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These Chinese Street Foods Are Not for the Faint of Heart

Updated: 4 days ago

Forbes, Time, The New York Times, BBC and other publications all seem to believe the salvation of the human race rests in a diet comprised of insects. Maybe China has known this all along? Chinese street food ranges from weird to wonderful, and utterly culture-shocking. Anthony Bourdain seems to believe street food will save mankind, so, what do you think? Bugs for dinner?

Note: Always Pack Tissues represents many tried and tested travel sites as what is called an 'affiliate' partner. That means if you click on my ads I may get a commission from a resulting sale.

Quote with black and white beach and mountains backdrop. The quote says "Street food, I believe, is the salvation of the human race." Anthony Bourdain

On our first night in Beijing, jetlagged and delirious, my husband and I decided to eat in the downstairs dining room at our hotel. Perusing a menu of frogs, pigeons and questionable animal innards, my husband frowned at me over the top of the menu. With a hint of disgust and fear he exclaimed,

"I thought I was an adventurous eater, but now I'm not so sure."

We settled unceremoniously on broth soup and white rice that night.

What we found over the next 10 days assaulted our senses in unimaginable ways. We smelled smells we had never experienced before - the kind of putrid back-alley odors that sting the eyes with vinegar and one-two punch the sinuses with eau de dumpster. The pollution was thick and suffocating. The traffic was denser than I'd ever seen it in my entire lifetime, and I've been to Atlanta! We discovered a genuine kindness of the people, we shared meals in their homes and in their humble businesses. We reveled in a millennia of history, we climbed the steep steps of the Great Wall, drank cocktails in French influenced Shanghai, and ultimately marveled at China's colorful palate of strange strange things to eat.

Exhibit A: Bugs

Here, on fine display for an afternoon snack we have: scorpions, centipedes, starfish, seahorses and an array of other creepy crawlies on sticks. Yum.

Listen, I'm not going to eat this stuff, but someone does. Anthony Bourdain, infamous frank foodie, said:

"Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."

I don't think I'm tall enough to ride this ride. Barf.

Exhibit B: Lizards and Frogs

While we're on a journey of a dozen things I'd never ingest unless death was threatened upon me: I give you, lizards and frogs.

If street food is the "salvation of the human race", as Bourdain suggests, I really hope it doesn't end here.


Exhibit C: Other Weird Stuff

Pigeon, anyone?

Exhibit D: Things I'd Actually Eat but Didn't

Classics - roasted chestnuts, meat on a stick, eggs on a stick.

Exhibit E: The Good Stuff

Blog owner snacking happily on candied strawberries on a stick in China
Candied Strawberries, Photo: Always Pack Tissues

Candied strawberries, soup dumplings, recognizable meat on exists in China and it's so, so good.

What do you think, would you eat bugs and lizards to save the human race? Or maybe, just have a cool travel tale to brag about?


Blog owner standing proudly amongst shelves of soy sauce in a Chinese grocery store.
Stocked shelves of soy sauce, Photo: Always Pack Tissues

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