One of my more controversial posts from my time in South Korea remains “Dining on Dog“. As simple as the title suggests Koreans have long eaten dog due to them believing it has some sort of magical healing properties. Dog muscles are allegedly like human muscles so eating canine meat assists the healing process for humans.
It’s a load of tosh, but I did try it… and it tastes terrible, so I don’t eat it.
People in Western countries find the concept of eating man’s best friend abhorrent, with some acquaintances boldly stating they would and could NEVER, EVER possibly eat dog meat.
Those people are liars who have never truly been hungry. When the local shops and supermarkets are stacked to the brim with options, and a delivered meal is only a phone call away chowing down on a pet seems unthinkable. Post Korean War where food shortages ran rampant, it becomes people before pets. Cultures developed differently.
During my recent trip to Luoyang I managed to enjoy three exceptional dining experiences. All memorable for different reasons.
The first appeared in Old Town, where at the adorably obviously named North and South Street meet East and West street… I’m at the center of the universe and it is in Luoyang, Henan Province, China!
Take that Toronto! China called dibs first.
At the Center of the Known Universe around 5pm, North street for a block becomes street food haven, with all sorts of fried, grilled, boiled, cooked, squeezed, blended and sprinkled options for hungry pedestrians.
(A follow up photo-blog will show just how many options it offers.)
One morning TaiGi, from Fujian Province, a Chinese guy doing an extended tour of China asked me if I wanted to try donkey soup for breakfast.
“No… but yes,” I replied.
We struck off across the street in front of the hostel and within 100 meters of the place we entered what could only be a donkey restaurant.
We entered the place and clearly this place focuses and fixates on donkey, from the donkey on the menu on the wall (beside the proudly smiling chef – he either loves or hates ass), to the plate of donkey parts near the entrance to the kitchen make no mistake this place is all about the ass.
In fact, the sketchiest part of the meal occurred when placing our orders and seeing the bristly chin hairs protruding from the jaw of some dead donkey.
Two bowls of donkey soup later, with complimentary bread because I’m a foreigner, and we tucked in to break our fast.
Donkey tastes nondescript. Truly. Nothing like chicken, but like slightly stringy beef or pork or perhaps yak (which I have yet to try, but know it is available in China or Tibet.) I didn’t expect it be so average, and that’s not truly a complaint but when sampling exotic dishes I want it to be something memorable, and the meal was… it was donkey but the taste not so much.
I doubt Westerners oppose me dining on donkey as much as dog because of the popular image of dog versus donkey.
If someone offered, I will eat donkey again. I found it to be palatable. Not my favourite meat ever, with a texture a bit coarser than a fine steak but nothing a few spices and proper preparation couldn’t improve upon.