I ask these two Chinese friends, both young, wealthy, educated urban women, if they’ve ever eaten 毛蛋 — literally “hair eggs”, actually fertilized chicken eggs (i.e. a chicken fetuses) that simmer for hours in woks on Qingdao sidewalks:
“Oh, gross! We wouldn’t dare! No way!”
What about starfish (海星)? Do you eat starfish?
Earlier this week we were running around with some friends from Kunming and stumbled upon a starfish-eating opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Click the first thumbnail to open the viewer. And read the captions; it’s like a little story…
[1/22] Hey laowai! Wanna eat a starfish?
[3/22] Uhrm… sure?
[4/22] Here goes nothin’…
[5/22] I don’t know…
[6/22] You gotta mash it down on the grill first…
[7/22] Well, here we go…!
[8/22] Here, everyone gets a starfish leg…
[9/22] Ok, but there’s just one problem…
[10/22] …how exactly do you eat it?
[11/22] Thankfully, Nainai is here to help.
[12/22] You gotta peel it open and suck out the insides.
[13/22] These insides.
[14/22] Like this…
[16/22] Dude. You serious?
[17/22] Let’s do it! 一、二、三！
For more Chinese food
IMO, adventure eating isn’t any fun by yourself. And it’s not any interesting if the food isn’t “real” local food, meaning if it’s something locals made up just to freak out tourists but don’t actually eat themselves then I’ll pass. Unless it looks tasty. But I’ve seen 毛蛋 (chicken fetus eggs) and starfish (and cicadas and silkworm chrysalises) in normal Chinese settings far removed from any tourism. I pass by piles of them every week in Qingdao. So when some undauntable foreign friends from Kunming visited us last week, it was the perfect chance to try them.
These things are common, but they’re also not a regular thing for most people, and a lot of people think they’re gross. Below the photos I’ve translated some of the reactions I got sharing a 毛蛋-eating picture on 微信 (aka WeChat, the Chinese answer to Facebook). Click a thumbnail to open the viewer!
[1/13] These are maodan 毛蛋。
[2/13] Maodan literally means ‘hair eggs'; they’re actually fertilized chicken eggs.
[3/13] Chicken fetuses in various stages of development…
[4/11] …simmering for hours in woks on Qingdao sidewalks.
[5/11] Chicken fetus? I’m not afraid of chicken fetuses.
[8/11] Maodan 毛蛋！Mmm-mmm! Hairy egg chicken fetus.
[9/11] I just swallowed chicken fetus…
[10/11] Yummy! See? Have some!
[alarmed/dismayed/appalled] / [惊恐]
No No oh my。。。
[astonished] / [惊讶][惊讶][惊讶][惊讶][惊讶]
Can even write Chinese, awesome / 还会写中文，厉害
This seems unhealthy! / 这个好像不健康！
[alarmed/dismayed/appalled] / [惊恐][惊恐][惊恐]
I’m terrified [supercilious] / 真惊了[白眼]
[cold sweat] I don’t dare eat that / [冷汗]俺不敢吃
[twitch][twitch][twitch] Isn’t this cruel? / [撇嘴][撇嘴][撇嘴]是不是很残忍
[Strong] / [强]
You really do this! I’ll ‘like’ it, but won’t imitate [awkward] / 你真行！点赞，但不效法[尴尬]
[stunned][stunned][stunned] / [发呆][发呆][发呆]
James asks you: does it taste good? How’s the texture? / James问你：好吃吗？口感怎么样？
[become weak] / [衰]
But some people do like them, like this woman, who snagged one today right in front of me while I was waiting for my lunch.
For more Chinese food adventures, see:
It’s that magical time of year again in our neighbourhood, when spring blossoms surround the taiji lessons (太极拳). Took these this morning on the way to work. Click a thumbnail to open the gallery viewer!
For more tàijí from our neighbourhood, see: