Having lived in Asia, the question most asked by those who’ve never been is “Have you eaten <insert completely random animal/thing>?”
The answer is, I’ve eaten a lot of crazy things, but we’ll get to that later. The first thing I want to clarify is that, yes, they DO eat cats and dogs in China, but typically only the uneducated. It is also true that they love taking these animals as pets in their homes, and NO they don’t eat their pets. They are probably crazier about their pets than we are, and they tend to not use leashes in public.
I have an American friend with an awesome dog that just follows him around. He goes in taxis, on buses, chases after him while he’s on the skateboard, etc. The animals that get eaten are strays, and although I’d NEVER indulge the curiosity of what animal a dog or cat most closely resembles to my tastebuds, I can say I’ve come across these restaurants. I’ve also never had the unfortunate pleasure of seeing them hung from hooks, gutted and skinned, however I’ve heard markets exist where these sights are commonplace.
When I ask Chinese people if they’ve eaten dogs or cats, the common reply is “no! only peasants would do that!” It seems that my generation is much more open-minded about human/animal rights, but still a bit close-minded and class-oriented in other ways, which is an altogether different beast I wish to not let out of the cage.
You might see the picture of the scorpions on a stick, and you’re probably wondering if I ate them, right? The answer is also NO! The thought of consuming something with an exoskeleton and claws isn’t quite appealing, when lamb kebabs were being served in the stall immediately to it’s left. (Author’s note: I downed the kebabs in under a minute).
All in all, I’d consider donkey to be the craziest thing I’ve ever eaten. Served cool and sliced thin, you would imagine it was raw beef, but once you pick it up with your chopsticks and put it in your mouth, your brain informs you it’s nothing of the sort. Thankfully, I was told in advance what I was getting myself into, so I opted to try it, but it’s definitely not something I’d care to eat given another chance.
As I was writing the article, I came across this gem, so please give it a read: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-10/17/content_13909761.htm