From the Archive: Street Food, China

Street food, China. © www.thomaspickard.com

Street food, China. © www.thomaspickard.com

Over the years, I have eaten a lot of different foods. Some of the more unusual foods - for me at least - have been jellyfish at a Chinese research station in Antarctica, Minke whale and seal on the west coast of Greenland.

Of all these foods, Minke whale tasted pretty good. I’d eat it again if the opportunity arose. Jellyfish didn’t really taste like anything and the variety I ate tended to have a somewhat prickly texture. Given I was a guest of honour, it would have been rude to have declined, so I wolfed it down, as they say.

While seal is loved by the Inuit and is a staple in the traditional diet and clothes making, I would only ever eat seal again if I was either a guest of honor or was literally dying of starvation. I remember vividly, the day an Inuit guide said to me “in winter, after we’ve shot a seal, we drink a cup of blood while it is still warm. Keeps you going all day”.

Food is a reflection of culture. I’m sure some people are shocked to read that I have eaten Minke Whale and that I would again if the opportunity arose. Thing is, in a lot of countries, whale consumption is a cultural way of life. To be clear, I’m not talking about Japan and the thin veil of hunting whales for scientific purposes, when in fact they are eaten.

If you ever want to be challenged by what people eat, China is a great place to face your fears…