By Michael O’Connor ’13

On June 3, 2013, in Activities, by Catharine Steffens

Michael O’Connor ’13 Of all the amazing aspects of China that have been magnificently visible on this trip, the most intriguing to me has been the food. There have been four main types of food that has been served on this trip: spicy food, sweet food, dumplings, and the other category. The first three food categories are rather self-explanatory and have all been fabulously delicious. Whether it is the famous 粽子(zòng zi) that is traditionally only eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duān wū jié) or the fantastic 四川 (sì chuān) spicy-style dishes served with plenty of chili and spices, the food has simply been amazing. For me, it really has been the other category that has caught my attention during this trip. This “other” category has mainly been made up of food that traditionally would not be regarded as ‘real’ food back home. For example, before coming here, I would not have been able to find anyone who would have considered Duck’s Blood as ‘real’ food. Yet, in coming here, I have learned that Duck’s Blood is purple-looking, has a similar shape to tofu, and is surprisingly smooth and sweet. Who would have guessed? Certainly not my parents or any of my friends back home. Anyway, this other category is made up of food that is not really considered to be food back in the States, and yet is still surprisingly delicious and nutritious. Even just this weekend, a group of us went out for a nice lunch and Cow Stomach and Donkey meat were served to us. Both were surprisingly delicious (though the stomach was a little bit chewy), I was exceedingly glad that it was ordered and provided for us to try. In my own view, this kind of food that most Americans would gag at brings me closer to the cultural background of the many people who have lived in China. Even today, this type of food is still served and eaten regularly. Why is that? It is because this has been the way that food has always been treated and served in China; none of it is wasted. All of the nutritious parts of the animals that are slaughtered for food and all of the unknown (to westerners) nutritional plants are specifically prepared in ways that utilize all of the nutritional components that can be taken in and absorbed by our bodies. It suggests an atmosphere of resourcefulness and a trace of desperation (in terms of food supply) that I feel is adequately confirmed within the context of Chinese history in both long past and recent years.

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2 Responses to By Michael O’Connor ’13

  1. Peter Clark says:

    We are looking at a relationship with Beijing HS #4 as well, and they mentioned your exchange. Please write peter.clark@smes.org to discuss your experiences with the school.

  2. Deacon Stickney says:

    Michael, thanks for this post. It reminded me of your eagerness to speak about Chinese history in our World Religions class. Keep up your enthusiasm for this culture.



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