It is quite remarkable the length I will go to be a cool mom to my teen these days. I think I succeeded the other weekend when we went on a family outing to the Wangfujing Night Market. Wangfujing Street, in Dongcheng District, used to be called Morrison Street after the Australian journalist, and one of the traditional downtown areas. It starts at the Oriental Plaza and ends at the Xin Dong An Plaza. The street is for pedestrians only and is lined with stores with almost 300 Chinese brands ranging from Shengxifu hat store to the Wuyutai teahouse.
It’s a great place to go to get a Beijing experience. It’s lively, colorful and crowded and when we went, there was an outdoors Chinese opera performance complete with bright costumes and painted faces. We headed straight for the exotic food stalls selling scorpions, starfish, sea horses, lizards, snakes, cicadas and tarantulas, – all on a stick. While my husband and daughter shrunk away from the creepy food stands, my son John (13) and I were very keen to try the scorpions.
We first tried the small scorpions, alive and still wiggling on the stick. They were dipped in hot oil and brushed with a sort of curry paste. They were crunchy and salty.Not bad. I wondered about their poisonous stingers, but I learned that by dipping them in hot oil, that pretty much rendered them harmless. Made sense.
We didn’t stop with those little scorpions – no – we bought a stick with two big black scorpions. John held the stick up to his mouth and took a small bite just as a group of European tourist walked by. They were fascinated, stopped, stared, gathered close to John to get a closer look, and took out their cameras. John was not liking the taste of this scorpion but the crowd was chanting, “Eat, eat” while snapping photos. Being the great mom that I am, I should have taken a picture of the people taking a picture of John but I was too busy laughing.
I waited for the crowd to disperse before I tried a bite of the scorpion (I didn’t want people chanting for me to eat). It was hard to chew, and bitter, and it’s outer shell exploded in a thousand little pieces into my mouth. It was something I never care to eat again, but it was well worth it. I gained a few “cool mom” points that night.
It’s also worth visiting Wangfujing if you want to get an authentic Chinese experience and a taste of it’s history – or, um, a scorpion on a stick.
For more details: http://www.beijingtraveltips.com/trail/wangfujing/wangfujing.htm