgusting; they consider eating a plain cooked steak as primitive and unappetizing and find the French custom of eating snails to be strange.
[Images from Flickr]