Monday, October 30, 2006

Barbecued Sparrows

Last week, the other teachers and I ate dinner with the some esteemed guests. It was basically kind of a wine and dine to keep this particular party happy. We wanted to make sure we impressed them, so we gave them free reign of the menu. They ordered some fresh yogurt to drink, which was quite a treat as fresh milk is extremely hard to find here and quite expensive. (I want to point out here an interesting note that 'yogurt' in Chinese is '酸奶' which literally means 'sour milk'. I actually told my students why it's important to always say 'yogurt' and not 'sour milk' when asking for it in English.) They then ordered some great food, including fresh cuttlefish, spicy river snails, chicken feet, and my new personal favorite: barbecued sparrows.

The best thing about them, (besides the taste, and the fact that they were
barbecued sparrows), was that they were actually served to us in a birdcage, each one perched symmetrically on their perches. As I expected, no one in our party made a sudden lunge for them when they were placed on the table. But they were just too interesting to me not to dig in.

I put one on my plate, kind of looked at it, then asked our guests "这个怎么吃?" ("How do you eat this?") They explained to me you can just eat the entire bird whole. The bones were small and soft from being cooked, so you can just throw the whole thing down your mouth, head and all.

So I gave it a shot, and cracked right through the bones to the little meat that was there. To those of you 'never try things, knock it before you tried its', it wasn't just not bad, it was definitely the highlight of the meal! It was cooked with this really sweet and tasty barbeque sauce. I ended up finishing two of them, but on the second one I just couldn't bring myself to eat the poor little guy's skull. I just left his long neck and beaked face on my plate smiling at me.

I actually have pictures this time, check it out:

This is how they came presented to us.

We took them out of the cage and onto a plate for easy access.

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