Tonight is the night where I do something that would disgust and upset most people. Asia has many foul foods, but the century egg is a legend, and I am reviewing it for your pleasure!
There are many demented practices in Asia, and the consumption of offensive culinary treats accounts for most of the horror stories in that category. I have long watched particularly Americans protest, gross out, cry, and vomit at the mere sight of a century egg. This made the century egg one of the first things I wanted to try when I set foot in Asia.
I prepared for the worst, but before I give you my personal verdict about the taste (if I even got that far) of an authentic century egg, let me share some cultural background about this dish.
A bit of history about the Century Egg
This egg is NOT a hundred years old, despite what American TV presenters would have you believe. The prefixed word ‘century’, in the name century egg, is merely there to indicate to you the amount of time that will pass before any sane person would summon up the courage to attempt eating one of these things again. The century egg has long been used as a form of torture on reality TV shows; it has cost many a Survivor tribe member the immunity idol, and has singlehandedly stopped everyone from stuntmen to army generals in their pursuit of the $50,000 prize money offered on Fear Factor.
Like many barely edible morsels in Asia, the century egg comes with its own set of mystical properties said to provide healing and wellbeing to those who would consume it. Long rumored as a cure for dementia and even impotence (though most likely the cause of both), the century egg has been used in an assortment of Asian dishes, all of which are rumoured to stun or even kill the average mule.
How a Century Egg is made
It starts with a dark room, black candles, and robed figures exclaiming Gregorian-esque chants over an innocent egg placed on a bloody altar…. Sorry, wrong story.
The reality is that the century egg starts life out as a normal chicken or duck egg that is placed in potash and left to ‘cure’ for about a week. The term ‘cure’ makes one wonder if that’s a hint they give so you know what the first thing is that you should seek out after consuming this delicacy.
My Review of the Century Egg
When I initially ate a century egg (several months ago already), in the moments before shoving a piece in my mouth, I proclaimed, “Today is the sort of day that makes me long for the snake-infested fields of my youth.” I recorded a video of my conquest, and it is completely devoid of the spectacle you may have come to expect when a century egg graces the Caucasian pallet.
Honestly, I love century egg. It tastes far better than a hard-boiled egg (something I usually dislike) and it has no foul odor at all. It actually smells a lot less offensive than eggs normally do. The taste is soft and quite neutral (like egg yolk, just creamier), but it is a bit sticky and can make your teeth look green if you don’t have the sensibility to flush it down with—as per my recommendation—some alcoholic beverage.
As a supplementary ingredient, century egg is popular in dishes ranging from porridge to noodles to soups and salads, and often proves a superior substitute in any dish that calls for hard-boiled egg(s)—provided one can stomach the swamp-green colour the century egg imparts to the dish.
However, the best way to have century egg is cut into wedges and topped with a little bit of ginger while swimming in a sweet sauce. Once sampled in this form, one can never live a happy life without regularly enjoying this appetiser.
I thus find it utterly shocking that century eggs are so reviled and that the western media takes every chance it gets to portray this treat as one of the foulest things a person could ever attempt to eat.
Some may say I am taking offence on the behalf of a culture that I only pirated. True, but what South African would stand silently and watch the international media present biltong as a vile piece of rotting meat that induces vomiting and unconsciousness at the mere presentation of it? Such drama, though amusing, is unnecessary, artificial, and merely playing on the ignorance of people who need only see a repulsive piece of footage to forever make up their minds as to the wholesome nature of certain edible cultural artifacts from distant countries.
If you ever get the chance to eat a century egg while meandering about Asia, try it! You will realise that the worst thing about century egg is how people paid to act on television react to it.
Vote for which ‘weird food’ you’d like me to sample and review next:
· Frog soup
· Turtle soup
· Shark-fin soup
· Pig organ soup
· Fish head + eyeballs
· Birds-nest soup (made from bird saliva, yuck!)
· Stinky tofu (fermented, and rotten tofu that you can literally smell from a block away)
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