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

By David Ferguson
China.org.cn staff reporter

The frogs were a great local delicacy. I ate perhaps four – maybe even five. It seemed like many more.

The frogs were a great local delicacy. I ate perhaps four – maybe even five. It seemed like many more.
There is a very popular local dish called huo guo ("fire-bowl"). It's a type of communal bouillon-based fondue. You have a big copper bowl in the center of the table with soup stock in it, heated by charcoal or a gas element. Around it are piles of vegetables, and often seaweed, and whatever meat you are eating, all raw. You throw all the stuff in the bouillon and let it cook, then fetch it out with your chopsticks. Afterwards you drink the soup. 当地有一种非常受欢迎的菜式叫做“火锅”,做法类似于用清汤作锅底的芝士火锅,是大家围在一起吃的。人们把一个装着汤的大铜锅放在桌子正中央,下面用木炭或气体燃料加热。锅子周围摆上各种蔬菜,通常还有海菜和各种肉类,全都是生的。你把所有的食物丢进汤里,让它们在里面煮熟,然后用筷子夹出来吃,最后把汤喝掉。
This meal started with tasty fish huo-guo, and continued in similar vein for some time. At length, a little puzzled by the non-appearance of the frogs, I asked my friend when we would be eating them. 当天那顿饭就是以美味的鱼肉火锅开场的,接下来的步骤也都差不多,吃到最后也没有看见青蛙的影子。我有些奇怪,于是问朋友我们什么时候可以吃到青蛙。
"Right now!" he replied. Reaching beneath the table he produced a white plastic bag full of frog cadavers, and grabbing several fistfuls, he hurled them into the huo-guo bowl. They were whole and unskinned, but at least they were mercifully dead when they went into the water. “现在就可以!”朋友回答说。他从桌子下面掏出一个白色的塑料袋,里面装满了青蛙。他就从里面抓了几把丢在火锅里。那些青蛙都是整只的,没有剥皮;至少值得庆幸的是,他们在下锅的时候已经是死的了。
After a few moments in the broth they began to swell up, and bobbed around on the surface with their heads poking up like fat little drunk men in lifejackets. All too soon, it was time to enjoy the flavour. 青蛙在汤里煮了一会之后开始膨胀,上下浮动,头从汤面上探出来,好像一个个身穿救生衣的喝醉酒的小胖子。转瞬之间,就可以开吃了。
It transpired that these were pregnant females from the start of spring. This being the case, their bodies had atrophied over the winter, and there was no meat left on them, nor anything else that even a Frenchman would have recognized as edible. 这些都是初春时节带着卵的母蛙。因此,经过一冬天的消耗,它们的躯体已经很干瘪了,身上根本没有肉,就算是法国人也找不出有什么可吃的地方。
The trick was to pull their heads off, taking the backbone away with it. You were then left with an egg sac on each side of the body, accompanied by a gobbet of fat – this fat also being the source of "frog oil", a prized and expensive ingredient that is of considerable importance in local Chinese traditional medicine. 吃青蛙的窍门是把脑袋拽下来的同时,也顺带着把脊柱一起抽出来;剩下的就是身体里一边一个的卵囊,还有一整块脂肪。这块脂肪能够用来提炼蛤蟆油。在当地的中药里,蛤蟆油是一种重要成分,药用价值极高,当然也贵得要命。
The frogs were a great local delicacy, and had cost my friend the astronomical sum of nearly a pound each. This being the case, I was obliged to enjoy them as much as my Chinese friends seemed to, and I did my honest best. I ate perhaps four – maybe even five. It seemed like many more. 青蛙是当地有名的美食,这顿饭花了我朋友一大笔钱,几乎一只青蛙价值一英镑。既然如此,我就有义务像我的中国朋友们一样吃出享受的样子。我真的尽力了。我一共可能吃了4只,或者是5只,但感觉好像吃的远远超出了这个数字。

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