A friend of mine asked me to write about food I have eaten in China. This is not a post to scare everyone, this is just my experiences and I have enjoyed all of these.
About food culture in Guangdong (Canton area for English speaking readers) one might say that it follows the following old wisdom you hear quite often:
You can eat anything, which is not quick enough to escape you. Especially good are everything, which has four legs. Except the table. You can eat everything, which flies except a kite or airplane. And you can eat everything living in the sea.
That quote can be found in the Internet quite easily and kind of describes the Guangdong food culture quite well. Of course it is humorous thing to say but there is some wisdom inside it.
Comparing the culture between Western and Chinese is sometimes very easy but understanding it, is sometimes very difficult. When you are comparing the food culture you should keep your mind open and be adventurous. I have tried to follow that principle and I have been positively surprised. I have learned that in China most of the people I have talked to are preferring to eat something, which has taste. What does have taste? We often prefer ordinary steaks and pieces of meat, which is common and have been known to be easy to eat. Does it have taste? Is ordinary steak too easy to eat and does it have a little bit mild taste?
On my last trip to Guangzhou, I was quite open minded and I for example came across with cow stomach, pig tongue, pig pancreas and fish swim-bladder. For a Finnish person those are pretty extraordinary and most of the people would skip the opportunity to eat those. My first experience with Chinese style cooking was in Shanghai in September 2006 when I boldly tried Pidan and a cake made out of Durian. Pidan is still one of my favorites and I rarely pass the opportunity to enjoy it. Durian has been my favorite since I tried it and I am pretty sure all the people around me hate me for that … or the smell coming from that. I don’t care, I love the taste.
So, how I liked the “odd” new things I tried last time? Well, I realized that the idea of enjoying something, which doesn’t have mild and ordinary taste is actually quite fascinating. Those things had an unique taste and they are different from ordinary “boring” meat. There is an idea behind it, maybe we are sometimes too scared to try new things and maybe we Western waste perfectly good food.
I don’t know about you and I respect everyone’s opinions but I recommend to keep your mind open and try the new things. You never know, you might like those. And if you travel to China, visit Guangdong area, it is truly a fascinating area regarding the food culture.