There is a unique restaurant in Beijing - Guo-li-zhuang, a specialty penis restaurant that opened just in time for the Olympics. Their fare includes penises that once dangled proud and strong from yaks and oxen, seals and dogs, horses and donkeys. You name it, they have it!
I am mostly a vegetarian but I am planning a trip to Beijing soon and I am not taking my wife with me. She's an absolute vegan. When she was last here in China she was shocked when our companion stopped mid-track and slapped the trunk of a tree, picked out a dead insect that looked like a cricket and promptly dispatched it's edible portions into his mouth.
He looked happy and said it was delicious but my wife! She was shocked. Later, he took us to a restaurant where stir-fried crickets were the specialty of the house. We couldn't say no as our companion was hosting two Germans, as well, who were willing to try anything. The restaurant floor was stacked inches deep with left overs of crickets, their shells and the like. If that was bad for my wife Beijing would be murder.
China Daily described the restaurant as being 'situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake'. Penises or testicles are a part of every dish at restaurant. Of course, one has the option of choosing one's favourite - yes, penis!
Chinese cuisine, developed over thousands of years, considers not only taste and appearance but also the medicinal value of food. Traditional Chinese Medicine has long relied on animal body parts to heal and give health and vigour.
Eating is believed to increase the yang essence or virility. It's believed to be good for both men and women. But, testicles! They're for men only, unless women are game for an extra dose of testosterone. However, testicles are believed to be good for the skin and women interested in adding that extra sheen can venture to try some.
For first-timers, the recommended dish is a huoguo or a hotpot, a dish filled with chicken stock and a sampling of six different penises. The restaurant boasts trained waitresses and also a nutritionist, ready to explain the medicinal value of different foods to ignorant or curious clients.
The restaurant 'showpieces', the imaginatively named "Head crowned with a Jade Bracelet" (from Xinjiang horses) and "Dragon in the Flame of Desire" (yak - steamed, fried and flambeed) priced at US$35 (RMB 280) and US$50 (RMB 400) respectively, don't come cheap in a country where some families survive on less than that for a month. But, gourmet penis dining is not for the ordinary folk.
But, if this sounds expensive, a portion of Canadian seal's penis (advance order booking necessary), at US$380 (RMB 3000) will leave you poor indeed!
Beijing, here I come! (I hope my wife did not hear that!)- Address 34B Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng district, Open 11am-2pm; 5pm-9.30pm daily, Telephone 8411 6666 www.glz.com.cn
Rajesh Kanoi (Jack) is a published writer, now living and working in China. Many of his short-stories, poems and articles have been published, including a book of short-stories, 'From China With Love' (Lipstick Publishing). http://www.writingup.com/blog/oneinabillion http://o3.indiatimes.com/kjack/archive/2006/02/17/481945.aspx