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Fishy tales. And heads. And dogs and frogs... (I)

By David Ferguson
China.org.cn staff reporter

The first dish I was ever served in China was cold pickled chicken's feet.
The first dish I was ever served in China was cold pickled chicken's feet.

The very first time I arrived in China, my wife and I were collected at Beijing airport by one of her friends, who insisted on taking us for a sumptuous lunch. It was about four in the morning UK time, and, as ever following a long flight, I was feeling queasy from the lack of sleep and the alcohol that had failed yet again to induce it. Sumptuous lunch was not high on my agenda. 我第一次来到中国的时候,我妻子的一个朋友在北京机场迎接我们。这位朋友坚持要带我们去吃豪华大餐。当时是英国时间凌晨四点,我在长途飞行过后通常会有些反胃,因为在飞机上难以入睡,不得不求助于酒精,却又无济于事。在这种情况下,当务之急显然不是去吃大餐。
On that day, the first dish I was ever served in China was cold pickled chicken's feet. It's hard to describe what these are like – "imagine eating a cold, pickled, chicken's foot" is about the best I can do. They consist of skin, bone, cartilage, and a claw. Once you've developed a taste for them, you can move on to hot spicy chicken's feet, although I didn't try these until later. 那一天,我平生在中国吃的第一道菜是一盘腌制过的鸡爪冷盘。我很难向你描述这菜的味道,只能说:“想像一下你在啃一只冰凉的、腌制过的鸡爪子。”它们吃起来全都是皮、骨头、软骨和脚爪。等到你吃惯了这道菜,可以进一步去尝试麻辣鸡爪,不过我是到后来才做这样的尝试的。
My local food market in Jilin is a cavernous hall – a riot of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, oils, meats, poultry, and (mostly live) fish. It's almost, dare I say it, "vibrant". 在吉林市,我家附近的菜市场是一个宽广深邃的大厅,各种瓜果蔬菜、油盐酱醋、鸡鸭鱼肉、生鲜产品,应有尽有,琳琅满目;简直可以用“生机勃勃”来形容。
The first time I saw a dog's carcass for sale I was quite startled. It was skinned whole, from the nose to the tip of the tail, and it lay on the market butcher's slab like a white marble statue. Dog is primarily a Korean dish, but Jilin Province borders on Korea so there is a strong influence on the local culture. Eating-dogs are farmed for the purpose – a big, mastiff-type breed. 第一次见到有人卖狗肉时,我吓了一跳。那只狗整个剥了皮,从鼻头到尾巴尖都光溜溜的,躺在市场肉铺的案板上好似一座白色的大理石雕像。狗肉本来是道朝鲜菜,但是吉林与朝鲜接壤,所以当地受外来文化影响很深。食用狗体态很大,属獒犬类,是专门养殖以供食用的。
As a general rule, dog is good to eat, apart from dog skin salad, which I generally try to dodge. Peppery dog soup is an effective hangover cure, and fried dog, in flavour and texture, is somewhere between beef and brown turkey meat. 通常来说,狗肉很好吃;不过凉拌狗皮除外,我一向对那个敬谢不敏。辣味狗肉汤对于解除宿醉有奇效;而炸狗肉吃起来,味道、口感介于牛肉和棕色火鸡肉之间。

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