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Video of the Cultural Revolution Restaurant Extraordinary Eats Historical Wonders Strange Tourism 

Video of the Cultural Revolution Restaurant

I gave all the juicy details of this restaurant where you can make merry, while celebrating the best of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward, earlier this week. But here, for your pleasure, is some video of the mad show and the flag-waving audience.

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Beer as it’s Best: Served from a Baggie Extraordinary Eats 

Beer as it’s Best: Served from a Baggie

In the incredible Qingdao, you’ll never be without a beer. It’s the home of Tsingdao, after all! Delivery trucks stand on every corner, engines running. Buildings decorate their roofs with massive cans. Even the sidewalk paving stones sometimes feature cartoon animals getting tanked. It truly is the city made by beer. If you’re looking for a quick drink, though, don’t you dare buy a bottle. 

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Lucky Fruit (and Ain’t So Lucky Fish) Extraordinary Eats The Occult 

Lucky Fruit (and Ain’t So Lucky Fish)

Yesterday, these little nectarines showed up at the market. Dyed (branded? scalded? waxed? greased up with dirty stinking chemicals?) with Chinese characters, they read tall (高), shining (照), a thing (事) and happiness (喜). “No, no, no,” said Echo, a good friend. “You’ve bought the wrong ones, and got them in the wrong order. They should read ‘吉星高照,’ which means ‘good luck.’ It’s an idiom.” (The ones I ended up with, ordered as below, read something like “tall photograph of a happy thing.”) “Or maybe they’re trying to say ‘喜事高照,’”…

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Why Chinese Pharmacies Sell Dried Sea Horses Extraordinary Eats Strange Medicine Top Stories 

Why Chinese Pharmacies Sell Dried Sea Horses

Sea horse makes for a terrible nasty meal.  Little sharp bits get caught in the teeth, the gums, and there’s a nauseating salt taste to it.  Plus, they just look weird.  Like little bone beasts. Most of China disagrees with me, though.  Here, they’re as popular as ginseng.  And just like ginseng, they’re used to enhance a man’s… well, virility.  They also reinforce the kidneys’ yang, I’m told. As the raunchy old Guangxi saying goes: “Eating sea horses keeps that 80-year-old granddaddy young.” “Chang chi haima, bashi gonggong lao lai…

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Soy Sauce Kit Kats (and other awesome flavors) Cute & Kawaii Extraordinary Eats 

Soy Sauce Kit Kats (and other awesome flavors)

I was a little confused about the Tokyo airport when I flew through there a few weeks ago. It seemed so… rundown. Ceiling tiles missing, chairs blocking entrances, stores closed. And then I saw this sign. Uh-oh. What had I missed during my media blockout? Turns out the third reactor was about to go, so I did what any slightly-nervous very-jetlagged consumer might do. I bought Kit Kats. Lots of them. You probably already know that Kit Kats are the lucky treat in Japan. The local name for them, kitto…

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Why Some Chinese People Still Eat Fried Worms Extraordinary Eats Strange Medicine 

Why Some Chinese People Still Eat Fried Worms

Just like the baijiu-soaked deer penis, earthworms are a legendarily royal remedy here in China.  They’re not even called worms, but something far more royal: Earth Dragons (地龙). It all started with Emperor Taizu of the Song Dynasty, who ruled China from 960 to 976. Apparently, he had a wretched case of shingles. All of the royal physicians were baffled and no one could find a cure. No one, that is, except a simple folk doctor.  He plucked a couple of earthworms — sorry, earth *dragons* — from the ground,…

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Kiev: The Weirdest Ukranian Opera Restaurant in Beijing Extraordinary Eats 

Kiev: The Weirdest Ukranian Opera Restaurant in Beijing

Missing those classic Yevhen Hrebinka hits?  Desperate for a Chicken Kiev and a bottle of Stoli?  But sick of those stern Soviet babushkas slapping down watery bowls of borscht? I hear you, brother. The closest I’d gotten to good Ukranian in Asia was in a subterranean Beijing nightclub. The bouncer outside was a scowling mohawked dwarf in a tuxedo. Inside, there were more hookers than customers.  Sounds good so far, I know, but onstage the aerobics left little to my appetite. So instead, we decided to try Kiev Restaurant. And…

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Why Chinese Drugstores Sell Deer Embryo and Penis Extraordinary Eats Somewhat Perverted Strange Medicine 

Why Chinese Drugstores Sell Deer Embryo and Penis

Eating snake seems so sleazy, and eating ants is just gross. So much nicer than either of these? A young, innocent deer. That’s one of the most common sights in a Chinese pharmacy, and when you see one stuffed, it represents longevity, happiness, luck and benevolence. And every single part of that benevolent deer is valuable. The antlers are sold in elaborate gift boxes, almost like moon cakes. They’re not eaten whole, but ground up and mixed with warm water, until the combo becomes a thick glue, called Deer Antler…

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Why Chinese Pharmacies Still Sell Ants Extraordinary Eats Strange Medicine 

Why Chinese Pharmacies Still Sell Ants

It turns out that, compared to $3000 snake penises, ants are a real bargain at just $30 a kilo. But who in their right minds would eat ants? Maybe the happiest emperor in the history of China, Emperor Qianlong? He died just before the 19th century began, at the pretty insane age of 89, and blamed his good looks and eternal youthfulness entirely on his diet of ants. This was the best photo I could get of ants… Someone bought these from the local pharmacy.

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Why Chinese People Eat Snake as Medicine Extraordinary Eats Strange Medicine 

Why Chinese People Eat Snake as Medicine

Every time I pass by one of those classic Chinese pharmacies, I can’t help but stop.  You’ve seen them — the deer antlers and sea cucumbers sold in gift boxes; the dusty owls perched above the counter; the ants, sea horses, and snakes in cabinets.  You can’t help but wonder…  at least, I can’t…  why on earth would someone eat these things? A few months ago, I decided to find out.  I bought some traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) books.  I drank snake booze.  I spent hours at Beijing’s TCM university…

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Kyrgyzstan things Extraordinary Eats 

Kyrgyzstan things

In China, I adore the “foreign” vs “domestic” duality. I’m not sure that it’s any more skewed than our own is, but it’s definitely different. My girlfriend, for example, is a Bostonian, several generations back. But because she looks Chinese (and, three generations ago, her family was), here she’s Chinese. Just speaks her native tongue really poorly. Meanwhile, the foreign is so confusing. In a village I spend time in, there’s a foreigner everyone knows as “The Thai.” He’s not actually from Thailand, but he’s lived there. And, unlike the…

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