My Dinner Is Staring at Me

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Like many gourmands from North America, I like meat.
My dinner plate is not complete unless there is a large steaming hot piece of protein-laden meat on it.
Red meat, white meat, ground meat, seafood - it doesn't matter.
I like to eat meat.
In North America, it is easy to forget that our delicious meat comes from God's animals.
We eat cheeseburgers, ham, pork chops and steaks without even a thought of the living, breathing source of our meal.
Would we be as enthusiastic about eating hamburgers if every burger came in a package with a picture of Bessie the Cow smiling at us? Would we love our pork chops if we were reminded that Porky Pig gave his life that we might munch? Would we still order fish and chips at our local English pub if we knew we were eating the Little Mermaid's friends? If we knew our meal personally, would our enthusiasm be the same? In Taiwan, it's hard to ignore the origin of your meat.
Whether you buy it at the market, or eat it in a restaurant, little details serve to remind us where we should truly give thanks for the food we are about to eat.
Chicken is served with the head and feet still attached.
There is no bigger eye-opener in Taiwan than to dip a ladle into a big soup tureen full of delicious-smelling chicken soup, only to ladle out the chicken in its entirety, head and feet still attached.
If you get the feeling that your meal is staring at you, you're right.
Fresh-cooked fish still has the head and tail.
Whether boiled, baked, or deep-fried in batter, the fish comes with the eyes, and we're not talking about tapioca.
Even the squid come with their original tentacles and suckers, often impaled on a stick and barbecued as a snack in the night market.
Meat offered for sale in the market is often still alive.
Aeration hoses run into plastic containers containing crabs, lobsters, turtles and other succulent seafood, still swimming in oblivious enjoyment.
Birds-of-a-feather hang together in the butcher's window.
Pig heads, pig feet, snake soup and entrails, fish heads, quail eggs and other unrecognizable foods are all available to the discriminating diner.
Now, the final course, the piece de resistance, the magnus opus of the Taiwan kitchen - chicken balls.
No, we're not talking the North American faux-Chinese chicken cubes in batter.
We're talking chicken testicles, farmyard Viagra, guaranteed to return youthfulness and vigor.
I don't think so.
Some things just aren't worth it!
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