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In case you ever wondered what it’s like to eat BBQ’d silk worm larvae (蚕蛹)

The carapace is tough but flexible. Biting down causes hot mush to burst out into your mouth. Two more chews and two squirts later it’s finally empty. You manage to down the bug guts in two or three swallows, but the outer shell is the challenging part. It takes a lot of chewing, and the thought of sliding it to the back of your mouth in order to swallow makes you wonder if you’ll gag. Your choice: try to swallow all of it quickly in one go and risk gagging, or chew and chew and chew, swallowing little shredded pieces of it at a time, prolonging the experience. You take the second option, feeling each piece of the exoskeleton slime across the back of your tongue and down your throat. Thankfully it doesn’t have much taste. And without legs and wings, it’s easier to eat than that giant cockroach in Thailand.

You can see more info and pictures of silk worm chrysalis (蚕蛹) here. I heard separately from friends and students that one of these things has the equivalent protein of three eggs.

We love this sidewalk BBQ place because of the 热闹 atmosphere. The wide sidewalks are usually filled with folding tables and stools and diners. This night we had to walk through the kitchen and eat in the back alley because three chéngguǎn were charged with doing nothing but standing on the opposite sidewalk from the afternoon until 12:30am to make sure none of these restaurants put out their tables! I went and complained to them. They were friendly, and said they had to manage that particular road (the restaurant is on the corner of a T-intersection). The other road, literally around the corner in plain view, had tables and stools and the usual illegal street vendors, but these three guys were only watching these particular restaurants on this particular road. All they did was stand there, for hours, looking at the opposite sidewalk. That’s how things work here. They’re the ones that said, Don’t worry, you can eat outside in the back alley.

The blurry, non-flash-or-tripod photo above on the right shows the true colours and lighting and warmth.

To put things in perspective, this place also offers giant (giant!) white snails, bullfrogs, the usual assorted animal organs, and… wait for it… sheep penis on a stick. So all things considered, silk worm larvae are not so far out of one’s comfort zone.

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5 thoughts on “In case you ever wondered what it’s like to eat BBQ’d silk worm larvae (蚕蛹)”

  1. Aren’t there places in Leviticus that talk about certain disgusting things that should never be eaten???

    This also reminds me of ancient Rome. Not a fan.

  2. Well I haven’t seen baby goats cooked in their mother’s milk on any menus yet. Though considering what is on the menus here it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that people actually do eat that somewhere in China!

    Tianjin is actually pretty tame in the “crazy stuff served in Chinese restaurants” category. That stuff (mostly in the south) makes this look like hotdogs!

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