Some weird stuff we eat...
Squirming snakes and deep fried LIVE fish anyone?
The still-twitching snake meat I can deal with, though I can't imagine it tastes very good raw.
But scaling, butchering, and frying a fish alive is pointless and vicious.
That's freaking gross!!
Snake tastes just like chicken. Or is it that chicken tastes like snake?
Originally Posted by johndoughy
mehh, some cultural foods are weird.
I could stomach it but I wouldn't ask for it.
certainly wouldn't bother wanting to learn to make it.
Sigh. This is the part of my heritage that I feel most disturbed about. Chinese by birth, but living apart from them so I can't begin to descibe how distanced I feel from some of these "cultural" foods.
Essentially I believe the core theory is that there is an insistence on freshness as freshness is a depiction of quality. There are lots of genuine food quality issues, scams and fraudsters in China, so i think they consider live foods a mark of the highest quality.
In fact it is common practice in seafood restaurants for them to bring the fish to your table in a styrofoam box to show you that it is alive and jumping prior to them cooking it.
I completely don't agree with the way these things are done. I have heard about this dish many times (the fish, not the snake), but never saw it. Now that I've seen it, I wish I never did. The snake was killed by decapitation, so fine.
But I don't see the point of descaling and removing the guts of a fish while it is still alive in a way that tries to prolong its life. That is just unnecessary cruelty.
Other dishes that are cruel in china:
1) Eating horse/mule meat carved from the horse that is walked to your tableside. You select the meat portion you want, they scald the horse in the area with boiling water from a large pan, then slice off the chunk of meat onto a plate for you. It is cooked directly at the table, or eaten blanched. The horse is then taken to the stable to 'rest'. Might be served a few times in a night, then is allowed to heal and recover from the wounds, then is served again once the meat grows back. (Heard this from a few chinese students in Australia who were reminiscing about the foods that they missed. They found it funny that the horse would go through this again and again. I felt so sad for them)
2) Everyone has heard of the monkey brains story, where live monkeys have their cranial lobes chiseled out as they are confined to a table with a hole cut out only large enough for their head to be held in place, the rest of the monkey is below the table. People then scoop out the still warm brains with spoons while the monkey blinks and screams and thrashes. (Multiple recountings, 2 claimed eye witness accounts, not verified. But everyone has heard of this practice)
3) Tenderized venison: a deer is placed in a small pen, and staff standing around cane/whip it continuously, so that it panics and runs circles around the pen. They keep it up till the deer collapses from exhaustion, then butcher it immediately and cook it. Diners are allowed to watch to verify the process if they wish. The whipping is supposed to increase blood flow to the muscles and tenderize the meat and improve the flavour of the animal.
Never ate any of these things. Never will. Disgusting practices.
I'm southern Chinese, and there is a premium placed on freshness - but not to the point of cruelty like this. Fish still live in the tank when you order is good. Fish scaled and cooked alive is not. I don't know what area of China this contest took place in, but it is a disgusting practice and I find it shameful.
The only appeal that I can think of about these dishes - the ones in the video and the ones Tristan described - are either the gross-factor (so you can brag that you eat this way) and the power factor (I can do whatever I want to anything I want).
This isn't cooking. This isn't seeking the ultimate in freshness. This is barbarism only barely masquerading as adventurism and culinary art.
There are lots of things to be judgemental about. As long as we eat animals there will be Some cruelty. Just to what level. I used to think hunting was cruel. I realise now it might be the best way of getting food. The animal suffers very little and has a good run of it in the natural environment before a predator takes it out. Hunting for food is fine. For the same reason I prefer organic farmers and free range whatever... improve the quality of life. At the end though, we just are trying assuage guilt from food or make moral choices.
I DO think the snake in the video is ok eaten that way. I mean, beheading means it is dead right? Fairly straightforward butchering. The gross part is eating it while it is still squirming in its death throes. Same for squid/octopus. It'll squirm long after you dispatch the animal. Frogs too, if you are skillful at butchering. You can get them on the plate raw and twitching.
I wish things were just butchered quickly to reduce suffering. Also wish that commercial farming was less cruel in terms of the way animals are reared. But we all make our individual choices, and a few billion choices then add up to shape the world we live in.
True, the snake is alright - it died quickly. But the fish really didn't need die in a prolonged, painful fashion.
Commercial rearing and processing of livestock does have its issues as well. There's no getting around the fact that we're eating other animals, but there are better ways to raise and kill them than others.