Wait wait wait… we’re supposed to *spit out* the exoskeleton?

This Chinese seafood buffet lunch party was already getting out of hand…

silkworm chrysalis
Silkworm chrysalis (蚕蛹), a common BBQ option in Qingdao, China.

…when I noticed that the guy I was eating silkworm chrysalises with was spitting out the exoskeletons — like they were watermelon seeds or something. According to him and another friend I asked later at a different event, most people don’t swallow the exoskeletons of these big ones (the small ones, apparently, everyone just crunches down.)

The next day at the gym one of the trainers brought it up because he’d seen my Weixin post. So I told him how this other guy said most people spit out the shells, and both the trainer and the woman he was coaching replied, “No! We always eat the shells! The shells are good!”

Either way, I wish I’d known the exoskeletons were optional the first time we ate these — these take a long time to chew! And the whole time you’re thinking: “There’s a big squishy bug in my mouth… I’m chewing a big squishy bug in my mouth… I’m chewing a big squishy bug in my mouth and I can feel it… I’m chewing a big squishy bug in my mouth and I can feel it and I’m gonna swallow it…” (But no one thinks to tell the lǎowài these kinds of things…)

seafood plate

Starfish, dog, and pretty much whatever else, I can eat without thinking about it. Except the silkworms-on-a-stick — those still take some mental effort.

6 thoughts on “Wait wait wait… we’re supposed to *spit out* the exoskeleton?”

  1. You know, you’ve been in China long enough now that you don’t have to eat gross foods any more. You can just eat the stuff you like. The scorpion-on-a-stick blog post is so cliche, anyway.

    1. I’ve never had scorpion on a stick. But I understand your point: Of course you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to in China, and going out of your way to eat ‘crazy’ stuff so you can blog about it is cliche. I agree. So?

      That’s an entirely different thing from being *served* food by your local China friends or neighbours.

      It’s weird how the China blogosphere has people policing other expats’ degree of adjustment to expat life — like they’re the guardians of expat subculture or something. You’re definitely not the first (and you’re more polite about it than some others…).

      1. Nobody’s policing anybody, that’s pure projection on your part. As far as degree of adjustment – it’s just that one would be expected to have some degree of adjustment after so many years, speaking Chinese, and hanging out with locals instead of at the foreign bar. But no, this could have come from a first-year laowai. It’s just disappointing, that’s all.

  2. I’ve eaten those stir fried at several student’s houses in NE China, and I’ve never once seen anyone spit out the exoskeleton, so I’m as surprised as you that some people spit them out. Maybe it’s more a rural / city divide?

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