A common phrase in the Chinese cooking scene is, “anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible.” So it’s not too surprising that you might eat some unusual food here. For a long time, university canteens have been brave enough to introduce various bizarre examples of what’s called “dark cuisine” (黑暗料理, hēi àn liào lǐ), which has been nicknamed “the ninth major cuisine” by students (China famously has “Eight Great Cuisines“). Though the dishes are intensely spicy and oddly matched, they are especially popular in the dining hall simply due to curiosity. Here are some special foods that have appeared in some school canteens in Beijing.
Stir-fried beans with orange
This first appeared at the Renmin University of China, which announced it as containing a variety of vitamins. The canteen’s ayi is also very proud to help students become healthier.
Fried fish with orange, cucumber, onion, egg, banana, and cherry tomatoes
On the second floor “western food” area of the canteen in the Affiliated High School of the Renmin University of China, you can find this colorful creation. Some netizens think it’s such a complete and affordable dish that people can just eat one meal a day.
Watermelon and fried banana
At Beijing Sport University you can find students lining up in front of the canteen window to buy this special dish: watermelon and fried banana. “They must have really good cooking skills to keep those fruits in shape after frying,” a Weibo user commented.
Cucumber fried with orange
At Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, this combination is quite popular among girls since it’s healthy and low in calories.
Weibo users have differing opinions about the “dark cuisine”. Those who don’t like it express doubts about the food’s safety, or even joke about the chef suffering from a broken heart. On the other hand, some people feel that it would be interesting to try, and might even be healthier than normal canteen food.