Tag Archives: gross

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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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
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 museum.  And I spent weeks asking questions of my TCM-expert friend, Chloe Chen.

Today, in the first of the series: why in the heck you might want to start eating snake…

Snake wine for sale in a Qingdao, Shandong Province pharmacy.

Wild stories, photos and recipes, after the jump!

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Extraordinary Eats, Strange Medicine / , , ,

Medicinal Sea Horse Soup

I adore TCM.  But I don’t know what to say about this bowl of “Pigeon Soup with Chinese Medicine” we ordered last night at Gongti’s Xuxian Lou (许仙楼的《川弓海马乳鸽汤》). Yep, that’s a sea horse floating on top.

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Extraordinary Eats / , , , , ,

Now this is what I call appealing….!

Horse meat sashimi, as served up in Beijing.

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Extraordinary Eats / , , ,

Pig Faces, Hong Kong

I found these little puppies while looking for the Tak Fat beef ball stall, in the back of the Haiphong Road Temporary Muslim Market. Loved the simplicity with which they hung there (and desperately wanted to wear one as a mask.)

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Extraordinary Eats / , , ,

A Surprise at Dinner

(Found on my plate at the Yangjia Restaurant, Beijing.)

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Offbeat Museums / , ,

Tokyo’s Creepy Parasite Museum

You might think it a bad idea to eat all these weird and raw meats — like diaphram. I did, too. So I trolled the streets of Tokyo until I found the world’s only Parasite Museum. Sadly, everything was written in Japanese, and I couldn’t find a single employee to translate. Not one. Just an unlocked door, and room after room of parasites, and no people. (Even the gift-shop was empty… parasite key-chains (real parasites!) stood waiting to be sold, but I left them there.)

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Uncategorized / , , ,

Eating Diaphram in Tokyo

Another of Tokyo’s “best meal” contenders was Toraji Param, a Korean hormone restaurant on the 500-something-th floor of some fancy Tokyo building. As the elevator flew up the 5000 flights, my ears popped. At our table, floor-to-ceiling windows showed off all of Tokyo. It was jaw-dropping, to put it mildly.

And then the food came. And my jaw dropped again.

Before this meal, I’d never heard of “hormone restaurants,” but it’s a new Tokyo fad where every part of the animal is offered on the menu. You want to try delicate, thinly-sliced, cow’s diaphram? We got it! And it was TDF. So amazingly tasty.

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Somewhat Perverted, Strange Tourism / , ,

Whoring in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's an interesting town: a lot like Bangkok, but on a much smaller scale.  Hundreds of coffee shops.  Great boutiques.  And old white men with young Thai girls.  Absolutely everywhere.  Old hippies with Thai women in their 40s, and adorable little hapa kids.  Bald and bearded bikers with chubby teenagers.  Backpackers with stunning beauties.  It's not as offensive as it was in Hua Hin, but it's twice as pervasive.

At the UN Irish pub, I joined a group of four older farang, each of whom turned out to have come to Chiang Mai for the women. 

Derek, a 76-year-old cockney, works as a tree surgeon's assistant back home.  He's been in Chiang Mai on and off for forty years, but for three years he's lived here more than not.  "I went into a bar," he says, "And this bird sits down next to me and asks me to buy her a drink.  Now she wasn't what's normally my type.  I like 'em small, you see, and this one's big.  She's got some weight on her.  But I said, why not — thinking to myself it's just one night.  And we had some fun.  Well, that was three years ago, and we're still together.  Thirty six years old, she is."  She's less than half his age.

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Offbeat Museums / , ,

Forensic Science Museum, Bangkok

Deep in the bowels of the King’s Hospital, if you look hard enough, you’ll eventually find the stomach-churning absolutely wonderful Forensic Science Museum. I’ve a weak stomach, but the permanent exhibit here is unmissable. (Photos aren’t allowed, so I apologize for this scarce and clumsy record. You’ll clearly have to go, yourself.) It’s a cluttered mix of photos, bones, corpses, bits of corpses, larger bits of corpses, implements of murder, victim clothing, and a really horrifying stretch of “pickled punks.” Little is labeled, less is explained.

This arm, for example, is simply labeled “tattoo.”

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