Asian Oral Adventures
In Asia, the saying goes: “We eat anything with four legs except a table and anything that flies except an airplane.”
For decades in America, I had a limited definition of the word “food.” The most sinister items were found at state fairs where you could find almost anything fried on a stick. You never really knew what was inside the crispy yellow crust until you took your first bite. Here they actually do have anything fried, dried or live, on a stick, in a bag or squirming in a pile—lizards, bugs, spiders, balls of mystery meat and every molecule of the chicken. Before living in Asia, I’d never really considered certain things could be food. Fried Dog was in the same category as a fire hydrant. Or a Buick. They eat lots of dog in Vietnam, but hearing about a dog delicacy is enough for me. I love to walk the dog but it’s not spelled “wok the dog.”
One room service menu in Vietnam had a “Special Dishes” category with sea crab, swimming crab, cuttlefish, clam, turtle, snake, eel, buffalo meat, frog, bird meat, fresh water fish, and “many kinds sea fish,” but it was the “Forest Specialties” that truly set my hotel in a class of its own—deer, wild boar and weasel. Yes, weasel, delivered right to your room! No preparation descriptions. Weasel sushi? I ordered two snakes and a weasel to go, planning to savor an eel and buffalo omelette in the morning.
The very fancy Food Fart Restaurant in Hanoi had a splendid list of entrées I didn’t dare order, but plan to rush back during my next life as a goat and try them all…
Russia’s Broiled Meat Assorted wild animals from Chernobyl, perhaps? Cooked in the woods until they glow in the dark?
Undercook Veal With Lemon “Gee whiz, thanks for under cooking the calf. I like my worms lightly warmed.”
Frog’s Trotterclip In Flour Fried
I’ve tried the legs, but “trotterclips?” Are these very big frogs? Do you ride them in?
Desiccation is not a restaurant word. The “Dried Up As A Result Of Removing Water” Chicken does not whip taste buds into a ravenous frenzy. Considering all the spelling errors on the menu, they may have meant “Defecation Chicken.”
Baked Thick of Chicken
I’m thick of chicken. We had it jutht latht night and I’m tho theriothly thick of it.
Enterocoelous Of Chicken With Fried Baby Fresh New Corn
(The word “enterocoelous” was not in my Vietnamese Phrase Book. It sounds like a fatal disease, maybe the technical term for bird flu. Do you think “baby fresh new” is repeatedly redundant over and over and over again?)
Stick A Lobster in Cistern
“Mr. Waiter, do I have to eat it in the cistern or do you take it out for me?” Dictionary says: Cistern—a container in which water is stored, esp. one connected to a toilet or in the roof of a house. This could certainly have been Defecation Lobster. Although very clear regarding “cistern,” no online dictionaries mentioned “enterocoelous” or “trotterclip.” They must be local words. Very local to this restaurant only.
(After considering these selections, weasel sounded relatively tasty.)