I had heard about WangFuJing Snack Street long before I arrived in Beijing. I knew that it would make be an excellent “memory” to tell my friends later. Excellent “disgusting, stomach turning memory”. Hehe.
“The Karate Kid” Connection
My first knowledge came from my research into “The Karate Kid” filming locations. As I was going to Beijing, I wanted to see what parts of the city were used for the filming. I have always been a movie filming location fan. I love the process of film making.
WangFuJing Snack Street just happened to be one of the locations. It was such a brief part of the movie (~5 seconds) that there was no reason to go there to scout the actual filming site. My research, though, exposed me to the unusual foods that I could get there. I was intrigued. I challenged myself to go there and have the scorpions that they showed in “The Karate Kid”.
WangFuJing Snack Street Food Stall Layout and Selection
On the day that I rented a Beijing Eastern Taxi for the entire day, I added WangFuJing Street snack area as one of my stops. My driver and I stopped by there in the late afternoon. There were plenty of food stalls on one side of the street, lined up for about 1/8 of a mile.
Excited, I started to peruse through the “selections”. Bugs, caterpillars, BIG centipedes, silk worm cocoons, etc. Some other interesting delights were sea urchins, sea horses, and spiders. There were lots of “non-american” food choices.
Everything exotic was raw and skewered on a stick, much as you would make a kabob for the backyard grill. You just had to point at what you wanted and hold up the number of fingers to indicated how many. The attendant would then take the stick(s) and place them on the flat grill top, roasting them for a few minutes on each side. Then he would hand your ‘special food” to you with a smile.
Where are the Scorpions?
I was having trouble finding the scorpions. I looked through all the tents, and just could not locate them. My driver did not know what I was looking for and did not understand me. Being the great driver that he was, he called his office and let me talk to a supervisor. I communicated “scorpion” to her, and she told him in Chinese. Still did not see any.
Silk Worm Pupa as Consolation Prize
Well, I was determined to eat something that would turn my friends’ stomachs back home, so I purchased a stick of small silk worm pupas. I think the cost was like 10 or 15 rmb ($1.60 or $2.50) per stick. The attendant roasted them up.
My driver, Mr Wang, would not have anything to do with it. He wandered off to get a regular egg sandwich. If the everyday Chinese would not eat this, maybe that was a danger sign.
With trepidation, I took a bite.
Mmmmmm. I was glad to say that it did not have the yuckiness factor that I expected. It was a crunchy outside with a firm filling. No bad taste, just not much taste at all. No problem. I could eat those all day. I was relieved.
Scorpions At Last!
Just as I ate the second one from the stick, my driver came and got me. He had found my scorpions! Oh boy!
They had small brown ones, two on a stick, or really large black ones, one to a stick. Well, the large black one on a stick was 45 RMB, and the small brown ones on a stick was 25 RMB. The black one looked too scary, so I motioned that I wanted the small stick.
I found that I had spent my last RMB on the silk worm pupas. No problem. My driver bought the scorpions for me. Don’t worry; he did get an extra tip that day. 🙂
I had gotten lucky with the silk worms not being disgusting. How disgusting would the scorpions be? With trepidation, I took that first bite.
Ouch! I poked my lip with the stinger. That was not stopping me. I kept going and bit off half the scorpion. Chewing slowly, I was reminded of crunchy peanut butter. Not bad. Not bad at all. Actually better than the silk worm pupa.
I was not going to have any problem eating this. For the next scorpion, I took the stinger off before biting it. There was a small crowd of tourists watching my reaction to the taste. They could not believe I had done it. But I had, and I was happy. My driver was looking at me as a “crazy American”, but he also seemed to enjoy the spectacle.
Mission accomplished. Scorpion eaten. True story to disgust friends and family created.
But Aren’t They Poisonous?
On a side note, I have been asked about the scorpion venom by several people. I don’t know if these are special scorpions with no venom, or if the cooking destroys the venom. I just went with the confidence that the Chinese government would not allow tourists to be poisoned at such a high profile tourist location as Wangfujing Snack Street.
Hmmm. I wonder if I have any scorpions in the fridge…
Comment below if you would be willing to eat a scorpion on Wangfujing Snack Street.
Additional Reading on WangFuJing Snack Street in Beijing, China
- Wangfujing Snack Street 2: Scorpion’s Revenge! – Tom O’Malley gives more photographic views of WangFuJing Snack Street in Beijing, China. He also relates his first experience eating a scorpion.
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