I’ve been eating out so much that I might need to see a dietician when I’m back in Melbourne. Yuye’s dad is very knowledgeable about where to eat which is a good and a bad thing. Fantastic for my blog and my stomach but also very bad for my waistline and digestion. Oh the dilemmas. I may have gained a few kilos already and it’s only been a week.
Apparently (thanks to choux choux for letting me know :D) my Instagram actually posts to Twitter and Facebook from my iPhone! I was so happy and excited that night that I stayed up thinking how I can exploit this loophole in the Great Firewall. I thought and thought but really didn’t come up with any good ideas. Perhaps I should post up blog updates through that? There’s probably no point though since most people who would read this blog wouldn’t go through Twitter or Facebook. Oh well, it’s there if I really need to communicate something important. 🙂
A few days ago, Yuye and I went to Wang Fu Jing (王府井), probably the most foreigner friendly place I know. It’s a large street (similar to the likes of Swanston St in Melbourne) with shopping malls on each side and a slightly hidden (although very famous and popular) Wang Fu Jing Snack Street (王府井小吃街 Wang Fu Jing Xiao Chi Jie) tucked away amongst the modern buildings.
The first thing you’d notice as you walk through is the following.
Yes! Insects!! The first time I visited this place, I was in shock and awe. The weird things on sticks were too strange for my palate but there were a few daring foreigners who gave it a go.
“Crunchy” they said, and “actually not bad” as well. But I didn’t believe it. How can insects taste good right? Although scientifically speaking, insects are very good for one’s wellbeing. A friend once tried to convince everyone that insects are the ‘food of the future’. According to a few sources, they are high in vitamins, minerals and proteins and are already accepted foods in many countries such as China and Mexico. However, I foresee that it will still take a long period of time to change our diet as these little creatures look just a little bit terrifying for some, especially myself.
As you can see, the wonderful range of weird foods isn’t limited to just centipedes, scorpions, silk worm pupae or grass hoppers. There are also lizards, sea horses and sea stars if that takes your fancy. I’d personally rather eat those than insects.
There are also, of course, more acceptable foods like chestnuts! These chestnuts are huge (double the size of normal ones) and they have been cut open in the middle for easy consumption. They were very sweet and delicious. Much better than the insects I’m sure.
If you’re thirsty and cold, there’s a perfect option right amidst the food – it’s the “old Beijing yoghurt” (老北京酸奶 lao bei jing suan nai) which is best consumed hot and of course, it’s a drink. For those of you more used to the spoon than the straw when it comes to yoghurt, it’s actually quite a nice drink to have, especially when it’s freezing cold outside.
Mind you that there are 2 types of bottles for the yoghurt. The ceramic looking ones are not disposable so they must be consumed right there and then and then returned to the shop owner. The other version is plastic and can be taken away with you but both version cost the same. We opted for the plastic version as we were cold and just wanted to hide somewhere out of the wind.
There were Yuye’s favourites – lamb skewers – as well on offer and we just couldn’t pass it up. There were quite a few stalls that sold them though so we picked the cheaper one (10RMB for 5). The meat was tender and tasty and is probably cleaner than the little stalls off the streets due to high turnover.
We didn’t get any this time but if you’re a little more adventurous (but not adventurous enough for insects), you can also try the “stinky tofu” (臭豆腐 chou dou fu). These are fermented tofu that have a very strong odor which many people don’t like but they are in fact quite tasty (to me anyway). Yuye doesn’t like them. 😛
If you have kids with you, they might like the blown lollies in the shape of Chinese zodiac signs although I’m not sure how good they taste. Else you can just go for the candied fruits that are in abundance there as well.
Look at these skewer sticks! I see people cleaning the streets but for some reason they don’t tip this bin.
After a sastifying (or horrifying) meal, you can buy a souvenir or 2 in the side alleyway where pictures of Chairman Mao appear on hats and plates along with miniature “Terracotta Soldiers” and other Chinese decorations.
Further north from this food street is another famous food street which opens in the evening called Dong Hua Men Night Market (东华门美食坊夜市 Dong Hua Men Mei Shi Fang Ye Shi). There are red lanterns hanging outside each stall and sells similar foods to the ones I mentioned above. For other food markets in Beijing, visit http://www.beijingtrip.com/dining/foodstreet.htm If you find yourself in Beijing, these food streets are a must visit destination as it really gives you an insight into the food culture there.
I took all of the above photos with my iPhone 4S as it was way too cold to snap away with a DSLR (plus I was scared food bits would get on it) so sorry for the bad photos.
If you’re interested in consuming insects, you can visit http://insectsarefood.com for “delicious” recipes and information.
Question time: Have you ever tried insects before or would you ever try it if you had the chance?
Wang Fu Jing Snack Street (王府井小吃街 Wang Fu Jing Xiao Chi Jie)
Location: No.277 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing (北京东城区王府井大街277号)
It’s easiest if you take a subway (Line 1) to Wang Fu Jing Station or take a taxi there.