I finally visited the notorious Wang Fu Jing Street in central Beijing. A famous shopping district consisting of Zara, D&G, Polo, and many more designer shops lined along a high pedestrian traffic plaza make up what is referred to as the “Shops at WFJ.” If you recall the Jasmine Revolution a few months ago, this was the place that the Twitter post said to meet. WFJ is not only heavily traveled it is heavily traveled by foreigners making it a great place to get the word out about democratic reform. I am being careful not to make this post into a politically charged rant, so I would rather like to change the subject and talk about deer testicles.
Yes, deer testicles. The one thing I did not mention about WFJ and the reason why I referred to it as “notorious” is the snack street that is located on the side of the shopping district. I took many pictures of the odd food served down this snack shop lined street and some of the places cooked delicious food like scorpions, grubs, and starfish…all on a stick. A short list of some of the weirdest cuisine I saw on WFJ sticks were sea urchin, whole baby quails, snakes, and, yes, deer balls! If you are wondering to yourself what these looked like just skim through my pictures and see if you can pick out what is what. If you are also wondering if I ate anything just let me tell you this, it was not the sheer strangeness that turned me off. I have tried some very weird dishes while I have been in China, exempli gratia duck tongue. The thing that actually turned me off was the smell. Not the smell of deer balls on a stick, but the smell of deer balls on a stick that might have gone bad…three days ago. I have been to fish and meat markets and I know the smell of raw food, but this was the smell of food that has turned…violently. If there is a revolution on Wangfujing Street that revolution is coming from all the food on Snack Street that has gone bad and “turned,” metaphorically of course. Call me a wimp for not trying if you will, but the last thing I need is to see scorpion coming back up again. I am generally cautious about Chinese food, and I am not about to be eating some pig kidney on a stick that went bad last Friday.
WFJ is definitely a tourist trap, but it has some pretty delicious treats as well. I had a whole coconut to drink while I ate fried taro flavored ice cream and grilled corn on the cob. It is almost like eating carnival food in the States. The pictures of WFJ do not really do it justice, because I really feel like in order to actually have the full experience you need to smell it too. One second you can smell delicious dumplings being made and the next you are hit with a whiff of squid that has had the pleasure of sitting out in the Beijing Spring heat for six hours.
Tourist trap or not, WFJ is a must see in Beijing and a great place to play a game of who can eat the grossest stuff without throwing up. First prize: deer testicles on a stick!
Jordan J. Foley傅力波