ChopstixforFive: So, Papa, I hear you took a trip to the rural Chinese countryside this weekend with your family–3 kids 6 and under as well as an 8 month pregnant wife.
Papa: Yes, it was a cultural immersion experience with our fellow language school classmates. We were warned that conditions might be very primitive with regards to plumbing and other facilities.
C4Five: Well let’s cut to the bone here. What’s the deal with the frogs?
Papa: We arrived at the town near our final destination around lunchtime, and the local high school principal and a couple of teachers were taking us out for lunch. Our group was seated around two large tables, and food started being put out in front of us in massive quantities. One plate happened to contain a tastefully arranged display of dark-green frogs.
Papa: I had two, as a matter of fact. Tasted like chicken, as they all say. I was able to eat until I opened the stomach and out popped about 3 million tiny black…eggs? My beloved pregnant wife had part of one leg. One guy, Dan, had to run out and express some of his own intestinal contents as he gazed upon the sights on other folks’ plates.
C4Five: What about the kids?
Papa: Upon seeing a pair of beady black eyes and a set of long legs dangling from my chopstix, Ya Hui (our oldest) said, “I don’t like to eat animals that I like.” Of course, that really means, “animals that I can recognize in their entirety on a plate.” We didn’t really delve into the discussion about the source of other proteinaceous meats right then. All 3 kids firmly rejected any frog samples and stuck with rice and eggs.
C4Five: Where do the silkworms fit into all of this?
Papa: In the afternoon everybody split into small groups to inteact in English with the 4 high school classes in session that Saturday. Most upper level high school students go to class, not only Mon-Fri 7a-9p, but Saturdays from 8-5 as well. Our family visited one class, where we talked about the United States and where we were from. The first kid jumped up and asked a question about basketball and LeBron James. This was the first time any of these students had met foreigners, and they were especially intrigued with the children. We sang a couple of numbers for them as well (If You’re Happy and You Know It, Star Spangled Banner, Jesus Loves Me). My wife made 2 trips to the outhouse with the girls.
But I digress. After that, we were taken to our host families in the nearby village, and had some time before dinner. And boy, was dinner a production!
C4Five: What was served?
Papa: They made about 500,000 jao zi (dumplings) stuffed with various delicacies, as well as about a dozen other dishes. I didn’t quite realize that one in particular was more exotic than the others.
C4Five: I understand your wife had a sneak preview?
Papa: Yes, she had been in the kitchen and was asked if we had ever eaten “these animals” before, and was shown a bowl full of (thankfully dead) sliced-in-half dark brown plump and juicy silkworms. They are actually sold in our local vegetable market, wedged in between the bok choy and sweet potatoes, still alive and squirming.
C4Five: And you actually tried them?
Papa: The dish was served with the silkworms breaded and deep fried, along with red and green hot peppers and other succulent veggies and spices. Quite well disguised, I must say. I was told, “If you have to try a silkworm, these will probably be the best tasting ones you will ever have.” So I took the plunge.
C4Five: Tell us about it.
Papa: All in all, the meat was pretty good, as a matter of fact. The hardest part was the crunchiness of the shell, which had to be swallowed along with everything else.
C4Five: And you obviously lived to tell about it, without apparent health consequences. So, the question remains: would you eat these delicacies again? And, more importantly, what do recommend to our readers?
Papa: I woud have to say, I will most likely save these culinary adventures for times when courtesy requires me to consume them. But by all means, go for it! Live life on the edge!