Some people have a sweet tooth. Some can’t live without chilli. Some like it plain.

And then there’re those with somewhat different tastes . . .

Chongming, Shanghai, China

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Mud mixed with salt, lime, and baking soda.

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Wrap it around duck eggs.

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Century egg, also knowns as hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, and black egg.

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Kept in the shade.

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The proteins inside the egg undergo drastic changes.

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30 days later, the eggs’ physical and chemical transformation is complete.

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皮蛋 century egg

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If you’ve never tried century egg before, it’s hard to describe to you the taste.

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It’s nothing like boiled or fried eggs.

The egg white turns into a translucent layer that tastes a bit like Jell-O. It sticks to your teeth as you bite into it, a bit like sticky rice.

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The egg yolk is soft, dense, and has the consistency of paste. It smells pungent, a bit like rotten food, but different. As you bite into the egg yolk, the pungent smell travels straight up your nostrils.

I can’t finish one century egg on its own. I have to add either vinegar or chilli oil, or some kind of sauce, anything to cover up the uniquely pungent, and to some people, off-putting smell.

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If it smells so bad, why do you still eat it?

Well, why do people still eat durians?

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Fuhai, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China

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Residents harvest these plants as tall as an adult.

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The leaves are removed.

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The thick stems are cut into short segments,

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washed, then sprinkled with salt.

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They are kept in an earthen jar in the shade.

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Two weeks later.

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霉苋菜梗  preserved edible amaranth stems

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It has a strong, pungent smell.

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I’ve never tried this before, so I can’t tell you if it’s the same as century eggs.

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But I know it’s nothing like Sichuan preserved vegetables. slide28

Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China

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The water used in making preserved edible amaranth stems is recycled to make other foods with equally “interesting” tastes, like tofu.

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臭豆腐 stinky tofu

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The smell of stinky tofu can cause some people to cross to the other side of the street, but it has its fans.

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蒸双臭 steamed “double stinky” (edible amaranth and stinky tofu)

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The dish on the right is

霉千张 “mouldy” tofu slices

The dish of “meatballs” on the left is

霉毛豆芋艿 “mouldy” edamame and taro

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Växjö, Sweden

Eating food with special flavours (translate: stinky) is not a specialty of the Chinese.

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Siw, a resident of Sweden, has to give her neighbours advance notice when she wants to have a dinner party with her friends.

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The reason:

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Brine squirts out even before the can is opened (god I can smell it through the screen)

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鲱鱼罐头  Surströmming

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Some can’t wait to taste it.

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Some can’t stand it.

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LOL, DIY defence against the smell.

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The Baltic herring looks just like any other normal fish.

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How can they stink up an entire building?

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Every April to June, factories in this town get busy.

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The Swedish have been preserving the Baltic herring with salt in wooden barrels since the Middle Ages.

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The invention of modern canning methods made the food available year round.

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They’re soaked in concentrated salt water for 24 hours.

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The blood water that’s squeezed out of the fish is used in the production of the canned fish.

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Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France

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The most famous product made here bears the name of the commune—Roquefort.

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Rye bread

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is used to cultivate penicillium roqueforti, a fungus named after the blue cheese it helps to produce.

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A basement full of cheese. Maybe this is what Monica’s dream house looks like.

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friends 1friends 2friends 3

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The milk needed to produce such cheese comes from the Lacaune, a breed of sheep in southern France.

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Whey is separated from the cheese.

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Cheese cut into tens of thousands of small pieces.

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Sprinkle some penicillium roqueforti.

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Once they come out of the mould,

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They are rubbed in coarse salt.

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The entire wheel of cheese is pierced by long stainless steel needles to make holes.

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霍克福蓝纹奶酪 Roquefort blue cheese

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Phú Quốc, Vietnam

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What stinky treats can be found in the Gulf of Thailand?

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Fishermen are looking for a type of fish less than 10 cm long.

Anchovies.

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They are immediately cured with sea salt.

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There are over 80 giant wooden buckets here.

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Each one of these holds 14.5 tonnes of anchovies.

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Layers upon layers of anchovies and salt.

It takes at least a year of fermentation.

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鱼露 fish sauce

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Made with the juice from fermented fish and shrimp.

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You can dip anything in it: tofu, vegetables, meat.

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The first bottle of fish sauce collected upon completion of fermentation is tested with palm sugar and green mango.

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Fish sauce to Southeast Asian cooking is like soy sauce to Chinese cooking.

It’s used in

椰青炖猪肉 coconut braised pork

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香煎军曹鱼 fried cobia

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烧烤黑虎虾 grilled giant tiger prawn

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Mangshi, Yunnan Province, China

People here also like to make sauces.

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柠檬蘸水 lemon dipping sauce

Made with freshly squeezed lemon, diced garlic, coriander, chives, xiaomila chilli pepper, salt, and MSG.

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油辣子蘸水 chilli oil dipping sauce

Made with chilli oil, peanuts, sesame, sesame oil, garlic, and coriander.

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腌菜膏蘸水 fish mint dipping sauce

Made with xiaomila chilli pepper, fish mint, culantro, garlic, ginger, salt, and MSG.

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荆芥蘸水 jingjie dipping sauce

Made with jingjie (a type of plant that’s a relative of catnip), xiaomila chilli pepper, and garlic.

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煳辣子干蘸水 dried chilli dipping sauce

Made with ground dried chilli pepper, salt, and chives.

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百香果蘸水 passionfruit dipping sauce

Made with passion fruit and cilantro.

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番茄喃撇 tomato dipping sauce

Made with tomatoes, onions, xiaomila chilli pepper, and spring onion.

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树番茄蘸水 tree tomato dipping sauce

Made with peeled tree tomato, xiaomila chilli pepper, coriander, and garlic.

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干豆豉蘸水 black soybean dipping sauce

Made with dried, fermented, salted black soybeans, with coriander, garlic, xiaomila chilli pepper, salt, and MSG.

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Looks like the people there have invented a different dipping sauce for each type of food.

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To be continued . . .

Yunnan residents are crazy about their sauces. They use it in everything.

Someone went to Yunnan, ordered French fries, and instead of ketchup . . .

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image source

 

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About fmiswriting

One out of 1.4 billion voices.

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