Snack Street

Snack Street, Wangfujing

Stumbled upon this smokey alley here while smelling around the eastern side of Tianamen Square for something to chow down . They call this place by a convenient name, SNACK STREET. Fine. Unfortunately, they don’t serve Krispy Kreme here. Only the not so conventional ones: arachnids, reptiles, pipe-fishes, bugs etc. In other words –the macabres.

“Welcome to Snack Street, tough guy!”

Nothing unusual with these once-feathered creatures but the array knocks me down with feathers

The Chinese has the final say: “Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible.” Take their word for it. It’s just a matter of tolerance level for what is “anything.”

Baby scorpions

Baby scorpions

Baby scorpions up-close

Baby scorpions up-close

Exotic is a subjective word. What is unusual to others may be  conventional to some.

Exotic is a subjective word. What is unusual to others may be  conventional to some.

Krispy Kritter

Krispy Kritters

Starfish etc.

Reptile You Drop

Hair-raising hairless tarantulae

Hair-raising hairless tarantulae

Didn't even cared to know from what part of what being these white edibles are. But my local péngyou's smile here looks suspicious

Didn’t even cared to know from what part of what being these white edibles are. But my local péngyou’s smile here looks suspicious. Now I believe, the best way to a man’s heart –depends on geography.

124 thoughts on “Snack Street

  1. I was down this st. a few weeks ago. I’m not going to lie it was quite the scene but I thoroughly enjoyed everything I got there. Except for a very rude vendor who refuse to give back my change and had his knife against my throat. I had to throw my food at him and walk away. But nonetheless, interesting!

    1. Refusing to give back your change (in some cases they return phony currencies) and sticking up a knife against your throat, that’s one clear-cut MUGGING! But you know these things are all too common in the streets and market places in Beijing (and any parts on Earth) that we can write these things down in our list of “AS EXPECTED..” when seeing places. Talk about touring hazards. But at least you return him the compliments. Did you got him with the sharp end of the stick? LOL. Stay safe, evergreen.

      1. This is the first – and I mean the FIRST – time I have heard of a tourist being mugged with a knife here in Beijing where I have been living for 2 yrs. I am from London, a city where mugging is a commonplace, and as a 60yr old woman I have never felt as safe as I do here in BJ and I go out and about on my own day and night. It is most surprising that it would occur in ‘Snack Street’ which has huge numbers of tourists all the time, in fact it is permitted to remain in that location specifically for tourists, on the whole you won’t see locals snacking there, and therefore is quite carefully policed.
        As to weird and exotic foods – offer a slice of blue cheese to a Chinese person and watch them gag! In Europe small birds (quail/ortolan/larks) have been eaten for centurys, just not on Africa roasted mopane worms are a popular snack – we all have our own versions of what is unpalatable!

  2. So…Did you try any of it? I was there just a few weeks ago. Scorpions from the first vendor off the main pedestrian market (he’s got them live on a stick before he cooks them for you fresh)…they’re not too bad…crispy, salty, a hint of garlic 🙂

    1. Yes i tried 2 pcs of the little scorpions, picked them alive, placed in the grill, and in seconds they’re ready and they taste exactly what you said. You know what they said about these critters giving your body some heat? It’s true

  3. They do serve baby scorpions and tarantula? Eww. I wonder how is the taste. BTW what’s that above the tarantula pic?? Looks like a gecko. Eww. As for the white ones, I think they’re some kind of worms. Did you try some of those snacks?

  4. I don’t believe I had the “opportunity” to saunter down that street when I had my own occasion to visit Beijing. Interestingly and “luckily” enough, a member of our group struck up a conversation with a complete stranger – a local – who took it upon herself to be our guide for the evening. Had it not been for her, we may well have found ourselves in a situation similar to evergreen.

    As it was, my teammates and the guide wanted us to have authentic Peking Duck as we were of course in Beijing. I’ve had duck, and Peking recipe too before. I was still unimpressed, especially by the sauce – but then, I’m not that big on condiments.

    As for the assortment of unusual fare, I think that’s got to be a mixture of things. Sure, the Chinese people have a wide variety of tastes, but I suspect much of this kind of thing is mostly for show, for tourists and the wealthy. I could be completely wrong. That said, on two separate occasions during my trip we went to what were billed as high class restaurants and I was served a number of dishes that I know I didn’t normally see during my two month tour of China. I would not say that rooster comb, boiled baby octopi and some sort of minute dried yellow fish are standard fare.

    And people say that we Cajuns eat some unusual things…

    1. I believe the Great Leap Forward era, when millions were hunger-struck, is one factor that forced these people to be “innovative”. But that was then. Today, these exotic stuffs are mostly for show. You are right.

  5. Beijing is heaven for people who like traditional Chinese foods or snacks.

    However, I am familiar with those alleys in China as a native Chinese, where you could meet all kinds of Chinese people, bad or good. My advice is that you can go to these places for sightseeing but never buy things.

    Wish you have a good time in China.

  6. You said it! “Exotic is a subjective word. What is unusual to others may be conventional to some.”
    I’ve read about people eating insects as a more environmental choice of food, since they reproduce so much quicker than other types of proteins. Once I fight off the gag-reflex, logically it makes sense.
    Great photos, but I think they’re as close as I’m going to get.

    1. By Western standards (or other cultures), these things are exotic. In the Philippines, we have our own bizarre goodies too which, to some folks, are typical dinner-table stuffs.

  7. I have to admit that most of this gave me the heebiejeebies. I’m not a fan of bugs in general, especially not eating them, but it is interesting to see! Call it my morbid side 🙂 Beautiful photography. Thanks for sharing!

