Subways, Fried Centipede, and Neon

Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
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Flag of China  ,
Monday, July 4, 2005

Surrounding the Hutongs is the new Beijing--the concrete skyscrapers, the neon advertisements, the glitzy hotels. Like most Chinese cities, construction continues unabated, and with the Olympics around the corner, Beijing is preparing with gusto. Beijing IS modern. Beijing is modernizing.

Its subway system is in its infancy. For a city of over 10 million people, Beijing right now has only three subway lines: the #1, the #2, and the #13. The #13 might be a foreshadowing of the additional lines into the future: what about lines three through twelve? The three lines hardly cover the vast expanse of Beijing, but it's a start.

KFC, McDonald's, E*TRADE, Rolex, Porsche, Hagen-Datz--they're all here.

Despite the modern feel, with clean, wide and highly commercialized streets, there's still room for eating bugs. Karen, Kevin, Nate, and I headed out to Dongzhimen Street where vendors line the streets in red tents lit under incandescent lights. In their tents are all kinds of meats on sticks. We sampled and reviewed the local fare:

Fried Centipede
The centipede, although toxic, dispels other toxins. Fried on a stick, the centipede tastes unlike anything you will have previously eaten, and not in a good way. The salt on the outside helps. Beware of the sharp legs as they can get stuck on your lips.

Cayenne Frog
Tastes like chicken. Actually the meat is more tender and with a little cayenne pepper, the legs are excellent. The legs can easily become demented puppets to entertain the locals. Poor frogs. Highly recommended.

Deep Fried Silk Worm Moth Cocoon
The silk moth cocoon has a pleasant after-taste of wet decomposing leaves with a crispy outer shell. Great for chasing curious Chinese women, who run away screaming the equivalent of "G-ross!"

Snake
Tastes like chicken. Snake has a delightful chewy texture and goes well with a mild barbecue sauce. Claimed to make you a man along with seeing the Great Wall: "you aren't a man until you see the Great Wall." What if you're a woman?

Fried Grasshoppers
The wings are crispy and salty, the body is full of juicy protein--the perfect food. We surveyed a local who said that fried grasshoppers are: "stupid food."

Beer
Great for assistance in swallowing the cocoons and grasshoppers, which tended to stick to the roof of my mouth like peanut butter made of wet decomposing leaves.

Ice Cream
After eating insects, ice cream is a necessity.
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