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Eating Weird Foods in Beijing

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Have you ever thought about eating bugs and other weird foods while traveling abroad? I never had the urge, but I find fascinating that many people do. Sure I will try the local cuisine, as long it doesn’t involve bugs and other “weird foods” that I would never eat under normal circumstances. Putting whatever feelings of disgust I may have aside, I just find it fascinating that people pay for “food” items that are usually considered pests in their home countries.

I mean, would the same people eat these “weird foods” if they were sold at their local markets? I think the answer would be no. I then ask: Why not? Does the fact that a lizard is Chinese make it taste better? From what I observed, most of these creatures were simply deep fried, so it’s not like it was prepared in a special way.

Are we more inclined to be adventurous outside our cultures? Do we feel less judgement? Or does the pressure to “do what others are doing” impact our own way of acting?

I don’t know the answer, but eating “weird foods” is just one of many things that can happen when you are traveling that would not happen at home and I find that change in behavior fascinating. I put myself in more uncomfortable situations, even in dangerous ones when traveling. At home I am a lot more careful and conscientious of the risks I am taking. I have a theory that we experience something akin to a traveler’s syndrome, a feeling of extra safety or a propensity for higher risk taking while away from home. Here is an example, you see plenty of people visiting the Favelas in Rio. Sure these neighborhoods have gone through a process of “pacification”, but the crime rate is still higher than in other parts of the city and yet, tourists flock to these places with valuables in plain view. Yet, if they are from the U.S. most would never dare do the same in some of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles for example.

So why is it that we are more comfortable abroad?

People are not more trustworthy in most other countries than at home. I know that, just like a tarantula is still a tarantula regardless of where it is deep fried. So why do some people feel so compelled to eat them in abroad vs. Times Square? Or would they eat them no matter where they were sold?

I would love to know your thoughts on it.

One thing is for sure. The places that get away with selling these weird foods are geniuses! I mean selling “things” that most people would kill as pests for money? $$ Brilliant! Maybe New York City can do that for rats or cockroaches… Sell it to tourists as a delicacy. Lol!



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