Celebrity author Zhang Lijia is annoyed by the British colonial attitude towards China, as urban myths on dog meat, donkey penises and other ‘weird’ food get the major focus the British, ignoring the country’s great cuisine, she writes in The Guardian.
China has a fabulous and sophisticated cuisine, but westerners always focus on the tiny percentage of what we eat that is weird. And the very good reasons that the weird stuff made it into Chinese kitchens is never mentioned: Chinese cuisine is very much a famine cuisine; historically, Chinese people have had to make use every bit of available resources.
A few years ago, when the comedian Paul Merton came to China to make a travel documentary, I was invited to take part…
Merton was genuinely interested in learning more about China, but the director whisked us away to the restaurant where all sorts of animal’s male organs were served. Eating animal’s penis is thought by some to improve a man’s performance in bed. But this is not something that runs deep in Chinese culture – there are only two penis restaurants in China, and both belong to the same owner. The crew spent hours tirelessly filming us eating stir-fried bull’s penis, snake’s penis in a soup and a large boiled donkey’s penis. Poor Merton struggled and even threw up at one point.
In the final film, the donkey’s penis dominates the scene. Our serious discussion was edited out.
Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch.
- Dealing with identity – Zhang Lijia (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Why the Chinese read less books – Zhang Lijia (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Why censoring the “Super Girl” show does not help – Zhang Lijia (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Peter Hessler, the inspirator of my memoirs – Zhang Lijia (chinaspeakersbureau.info)