Chinese Takeout

From Conservative Magazine:

The Chinese probably eat the world’s greatest diversity of wild beasts. As their national appetite grows, American biologists are wondering, where have all the turtles gone?

There is an often repeated Chinese joke that says, “In southern China people eat everything on four legs except tables, everything that flies except planes, and everything in the water except boats.” I had heard the saying before and already knew that China is arguably the world’s most adventurous culinary destination. Over the decade I had lived in China, I had learned that almost everything that moves is considered edible. I had been served snake soups and tiny pigeons roasted on long skewers. At a banquet in Sichuan province, the host had placed a heaping mound of fried bees in front of me. I once reluctantly joined two friends for a boiling hot pot meal that included the genitals of various animals. I had passed countless restaurants displaying a wide array of unusual food: in backwater towns, restaurants commonly displayed the skinned carcasses of cats and dogs, their muzzles frozen in permanent snarls; in wealthier cities, seafood was more common—giant shark fins, sometimes tied in red bows and always bearing outlandish price tags, held prominent space in front windows; turtles and fish peered with dull expressions from dirty glass tanks.

And I had seen more exotic fare. At the edge of a national park in Hunan province, a restaurant owner had shown me a thick black snake that she said was called the “three-step”: one bite, and the victim would take three steps before collapsing. Boiled, it cost a few hundred yuan. Outside a wildlife sanctuary in Sichuan province, an official happy to be hosting an American guest presented me with a plate of what he said was a wild local deer. He told me it had been killed in the park and was healthier than farm-raised animals. To maintain our friendship, I took a few bites of the tough, gamey meat. A Chinese friend described being served meat from wild pangolins and monkeys at an expensive restaurant in southern China.

More here.