Beijing Perspective, Reflections of a Nutritional Anarchist, by Larry Eder


Dear readers, This column is not for the weak of heart, weak of stomach, or weak of knees. This includes some of my gastronomic adventures in the city of Beijing, along with my to conspirators in gastronomic lunacies.....

In our two plus weeks in Beijing, most evenings on the track were spent writing until the wee hours, and then, Mr. Pat Butcher, Mr. James O'Brien and myself would venture into the netherworld, searching for two things-cold beer, and a fascinating meal. We found them, dear readers and I wanted to share a few with you; Also note, the offending picture I have put at the bottom of the page, and you can avoid if if you want, but it does, shall we say, add color and flavor to a story with much of that.

The restaurants that we ventured to, from the local dives around the Drum Tower, or Gu Luo, featured fresh vegetables, wonderful sauces and animals and fish of all descriptions, normally with the head still attached.

One of our favorites was a large steamed fish, with a beef, tofu and vegetable topping that was very fragrant and tasted wonderful. One picks through the bones and ignores the eyes, as we were also served various plates of vegetables, with spicy peppers and noodles.

One night, middle of the second week, we found an all night Chinese food establishment and it was about two in the morning. We ordered a full chicken, fried rice, spicy eggplant, Ma Tofu and some beer. The beer was the worst part of the meal. Most nights, dinner, a few bottles of beer, for three of us, was costing about $25-$28. Combine that with my taxi (about $10 for hour ride), Beijing has been relatively inexpensive.

Another night, we had a plate of tiny shrimp, which we ate hole. They reminded me of the crickets we used to fry on the street as a kid, and eat on a bet. They were crunchy and actually, quite tasty. On another night, we did have some nice lamb one night called "mutton carried by hand".

It was on the especially late night, however, that we met, Mr. Cluck as I called him. As I was noshing on the chicken with Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Butcher, I went for a last piece of chicken. As I picked it up with my chopsticks, I noticed that their were eyes, a beak and a few hairs on said piece of chicken. Further observation determined that it was the completely scorched head of the lovely chicken that we had delighted on.

It was at this time, as part of the educational service that we do here at, we determined that a picture was in order. Since Mr. O'Brien had the camera, the offending picture and offending former member of a chicken that was once alive, and now serving a higher purpose, was captured.

In China, one eats or is eaten, here is the writer with a former friend, who we had just enjoyed along with a plate of warm eggplant, fried rice, and a steam fish. Oh yes, several beers were in order.

Me and Mr. Cluck....

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