Six Weird Chinese Foods You’ll See Every Day

China is famous for some of its eating habits. The Chinese themselves even have a saying: “the only thing with four legs we won’t eat is the table”. To foreigners, some ingredients are truly outlandish, like the insects found at Beijing’s Wangfujing market. However most Chinese people don't eat those, and even fewer actually eat other infamous foods such as dog meat. Here are some weird dishes that most Chinese actually eat on a daily basis:

 

Chicken Feet

 

Chicken feet seem to be the must-buy snack for any Chinese long-distance traveler. Aboard trains or buses they are as ubiquitous as instant noodles and sunflower seeds. There isn’t much meat to be gained from gnawing at these bony claws, but it’s the flavoring — salty or spicy — that makes it worthwhile. Actually, on a long journey you need something to do, and nothing kills the time like making sure you’ve really nibbled off every last bit of feet meat.

 

Organs

 

Whereas most westerners are used to eating meat that once was a muscle, Chinese people aren’t nearly as fussy about their food. Pig liver, chicken heart, cow stomach, the list goes on. Pig intestines are perhaps the most commonly eaten — they can be fried, stir-fried, boiled, or put on the barbecue. They’re also used to make sausages.

 

Stinky Tofu

 

A dish that is best described as something akin to a fried, smelly sponge probably does not make your mouth water, but that’s what stinky tofu is … kinda. Stinky tofu’s origin story is even less appealing than its description. According to one account, someone once forgot about their tofu long enough that it had gone bad. They decided to fry it up anyway. It turned out quite OK, and stinky tofu was born. The dish comes in different variations, some are white and don’t smell all that bad. Some are black, and are even more of an acquired taste.

 

Preserved Duck Eggs

 

There’s nothing really that weird about eating eggs, but Chinese people like to eat those that have been kept in salt and various kinds of ashes for months. The result is a dark, nearly black egg that actually tastes nothing like an egg. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves with this one:

 

Brains

 

Besides zombies, Chinese also have a fondness for brains — animal brains, that is. My grandfather is fond of eating fish heads, but when I was young he would always leave the brains for me, saying that it would make me smarter. The brains of China’s favorite animal — the pig — are usually eaten as a hot pot ingredient. Boil to taste and slurp away.

 

Weird Pizzas

 

Although China’s cuisine is varied and very tasty, many Chinese have developed a taste for something foreign every once in a while. But it sometimes seems the recipes have not been translated very well. Take pizzas for example. Few restaurants that offer the dish have resisted the temptation to completely re-imagine what ingredients can be used as toppings. Many places offer fruit pizzas — a trend even international brand Pizza Hut has recognized with their latest offering: Durian pizza.

 

Maria writes columns for the GoEast Blog on studying Chinese and Chinese language. She completed her MA atBeijing Foreign Studies University and has over 6 years experience teaching Mandarin. She founded GoEast together with Wang Rong in 2010.