Make it. Eat it. Love it.
When talking about night markets in China and creepy crawly snacks, the Donghuamen Night Market is what will be on everyones lips.
After reading about Donghuamen before leaving for China it was pushed up to the top of my “must do” list. As nightime fell on our second night in Beijing, we headed to off to explore the culinary delights it offered.
Located off the high end shopping street of Wangfujing, this culinary market boasts vendor after vendor selling some of the worlds most exotic street foods. Deep fried scorpions anyone? Or how about a seahorse on a skewer?
As you enter the market through the crowds of tourists gawking at the food offerings and locals scarfing down skewers of meat, you are imeadiately thrown into the world of exotic. The first vendor we
came across was screaming out “scorpions, scorpions, come to try”. Live scorpions skewered on a stick wiggled, still alive, sandwiched between sticks of seahorses and starfish. I cringed as my husband looked at me with a wide smile on his face. I knew what he was about to do. He was handed a bamboo skewer with 3 fried scorpions on it. He looked a bit nervous as a group of tourists gathered around to watch him eat it. He bit in. My husband. Just ate. Scorpion.
Across the way fruit kebobs with candy coating called out to the more faint of heart (myself), fried dough and buttery grilled corn and candied chestnuts lined the next few stalls, giving me a reprive from creepy crawlers. I decided on candy grapes. They looked much more appealing then scorpions and no matter what my husband says, I’m sure they tasted much better.
We walked further into the market as the crowds got thicker and the sky darker. Strung lights and paper lanters lit up the sky and we pointed at unusual looking creatures asking each other “what Is that? We heard vendors yelling out from each direction “lamb, sea cucumber, tarantulas”. Tarantulas? big black hairy tarantulas. I’m glad my husband didn’t want to stop to try one. Though I know the thought crossed his mind.
We tried tofu, chicken balls, scallion pancakes and lamb skewers. Passing up more exotic eats like silk worms, bats and centipedes.
We ducked down a small side alley off the main street to get a bit of breathing room from the crowds. The street was lined with the smallest of restaurants all beckoning you to come eat. We rested at one and enjoyed a beer and noodles as a Chinese opera singer sang from a nearby balcony.
Back to the market we made our way, my husband eager to try more exotic snacks. The tofu and lamb skewers weren’t doing it for him. Snake. He already bought a skewer before I even realized what it was. He held the skewer out to me. I suppose I can’t leave the Beijing night market without trying at least one thing I would usually never eat. I. Ate. Snake. As I bit into the meat, a Chinese man stopped and asked if he could take a photo of me eating it. The little American girl in Beijing eating snake. I suppose it was a sight to behold or maybe it was the disgusted look on my face that was picture worthy. Either way, I. Ate. Snake. It wasn’t as horrible as I thought. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think will be making snake part if my regular diet, but I’m glad I mustered up the courage to try. And, now I can say “yeah, I ate snake, no biggy”.
We finished wandering around with a small stop for one last skewer. Do I dare even say what it was? Monkey. I know, I know, that is as close to human as you can get and morally I felt there was something just wrong with even entertaining the idea of eating it. My brother and father ate monkey unknowingly while in Vietnam, but I knew what I was about to eat. To be honest, with the one little bite I took I don’t even think it really was monkey.
The Donghuamen night market was unlike any market I have ever been to and an experience I will never forget. If ever in Beijing it is something I encourage everyone to see. Even if you go just to watch crazy people like me eat snake!
What’s the craziest thing you ever ate?