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Face to Face

January 30, 2009

We stare at each other.


Chinese meals are always delicious. Deep fried, roasted, braised, steamed – it’s all good. I particularly love how the dishes are served in the centre of the table so that they can be shared. There’s no sudden feeling of dissatisfaction when it turns out that someone else at the table ordered something more fabulous than I did. I get to have my fill of every dish, each morsel contributing a layer of fabulousness to the kung fu trifle in my tummy. In short, a gastronomic orgasm.

As delightful as Chinese food is however, I am always aware that a sudden attack of squeamishness may be but a dish away…


I swallow hard as the waiter sets the next course on the table.

And gaze at the contents of the platter in trepidation. It stares back at me in silent reproach.

The roast suckling pig has been halved from snout to tail. It embraces the platter, little trotters sticking out at its sides and mouth frozen in mid-oink. My dining companions lean forward, chopsticks raised in anticipation.

I want to cover the unfortunate piglet’s head with my napkin.

It still unsettles me when my food arrives with head attached. Opaque fish eyes staring unblinkingly at me, a gaping mouth displaying an impressive row of needle-sharp teeth. Or the head of a duck arranged neatly atop its roasted body, with beak politely closed as all well-mannered ducks have been taught to do. Baby octopuses perched neatly in little saucers, their bulbous heads waiting to explode between teeth.

Yes, I find it very unsettling indeed.

“Come, eat some suckling pig!” My father’s friend (who is paying for the dinner) rotates the platter in question towards me.

I make a feeble excuse, but he is not easily put off. “Why? Don’t you eat pork?” he asks.

My mum answers before I can. “Of course she does, she loves roast pork!”

“Then eat! Take a big piece for yourself!”

I’m fighting a losing battle. Soon he’ll say that he ordered the dish just for me and that I’ll hurt his feelings if I don’t try it. Although I’m pretty sure that the only one with hurt feelings was the piglet, I can see that I’ll have to be brave and just eat the damn thing.

But it is hard to tuck in when your food has a face. I feel like I should apologise before I stab my chopsticks into its rump. I suppose I should just be thankful that they couldn’t fit a cow onto the table.

What turns your stomach?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2009 1:50 am

    You can’t lose weight during CNY. The more you want to lose the more ppl will force you to eat. Just give up and wait till the end of CNY 🙂

  2. January 31, 2009 9:30 am

    ooohhh la la ~~

    roast pork….
    I love those roasted skin type that they serve during wedding dinner…

  3. Chubby Zebra permalink*
    January 31, 2009 5:30 pm

    Jessen: I lost 3kg just for my trip home! And I’ve put almost all of it back on again, lol.

    Lisalicious: Is that the sort that comes with or without the pig’s head?!!

  4. Cheryl permalink
    February 1, 2009 5:52 am

    I have another flatmate. She’s a British white girl who’s a Vegetarian.

    One evening, me and my other Msian flatmate decided to grill some Teriyaki marinated Salmon fish-heads (they’re HUGE and only 25p each from the wet market!)…you can guess the Brit’s reaction…

    She postponed dinner for awhile, while we occupied the living room, smacking our lips and licking our fingers…

  5. February 1, 2009 9:26 pm

    Nothing turns my stomach!

    We Chinks are notorious for eating anything that moves!

    On the point of the suckling pig, I had half the pig to myself the other day because half the table thought it was too cute to eat. A few years ago, I would dismiss their (and your) behaviour as hogwash, because hey, it’s just food….

    But I’ve grown older and wiser. I have learnt to respect people’s squirmishness. After all, less men, more share…

  6. Chubby Zebra permalink*
    February 3, 2009 8:34 pm

    Cheryl: YARKKKK!! I hope no one ate the eyes!!!

    Vincent: Think of your cholestrol!! Suckling pig is nothing but crackling and fat! Anyway, would YOU eat monkey brains? (I heard that the monkey is tied to a table, its skull cracked open, and everyone tucks in while it’s still ALIVE!!!!)

  7. February 4, 2009 5:48 pm

    Cholestrol?!? Wot?!?

    Eat first, die later.

    Live monkey….that’s just cruel. But I would eat it if it was killed first. By the way, have you seen how they kill fish in Chinese restaurants?

  8. Chubby Zebra permalink*
    February 4, 2009 10:56 pm

    Wait til you have a heart attack at the dinner table and drown in a bowl of shark fin soup!

    Gleep, what a horrible curse! I take it back! Quick, go and touch wood!

    Your lack of a gag reflex scares me. Have you ever eaten brains? And no, I haven’t seen how they kill fish in Chinese restaurants. I don’t want to either. And no, please don’t describe it here. There’s no need. Really.

    I have however watched a tv program where someone deep fried HALF a fish and served it while it was still ALIVE!

  9. Chubby Zebra permalink*
    February 4, 2009 10:57 pm

    That must be my new catchphrase: “It was still ALIVE!!”

  10. February 5, 2009 6:10 pm

    Pig brain soup got. This was after a camping trip with some vegetarian angmohs. Also, we caught jungle frogs and brought it to the restaurant. One of the frogs was so freaked out it pissed on her when we took it out of the bag. But I think that kinda braced her for the pig brain soup she saw us eating.

    Okay I’ll spare you the details.

    But if you are just a wee bit curious, have a look:

    I know you want to…..heheh

  11. Chubby Zebra permalink*
    February 6, 2009 11:12 am

    Oh Vincent!! Where was the disclaimer for the frog pic!!! I am scarred, SCARRED!

    What does brain taste like? And what’s the texture like? I imagine it’s somewhat rubbery on the outside and creamy (ICK!) on the inside.

    The most exotic food I’ve ever eaten would be iguana soup. Although I suspect it was actually monitor lizard soup.

  12. February 8, 2009 2:24 pm

    Kinda like liver. Or smelly cheese.

    Soft and gooey.

  13. Chubby Zebra permalink*
    February 9, 2009 5:15 pm

    Both equally disgusting…

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