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avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

Pig brains

CHINA | Wednesday, 12 March 2008 | Views [1792] | Comments [1]

While this title could be a reference to anything...it is in fact a reference to the cerebral matter of the animal that is the patron of my Chinese zodiac year.

In my rush to recount my Spring Festival travels, I forgot to mention it.

I forgot to mention that I totally ate pig brains.

Weird things I've eaten are not limited to the muscular fiber of various animals (although I have eaten that portion of several odd creatures). It's not even limited to the other normally edible parts of these animals (even though this category seems to be unlimited). But it now includes the spongy matter that allows one fat animal to think.

While in Chengdu, we had hot pot several times. Hot pot is delicious. It's a traditional Chinese dish, and Sichuan (the province Chengdu is in) is famous for it. It's basically a big pot of boiling oil with excessive amounts of spices in the middle of the table. You then order whatever you want to cook in the oil and cook it as it suits you. It's spicey. It's hot. It's extremely tasty.

Mario hates it. He doesn't think that a trip to a restaurant should involve cooking your own food. In fact, he would prefer that he didn't have to order. "Just put food in front of me," is how he thinks about meal time. And he'll eat anything. His adventurous pallet puts mine to shame.

On our first hot pot excursion in Chengdu (one of three), You ordered for us. She briefly looked up from the list of foods to eat to say, "Do you need pig brains?"

Ilan is a vegetarian, so he deferred to Mario and me. We kind of balked for a minute. Then, recovering, we said, "What?"

She explained that it was her favorite dish when she was a child. We looked at each other skeptically, and then said, "What the hell?" We ordered pig brains.

It was the last portion of the meal. You suggested we eat it last because it would get destroyed in the hot pot while cooking other foods. The pig brains (small, very brain like, whole) sat in a pool of blood and other bodily fluids while we enjoyed lotus roots and strips of lamb. Yum yum.

Nearly full, it was time for the pig brains.

Delicately placing the brains in the hot oil, we waited until they were cooked.

"You don't want to eat them raw," advised You.

We agreed.

After a few minutes, we pulled out the brains and investigated. They still looked very much like brains. They color hadn't even changed with the cooking. Mario pulled off a big chunck and looked at it hestitantly. Then, with a bout of bravery and curiosity, he devoured it.

Immediately he put his elbow on the table and rested his head, chewing. He was thinking. He was not making a pleasant face.

I pulled off a tiny piece and ate it with the enthusiasm of a man contemplating a four course meal of different types of animal shit.

It had the consistency of silly putty. The kind you make yourself. Out of glue. And then put on the newspaper so it picks up the daily headline. It's taste. Nothing good.

I didn't enjoy any more pig brains.

But Mario, always trying to learn, put another huge chunk in his mouth to try to decipher the flavors of brain. Another elbow plopped on the table. Another brain resting there. Another awful face.

After that, he had enough. We never managed to place the taste, but we ate pig brains. That's enough to brag about for me.

The second time we ate hot pot in Chengdu, You inquired again while ordering for the table, "Do you need more pig brains?"

Mario and I simultaneously decided without hesitation, "NO!"

Tags: food



this is hilarious!

  lauren Mar 18, 2008 3:22 PM

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