I always thought that if I ever tried eating bugs, it would be on a dare, for a ton of money. Then last weekend I found myself at the Donghuamen Night Market with a CBS crew, trying centipedes, silkworms, and other odd critters for a CBS Early Edition segment. (More photos following the video.)
You can also see the video on CBS's site.)
In the past few weeks, international TV stations and reporters have increased tenfold around Beijing. And more than a handful of media outlets have pounced on the fact that the Wangfujing and Donghuamen snack streets sell some of the weirdest things to put in your mouth. Beijing Boyce is even documenting the scorpion-on-a-stick love affair with a running tally of stories this month. Locals and expats may snicker, knowing full well that nobody eats this stuff but tourists. But at some point everyone has been equally awed at seeing the critters for the first time.
CBS correspondent Jeff Glor was supposed to be the one sampling all the "snacks", but I ended up eating my fair share. So if the video wasn't enough, enjoy the pictorial tour, complete with tasting notes. I ate this stuff so you don't have to.
These are the starfish that in the video I said tasted like saltwater eel. They basically took the entire thing and deep-fried it, then whacked it open so we could eat the insides. You can also bite into the shell, like an older gentleman nearby did.
Scorpions were simply crunchy, like the tiny little bits that end up in the bottom of your french fry carton. Didn't try the beetles. Did I mention that nobody in Beijing eats bugs unless they're capturing the moment on film, just to disgust their friends back home?
At the night market, the vendors slice up cow's stomach and boil it with some broth and vegetables. While I didn't have it at the market, I definitely have eaten this at some point in my life (out of sight, out of mind.)
As expected, silkworms were pretty disgusting. Think rotten, overcooked scrambled eggs.
In my opinion, the centipedes were the worst. This was one instance in which the deep-fry-everything-to-get-out-any-bad-taste philosophy failed. It was almost bitter.
One guess what the two skewers on the right are.