Food Reviood: Chinese Chow-wa-wa
One thing I did immediately notice that one couldn't help but: The eyes had been removed. I said nothing at the time, figuring it was part of the dish somehow, but they were presented to me separately in a smaller dish, served chilled. They had a grapelike mouthfeel on the outside and the consistency of the smoothest custard inside, with a light briny flavor and a chewy strand of optic nerve to add textural complexity.
The only unpleasant spot was the ear-- or, I should say, the left ear. After taking a bit of it and being greeted with an unpleasant sourness, I mentioned it to the chef. He took one look and realized that this Chihuahua was suffering from an infection in its left ear. He removed the infected ear and apologized profusely. The right ear, on the other hand, was delicious. A short time after this, a complimentary bottle of wine was stealthily brought to the table. They thought I wouldn't notice, but I did!
The pads of the feet, considered a delicacy, didn't quite suit my fancy. They had the texture of pencil erasers, but tasted like gamey pork. Not my thing.
Sitting around, chatting, enjoying our wine, we began sitting back and loosening our belts, discussing politics and customs, really getting comfortable. I thought I wasn't ready for dessert, but one of the guys sitting with us began prodding with chopsticks and expressed alert at something inside the dog. What a surprise! The pup was pregnant.
At this time I found myself awash in emotions of all types. Was I a monster? A pioneer? Had anyone in the Western world ever done this, or almost as important, would they ever again? I ripped my phone from my pocket and tried to begin texting my wife back home for moral guidance, but the chef gently grabbed my phone and put it down. He assured me that not only was this normal, it was safe to eat, and in fact-- the embryos inside were even more delicious than the rest of the meal. He even called for a certain bottle of wine to be brought to the table to pair them with. I was absolutely floored by the thoughtfulness and caring of the restaurant staff. When you come to a place like this, you truly are family.
The embryonic fluid surrounding the pups had congealed a bit during the slow and methodical cooking process, and became a slightly greasy, pink, salty jelly. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be the fluid at the top of a can of SPAM. Except this was good. The embryos were then popped, one by one, in fashion similar to the stuffing. There was bitterness, sweetness, soft portions and miniature bones which would break with just a bit of tongue pressure. Nothing I say could do it justice.
I've heard of dogs described as the forbidden fruit of the culinary world. Judging by my recent experience, I can say for certainty that this is for no good reason. It is the 21st century, after all! You and I (yes, I'm guilty too) sit around after work, stuffing ourselves with hyperprocessed foods, year-old freeze-dried potato snacks, fruit that actually isn't (think Pop Tarts), and what do we have to show for it? Soaring obesity rates and health problems. I'm not suggesting that eating a Chihuahua a day will keep the doctor away, but let's be realistic. We have perfectly good food, let's eat some of it!
This article was written with the advice and input of Dr. David Thorpe.