  8. OMG. I’ve seen weird foods but this tops it all. I thought the scorpion and spiders were gross until I saw what looks like a rat or bat. Great post. I was brave of you to take these cool photos. I probably would be nauseaus if I was there myself. Congrats!

  9. I was in Bangkok a few weeks ago and my Thai friend brought me to this market place where some of the delicacies are also available. Did I try? I think I prefer McDonald’s : )

  10. i dare not to eat these insects,also it is rich in high protein,maybe one day,i would like to have a try.after all,we’d better do something we haven’t imagined before.thanks for your photos

  11. Wow. Yes, subjective indeeds, as is ‘edible’. Good to try things while abroad and (try to) be open. Were you brave or did you stand mostly behind your camera, eating vicariously?
    Great shots!

  12. Fraternal Greetings. The People do not let anything go to waste that is good eating. Some things are not the good eating.

    “In 1849, hungry gold miners crossing the Nevada desert noticed some glistening balls of a candy-like substance on a cliff, licked or ate the balls, and discovered them to be sweet-tasting, but then they developed nausea. Eventually it was realized that the balls were hardened deposits made by small rodents, called packrats … Not being toilet trained, the rats urinate in their nests, and sugar and other substances crystallize from their urine as it dries out … In effect, the hungry gold miners were eating dried rat urine laced with rat feces and rat garbage.”

    – Collapse by Jared Diamond

  13. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I was a little confused when I saw the title of your blog, “Malate” but the post was about China, then I looked around and found you are in fact based in the PI. Your pictures are amazing. Starfish? Scorpions? It looks pretty creepy. All a matter of taste, apparently.

  14. uuuuhhhhhggggg… these are the famous Wangfujing snack stalls aren’t they? I was there in 2009 and thinking about it STILL makes me shiver. I’ve eaten some pretty weird stuff in China but I don’t think there’s much that could get me to eat one of those scorpions.

    Have you ever asked your pengyou how he feels about blue cheese? My friends hate it 😛

    I’m loving your photos, by the way!

  15. I think I’ve seen this on an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Would like to go there sometime. But I think my stomach would only tolerate about 10% of what’s there. Lol

  16. Oh my…oh my oh my…I can’t even tell you how sick I feel after reading this post and seeing the photos. Oh the horror!!

    Still, it’s a pretty cool post…haha. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 😀

  17. Great post! I have to admit scrolling down I was afraid what creepy crawler would come up next! Great photography too.

    I wouldn’t last at all on Snack Street. Thanks for sharing and Bonne Chance!

  18. i’ve been there before 😀 I bought a grape + caramel kabob. Seemed among the most appetizing choices 😛 Love your pictures.

  19. Good gracious. How … different and exotic and just plain gross in my opinion. I will never in my entire life eat something with many spindly legs. Or eat suspicious white innards. The scorpions and tarantulas really appall me. I don’t have much of an appetite now. But thanks for sharing anyway. 😉

  20. I’m from Beijng and most people I know won’t obey the saying “Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven is edible.” It’s just a saying. The snack street, the way you translated it doesn’t really fit the word’s original meaning. You can’t attribute Chinese “snack” into things you mentioned in ur article, cuz we have fabulous cuisines that are gorgeous enough that people from China don’t even understand why would Americans eat food like Macaroni n Cheese. No offense. But I think in describing food in a particular country, the description can be less stereotypical. Food indeed is a culture, and that’s why shouldn’t be stereotyped narrowly.

  21. Wow, this reminds me of a recent visit to Taiwan and China – lots of night markets. I tried pigeon and octopus but probably couldn’t handle the stuff shown above! Maybe scorpions….maybe.

  22. I can’t even imagine stomaching some of these critters, and I consider myself and adventurous eater. Bon apetite! Congrats on being FP!

  23. Interesting photos! There’s one that disturbingly looks like a gecko. Urgh! Then again, what’s that compared to drinking coffee beans collected from animal poo!
    I think we humans have taken our passion for gastronomy one step too far!

  24. A Pinoy in search for realio, trulio manly-man food? Nice! Congrats sa pagka-Freshly Pressed!
    P.S. Would it be so wrong to admit that your photos made me drool? Because they did.

  25. I am a vegetarian, so it certainly a place not for me.

    One of my veg friends had been to Vietnam. the only thing he found to eat in one of the places was plain rice, a large green chilli and vinegar.

  26. Wow! I go to various areas in Mexico every year and see their street food in various markets and stalls etc. But, these photos give new meaning to what I term street food. Fantastic shots!

  27. I haven’t met a food that I wasn’t willing to try. Granted, I haven’t come across spiders on a stick yet…I do wonder though, if some of these foods are actually delicious or if they’re eaten for bravado.

  28. Yeah, I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to dry out those street foods. Maybe if they had some rice barbecue sauce on some grasshoppers or crickets I may try them, but probably not scorpions and starfish… nah, I’d probably pass on those.

  29. Well, this is the first blog post I’ve ever shared on Facebook. It’s just THAT disgustingly good. Ew.

  30. I’ve been trying to get a crunchy tarantula from Think Geek for the past couple of months, but every time I get on their site it’s out of stock. I’ve heard from a few people that scorpion is actually pretty good. I’d be interesting to try once and then tuck that memory away somewhere to collect dust and never let it gross me out again. HaHa!

  31. I went to Beijing and saw the snack street food.Gosh! Its just weird to see the street food, “sparkling” waiting for customer. That’s why I love traveling, we able to see weird things!

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