Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cornish Carnivore-ish

A popular pastime and topic of our ex-pat adventures here in China is the food.  We are often asked how we like it and what we are finding savory and interesting.

Upon arriving, the Big Guy's Chinese co-workers were very curious to know just how adventurous he was going to go with the taste-testing of their local cuisine.  
  • Would he eat the cafeteria's FREE lunch? 
  • Would he try the 'mystery meat' platter at a team dinner function? 
  • Could he stomach this or that without grimacing or hiding a textured piece of something in his paper napkin? 
  • Should we 'freak-out' this meguo ren (American) & watch him squirm or turn green?

Proudly, he can say he has passed many a test of the above but he has also learned that to fit in you don't REALLY have to say YES to everything that is set before you.  Thank-you, adult sensibility!

Here is a list of what we have tried or been offered while in China.
Sparing you our choices, just ask yourself if you would
taste, chew AND swallow the following:

camel meat
10-day old fertilized eggs (yep...had a chick embryo within)
blood soup
tofu in more varieties than you can imagine 
donkey meat
squid paste
lamb entrails
fish head soup
dragon fruit
coconut juice
guava juice
drinks with gelatin cubes or bubbles that sneak up your straw & slip down your throat.

Among the things we miss about home is the variety and high quality meat readily available.  Fresh ground beef has evaded us and because I married an English man who is quite meat-protein driven, that has been a challenge. The Big Guy KNOWS his meat.    With co-worker Julia's help he purchased a meat grinder to fill the gap. This also counts as a project, which the Big Guy has been lacking since we arrived. 
Here's proof of my favorite carnivore's utter happiness with his new machine:


Now that we've cracked into November and the ever so slightest breath of Autumn has whispered in my ear I've begun the turkey search in Nanjing.  Angie reports that years ago a cousin brought one in a cooler on the 14-hour flight from the USA with great success.  But that was before airport security was on 'lock-down' for such carry-on baggage, we think.  

With my wheels swiftly turning, maybe, just maybe, Thanksgiving 2011 could sport a duck instead of a turkey. That sounded both reasonable and doable at the same time.  The city of Nanjing is well-known for it's duck.

Then the thought of a long table of guests, pumpkin soup, mashed potatoes,stuffing and a petite Cornish hen on EVERYONE's plate drifted into my mind and olifactory memory senses.  That could be the answer, I thought to myself. 

Gee whiz, Martha Stewart herself would gobble up that idea!

During our last trip to the market I plowed through the frozen bin to take a prospective peek at the Cornish hens.  With a "Heck, why not try it out first," from the Big Guy, I plunked two of them in the shopping cart and rolled on.

Still wrapped they safely thawed in a bowl of water for Tuesday's supper. My friend and neighbor Kim sat at the counter while I prepped the two birds.  Both were thawed and ready to be rinsed, patted dry and seasoned to await my baby table-top oven.  Real ovens are few and far between in China and these gals may fit side by side in my Pampered Chef round baker, I thought.  

I unpeeled the plastic. Digging my two fingers into the front and back cavity I came across an unwelcome surprise. "Look at this!" I exclaimed to wide-eyed Kim. Out popped an attached hen's head and from the other end, two complete feet!  Yep, nothing goes to waste in China and I had the entire hen looking at me...kinda, sorta.  

I put on my brave face, grabbed the kitchen shears and with three deep and really hard snips did what I'm told my grandmother did. Game Over. And then I did it again on number two.. 
I know you wanna see, right?

The roasting went well and the taste-testing was worth the trauma - well, MY trauma that is. 
And the villa smelled as if it were November in Michigan which was one of my ulterior goals. This Cornish hen feast has potential.

Speaking with my friend, Franziska, she reports that across town there is a market to pre-order a turkey.  Yet another opportunity for feasting.

Cooking requires math skills.  So I put mine to work on the following equations:

Number of Guests - 13 approximately

13 Cornish Hens = 13 Hen Heads + 26 Hen Feet  = 39 WHACKS

 (this time with a cleaver, I've decided.)


1 large Turkey = 1 Turkey Head + 2 Turkey Feet  =  3 WHACKS

If I went with the Cornish Hens, I bet I could send home the 26 Hen Feet with my Ayi who would speed off on her scooter thinking she just scored BIG TIME from the wasteful American.  (That Cricket, always thinking of others...especially in November.)

Thanks for Reading,



Becca said...

Eek! At the sight of those heads and feet I would probably have dumped everything into the garbage! lol

Great news about the hamburgers though...maybe you guys can open a Red Robin franchise!

Angie said...

omg, i missed you hacking off hen heads & feet.... darn it!

Franziska Ritz said...

Once you get used to hacking head and feet let me know!
BTW, the head is actually quite tasty.....

Glee said...