Why do foreigners throw away the foods that Chinese love? In Canton where I am living now, we have two popular dishes : Chicken feet and fish head, to be honest once we see these dishes on the table we get excited!
However, foreigners always look at these dishes with a look of horror , “oh hell, am I supposed to put that into my mouth? ” I can also see them thinking : ‘where is the rest of Chicken? The chicken feet are the bits that we throw away!’ It must be very confusing for foreigners the first time when they have this experience. ‘Why do Chinese love it? There is no meat in it!’
Foreigners often get the answer from Chinese: ‘We love to chew the bones of chicken feet or fish head!’ Chewing bones is a way to enjoy the food , a kind of hobby.
In fact, a Chinese menu is almost the same like a western menu: Starter, main dish and desert. Chicken feet is a starter, fish head is a main dish. Let’s begin with the starter.
Chicken feet normally need to be boiled for hours in order to get them soft , so they have a perfect juicy consistence to meet the chewing hobby. That is why we love it! You can see the satisfaction in people’s faces. Unfortunately I can only see a painful face from my foreigner friend when she tried to eat by chewing the chicken feet. Besides, the skin of chicken feet is full of collagen which is considered as good for a woman’s complexion , same as pig feet. So it is simple for us to eat the good and healthy food instead of wasting money on the chemical skin protection.
Once I told the same story about chicken feet to a foreigner and asked what the most delicious part of chicken was for him, he answered “chicken breast” , My god, I couldn’t believe it! That is the last piece on the table for Chinese, because nobody likes to eat it, it has no bones, and it’s dry. In my family, we used to give the chicken breast to grandparents, as they don’t have good teeth and normally just swallow food, so chicken breast is safety for them not to choke.
Well , no matter, we think it is a delicious dish or it is that unbelievable for you that the dirty feet is a dish? Don’t you not think what a good combination that is: Foreigners eat up the chicken breast that Chinese throw away, and Chinese pick up the chicken feet that foreigners throw away?
Now it turns to the main dish: fish head.
In southern China , the main dish for fishermen while they are out in the sea is fish. They make fish soup and only eat the fish head and fish tail, because that is the most delicious parts of a fish. In Chinese cuisine, we like to fry the fish head, or steam the fish head with hot pepper, which is a famous dish in Hunan province (剁椒鱼头), or make the soup of fish head together with Tofu which is made of soya beans. In this moment, my mouth is drool while these foods are screening through my brain.
But, how disgusting does a fish head look after cooking? Eyes are sticking out and the mouth full of sharp teeth. Foreigners will probably run away ,screaming ‘why do the Chinese love it?’. Again, fish head is good for chewing! However, you need to have very good chewing skills because there are many sharp bones in the fish head. I remember I had been trained by my parents since I was a little girl, I learned to enjoy it. For example, my neighbor has a dog which likes spicy food very much, because it was fed with spicy food since it was a puppy, the diet hobby for this dog is not strange but became special!
And it will be always good encouragement to eat it by knowing the benefits of a fish head as fish eyes can brighten your eyes, fish brain can make you more smarter and when I grow up, I got another good tip about fish lips; Whether you believe it or don’t , it helps you to be a good kisser!
Sometimes you find out many differences between the countries and the people, which might be strange for you or frighten you. However as a traveler or a foreigner in a country, when you get to understand and respect the other culture, I am sure it will bring you a lot of joyful experiences during the journey.
Lady of lake