Sunday, August 28, 2011

Special Report from the Department of Missed Opportunities

Amar'e Stoudemire, power forward for the New York Knicks, recently said this about his trip to China:
Spent my last few days getting the local flavor of the people and culture of Beijing by visiting the Chinese Street Market. I was starving, but there was no way I was messing with these. They deep fry them here. I am going to have to pass!
That was accompanied by this picture of Mr. Stoudemire looking dubious by a street food vendor.

He went on to note that it was the sea horses, silkworms, scorpions, lizards, snakes, and tarantulas that particularly turned him off. "I think I am ready to land in LA and hit up In & Out burger!," he quipped.

Really? Look, folks, I can understand that there is a gross-out factor for Westerners when it comes to eating animals with more or less than four legs. I've also never tried an In & Out burger, although everything I've heard says they are a must-try delicacy in California. That all makes sense. But seriously...what a missed opportunity! There are lots of street foods that don't involve lizards. There are fried breads and steamed buns, there are pork and chicken skewers, there are hundreds of varieties of tofu. The point is that even if you are squigged out by the thought of eating something with tentacles (keeping in mind, of course, that lobsters have tentacles...), you can find a street food to try. I hear a lot of people, including Mr. Stoudemire, talk about actively avoiding street food while in China, and it truly makes me cringe. Not only does it make me cringe, I just don't get it. If you are soaking up the local color, like Mr. Stoudemire was, and you skip the street food, it's like you've taken in a rainbow but ignored the green. You're not getting the whole experience. Why would you purposely avoid part of the cultural palette? Like I said, I recognize that there are a number of reasons that people skip the street food while they are in China, but I really encourage anybody to give it a go anyway. It doesn't have to be scorpions...there are absolutely more familiar entry points. There's a whole world of flavors out there, and it's a real shame to miss them.

Direct message to Amar'e Stoudemire: next time you go to China, give the street food another chance. I don't think you'll be sorry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Entomophagy

It seems I'm trendier than I suspected. Shortly after writing my recent post about eating bugs, The New Yorker printed an article about the exact same topic. Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to read the full article online, but there are two supplementary online pieces including this one with some video from the writer's research from the article and this one about how to "free one's mind" from the cultural biases that keep people from trying bugs (including substantial reference to a 1992 article about entomophagy). Glad to have some high-powered support to my belief that we should eat more bugs.  In conclusion, please enjoy this cartoon from a recent New Yorker:
Best proposal ever.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mitigating the Inevitable: Part 2

Warning: No pictures in this post...just a wall of text.

A while back, I wrote a post about some preventative measures to avoid getting ill while eating street food as well as how to deal with it when it happens (which is inevitable). When I wrote that post, I was in fine fettle and good spirits.  Shortly thereafter, however, my fettle turned very un-fine.  I'm not sure exactly what it was or how it found me, but I spent several days in July under siege by a particularly aggressive stomach bug. It's been a long time since I was sick like that. Years and years. It was terrible. I was laid out. Incapacitated. I had forgotten just how bad it can feel.