Kermit, I really hate to say it, but you taste good! In case you are a little slow, (in my country we like to say TVB or traag van begrip or langzaam van begrip, LOL), me apologizing to Kermit and telling him he tastes good, means that I ate a frog. Well, a toad, to be exact. Frogs are too small to eat (I think), toads are bigger and have more meat. And that rhymes, I ROCK! *menatlly high-fiving myself.*
I never thought I would actually eat Kermit, but you really never can say NEVER. Before I came to China, toads disgusted me. Not that I would yell and run away at the sight of one, I’m not THAT girly. Last year I went to the market and saw live ones in a cage. The vendors said they are not from swamps, they are “grown” or “fed” or “bred” (what’s the word? If you know, please enlighten me. THANKS!) especially for selling to restaurants and Kermit-eating-people. Why not just say “toad”? Look at the picture below.
How did this happen? It was Christmas time, and one of my students invited me out to dinner. He has become one of my favorites. I helped him to pick out his English name, which is Bowie. Always up for something new, he asked me if I would like to try 田鸡王. The first charcter, 田means “earth; soil; land.” The second character, 鸡, means “chicken,” and the last one 王，means “king.” Would it be right to say that I ate the “soil chicken king”?
We bought each other gifst and exchanged them. He gave me some kind of flute. It has a name, of course, but I can’t remember it at the moment. The flute is so amazing, I still need to try and play it. That day I also ate pig’s lungs. Don’t cringe, it was pretty good. Chinese people say that you haven’t been to China unless you’ve been to the Great Wall. Well, my saying is, “You haven’t been to China unless you’ve tried some weird food.”
I liked the pig’s lungs. No idea that I would, but it tastes really good. But, one of my new year’s resoutions is to cut back on the pork. Haven’t eaten pork in twelve days! HOORAY! In China it’s not uncommon to find a strand of hair in your food, you just take it out and continue eating, LOL! When in Rome, do as the Romans do. After two years of living here, I don’t pay attention to these things anymore. If I do, I will starve, because I don’t always feel like cooking. Sometimes during my meal, I can hear the cook in the kitchen, spitting LOUDLY somewhere… maybe in the sink, I have no idea. It’s China, baby. You get used to certain things.
If ever I am in the company of someone and there is an awkward silence, I can use this to get a conversation started again. *Awkward silence* “… So, you know, I ate a frog once. A toad, to be exact.” Bet you’re wondering about the taste, right? Oddly enough, it does kind of taste like chicken. A weird chicken that ran way from it’s home, and mixed with some other animals, so its taste and texture changed a little. But it can pass for chicken, if you haven’t eaten chikcen in ten years… then yeah, it tastes like chicken.
VOILA! The toad! It comes with some kind of spicy/sweet and sour soup with vegetables. It really is pretty good. Again, this is something I never thought I would say. EVER!
Of course I was sick afterwards. In China, they don’t really care about food safety. Finding a restaurant with a B is like looking for a needle in a haystack. See, in every single restaurant and coffee shop, there’s this big board that lets you know about the food safety. They are graded as follows: A (Excellent), B (Good), C (BAD). The only place with A (the smiley face emoji) is Starbucks. I haven’t come across many restaurants with a B (no smile, just so-so). But 95% of the restaurants and coffee shops I have been to, have a C. That is a BIG RED EMOJI with a sad face. You know what’s even funnier? All of those C restaurants and coffee shops are FULL!
It really bothered me during my first year here. I thought it was the Chinese board of health’s big FUCK YOU to consumers. “We have already told you that you might get food poisoning and die if you eat here, but that is up to you.”
Go figure, LOL!