Can you eat insects? – Wang Fu Jing Snack Street has it all

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.

Wang Fu Jing Snack Street (王府井小吃街)

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.

Edible grasshoppers on skewers

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.

Scorpions, silk worm pupae, starfish and sea horse

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.

Lizards, large scorpions and centipedes

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.

Large chestnuts with shells cut in the middle for easier consumption

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.

Old Beijing yoghurt drink (take away version)

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.

Lamb skewers with cumin and chilli spices

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. 😛

Stinky fermented tofu

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.

Edible blown sugar things - in Chinese zodiac signs and shapes

Look at these skewer sticks! I see people cleaning the streets but for some reason they don’t tip this bin.

Used skewers

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.

Chinese souvenirs

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.

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24 comments… add one
  • Nami | Just One Cookbook February 11, 2012, 5:00 am

    Oh so fun! Well, not so much about the insect part… the closest insect that I ate was deep fried bees in Taiwan (it was like popcorn). Haha, great that you are eating. You can always lose extra weight later but it’s a great experience to eat all kinds of food right now. 😉 I would love to eat chestnut like that. So easy to peel!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 11, 2012, 12:18 pm

      Bees are insects XD I wouldn’t have eaten that either 😛 Although I have eaten ants by mistake (they were in my cocoa powder container because it wasn’t closed properly)…they were spicy and crunchy.

      Reply
  • Hotly Spiced February 11, 2012, 7:10 am

    I think I would have to pass on the insects. I could eat the chestnuts and the lamb skewers though. Great post. So interesting. I think an iPhone 4S takes pretty good pictures.

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 11, 2012, 12:21 pm

      The 4S does surprisingly well, but the battery is so bad I have to charge it almost every day even though I don’t use it much. 🙁 And it’s not like I can buy a spare battery for it..boo…

      Reply
      • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com February 12, 2012, 7:08 pm

        The apps are running in the background. Try shutting your iphone off completely and reboot again. You’d be surprised at the battery indicator 🙂

        This post reminds me of a recent Andrew Zimmern’s journey to Beijing, showcasing insects etc. I can’t stomach the idea of eating any insects forget about eating it.

        Reply
        • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 13, 2012, 12:42 pm

          I shut them down, hope it helps a little. 😛 Thanks! I was told by a friend that you can somehow calibrate the battery or something which would make it last a lot longer because all phones come out of the factory working at only roughly 60% of capacity. I’m not sure if he knows what he’s talking about though. 😛

          Reply
  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella February 11, 2012, 10:36 am

    I vote this for the most fascinating post of the year so far! I have eaten insects at a festival but it was nothing like the array here!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 11, 2012, 12:24 pm

      Haha thanks Lorraine 😛 It was pretty fascinating…just not to eat. There’s heaps more I didn’t photograph!

      Reply
  • Deanna February 11, 2012, 11:00 am

    I’ve had escargot and silk worm larvae. The silk worm larvae were good when they were hot. Cold or room temperature? Not so much. I would eat other insects thought. My theory is people wouldn’t make it if it didn’t taste good to someone.

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 11, 2012, 12:27 pm

      Oh, that’s right! I like escargots…I forgot they’re an insect. Well that’s probably the only thing I like eating then. I’ve almost had silk worm larvae before…almost..but my cousin couldn’t tempt me.
      Good on you for wanting to eat the others!! 😛 I get sick just looking at them haha…guess I’m not a true foodie…

      Reply
  • leaf (the indolent cook) February 11, 2012, 4:42 pm

    This brings back memories… I went there last year. I didn’t try the insects, because I didn’t see even the locals eating them, so I figure they were probably gimmicky.

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 12, 2012, 4:22 pm

      That’s true, locals don’t really eat them. I think it’s more an attraction for foreigners. I also always wonder how long the insects have been there…surely not many people eat them so who knows..:S

      Reply
  • msihua February 11, 2012, 6:51 pm

    I was following this on instagram. I would love to get there to take pictures too! I was fine until the lizard shots.. I hate lizards. Absolutely! They make me want to run around and scream (because they’ve fallen on me before and tails have come off)… EEEK!!!

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 12, 2012, 4:23 pm

      Yes, I love Instagram :D. I’ve seen lizards with their tails fallen off before, but they’ve never fallen on me before. 😛 That must’ve been very scary!

      Reply
  • Hannah February 11, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’d like to think I could be adventurous with insects but those are way too big for me! I’d have to start with something tiny…

    Chestnuts for me, please 😉

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 12, 2012, 4:24 pm

      I wouldn’t be able to do it even with smaller ones…:P I’d go with the chestnuts too…hehe

      Reply
  • JasmyneTea February 12, 2012, 4:03 pm

    God, there’s no way I could put something like those insects in my mouth! Still an interesting post, and I love the look of those blown lollies 🙂

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 12, 2012, 4:25 pm

      I know me too! Not sure about the blown lollies either, they just look pretty but not sure about eating them…:P

      Reply
  • Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) February 12, 2012, 7:32 pm

    I could possibly handle a seahorse…like you said, it’s kind of easier to stomach as they’re not “insecty” haha.

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 13, 2012, 12:38 pm

      Yes!! I couldn’t possibly put anything ‘insecty’ in my mouth…:P I always felt sick whenever they show those Fear Factor episodes on TV…

      Reply
  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet February 14, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Oh my gosh wow… I’ve heard about people eating insects but it’s just so confronting to see it in pictures close up hahaha 🙂 I don’t think I could eat any insects too ~

    Btw I know what you mean! I’ve gained SO much weight since coming to HK ~ but my excuse is because i’m a blogger I have to eat 😛

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 15, 2012, 8:44 pm

      I know right! I use that as an excuse every time but it still feels bad when I start gaining weight or can’t fit into certain clothed 😛 maybe I should eat insects from now on to lose weight….mmmmm

      Reply
  • Maureen February 17, 2012, 8:30 pm

    I know it’s going to make me look bad but there’s no way I’m gonna eat a bug unless I’m starving. Just the thought of the texture in my mouth makes me begin to squirm. I’m a shallow person. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake February 18, 2012, 12:57 pm

      Haha I don’t think it makes you look bad at all…because I don’t think I can eat bugs even when I’m starving and about to die! It’s not being shallow, it’s just what we’re comfortable with…:P It’s like eating dog meat, I can’t do it because I think they’re pets and they’re so cute…but people in China eat them all the time..

      Reply

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