Travel Stories China – The Accidental “Favourite” Dish
When I first went to China in 2007, my friend and I were invited to stay with our Chinese friend’s family to spend the Lunar New Year. We stayed at our friend’s house in a small town about two flight hours from Shanghai. Well, “small” in terms of Chinese dimensions: about 1 million people live there. What we did not expect was a culinary experience of a different kind in Jiangxi province.
Before we went to explore the city, my Austrian friend wanted to smoke a cigarette on the balcony. We were enjoying the view and trying to get a feeling for the city and suddenly our Chinese friend asked us: “Do you want to see my pet?”. We were a bit surprised by that question because at this time, pets were not a common thing in China. When we said yes, she pointed to a paper bag behind us. Suddenly the bag was moving. “This is my white duck.”, she said. “We will have it for dinner tomorrow!”…
The next day was the evening of Chinese New Year. And there it was – the duck was right in front of us at dinner. But there was another dish next to it. It was some dark meat with a very unique and strong taste. Too strong in my opinion but we did not want to be rude. “It’s delicious”, I said. “You like it?”, my friend asked. “You like the wolf?” I almost choked. The what? A wolf?! “My grandfather went into the forest and shot it just for you. We are so happy to have you as guests with us.”
I could not believe I actually had wolf. But I was not only going to enjoy it during that dinner but also the next day. Because, of course, I could not say I did not like it. It would have been rude. And because the whole family thought it was my favourite dish, they saved everything for me and watched me eat.
Sometimes, it is just about good manners and making your hosts or business partners happy. However, this was the first and last time that I “enjoyed” wolf. It still is one of the stories I keep telling when somebody wants to hear about my adventures in China. And it never gets old. And as you can imagine, this was not the only local delicacy I had – duck tongue, spicy frog, pork feet (!) and pork stomach are the ones that I still remember. But I am sure there were many more I tried to forget about 😀
Gosh you’re so much braver than I am with food abroad haha!
Culinary and cultural adventures are important. I was offered fish eyeball last time I was in Asia.