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China, humour

China 12: Dog meat in brown sauce

Copyright Elaine Canham, 2015

Copyright Elaine Canham, 2015

Continuing my 1985 diary of a trip to China

The bus next stopped at Huaquing Hot Springs, where we were offloaded for three hours. It was bitterly cold. We ate jaozis in a shack and had a look round the springs. People were queuing up for baths and the surroundings were beautiful – but cold. Every tea house was closed. We asked a woman outside a pagoda where we could rest or eat.

‘Mayo,’ she said. ‘Not have. All closed.’

We trailed off, and then Elspeth, who had looked through the windows of the pagoda, said: ‘There’s loads of settees in there. I bet they serve tea.’

‘Right,’ said Cheryl, so we went in and asked the woman for tea.

She looked at us in astonishment. ‘Oh, you want tea?’ She was amazed that we wanted tea, when we had said we had wanted two different things.

‘We want to get warm,’ said Elspeth.

The woman bowed to the capriciousness of foreigners. ‘You sit down,’ she said. ‘I bring tea.’

The inside of the pagoda was richly carved and decorated a la Fu Manchu, but the furniture was strictly 1930s with sofas covered in lacy anti-macassars all lining the room. It was very warm and very civilised and we gradually thawed out with the tea, while the women at the other end of the room washed their smalls and hung them over the backs of chairs to dry.

Back for dinner at the restaurant in the People’s Edifice. I decided I ought to order the dog meat in brown sauce. I mean, if it’s on the menu, and it’s what the Chinese do, then I think I ought to try it. The waitress came and Cheryl and Elspeth ordered noodles as per usual.

‘I’ll have the dog meat,’ I said.

The waitress scrawled on her pad. ‘Two noodle, one dog meat.’ And then she disappeared.

‘It’s probably going to taste disgusting,’ said Elspeth.

‘I know,’ I mumbled.

Eventually, after what seemed like several days, the waitress came back and looked at me very seriously. ‘We are sorry,’ she said carefully. ‘But tonight, dog meat off.’

Relieved? You betcha.

February 19.

Stayed in bed as long as possible – our train leaves at 10.30 tonight. Stuffed ourselves full of food at lunchtime and went off to meet the artists again.

There were four of them this time and we all crushed into this chilly, concrete cell. They gave us green tea and the Chinese equivalent of pretzels. None of them could speak English but they were all very good natured. The room was plastered with photos of impressionist paintings, Western book covers and their own efforts. They particularly wanted to draw us, they said, because they earned a few bob on the side by illustrating comic books and they needed a few European faces.

The flat was full of good smells, preparations for the Spring Festival, and we were asked to stay to eat, but we decided not to because Cheryl had used a restaurant’s chopsticks yesterday and was beginning to look very pale.

Back at the hotel the restaurant was full of visiting Hong Kong Chinese all celebrating the New Year. The waiters were pouring rice wine like they were just emptying the bottles. It was delicious – like apple froth and probably very powerful since it tasted so innocuous.

When we left the hotel, fireworks were going off left right and centre. The night was just a sheet of white shimmering light with head-splitting bangs. It was like the place was under rocket attack. I wanted to throw myself on the ground and put my hands over my head, but I didn’t; we all just ran like the clappers in case any of the fireworks hit us. The outside of the hotel was all lit up, the fountains were going, and people were setting off more fireworks on every street corner. Still, we got the train.


About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


25 thoughts on “China 12: Dog meat in brown sauce

  1. Hi Elaine. Got here via Tess at How the Cookie Crumbles. I probably blog for the same reasons you do. (Now I have two. 🙂 ). You’re brave, opting for the dog meat. Something tells me I would come back from China thinner. Nice post.

    Posted by Joanne | March 29, 2015, 12:50 pm
  2. Not sure I could eat dog meat, same with horse. My daughter used to go to open markets in South Korea where they kept dogs for people to take home and eat. Ugh. Glad they ran out! Fascinating travelogue – what are jaozis?

    Posted by noelleg44 | February 26, 2015, 7:42 pm
    • Jaozis (sorry, I put the explanation in an earlier post, China 7, I think) are little steamed dumplings filled with meat and veg. Baozis are the same, but bigger.
      Glad you like it.

      Posted by elainecanham | February 26, 2015, 10:58 pm
  3. Hindus are vegetarian. Buddhists not necessarily. Very interesting post. The tought of eating dog is like eating cat…I love my furbabies. I would not have been brave enough to order. I’d have just ordered noodles.

    Posted by kanzensakura | February 26, 2015, 7:03 pm
  4. As someone who grew up with dogs (and is now working with his 4th guide dog, Trigger) I don’t like the idea of eating canines. I find it hard to criticise those who do eat dog though as I am, myself a meat eater. If one isn’t a vegetarian I suppose all one can do is agitate for animals to be slaughtered humanely. Kevin

    Posted by drewdog2060drewdog2060 | February 26, 2015, 2:01 pm
    • Yes, I love dogs and I don’t like the idea of eating them either, but I just felt, in the circs, I ought to try it. I was really relieved when it was ‘off’.

      Posted by elainecanham | February 26, 2015, 2:32 pm
    • I can imagine, if I was hungry enough eating dog but I would have to be extremely famished to do so. Yes, I gleaned from your post that you where relieved that dog turned out not to be on the menu. I know that more and more people in China are now perceiving dogs as pets rather than as a source of food. Perhaps this flows in part from the growth of the middle-class together with an animal welfare movement. Kevin

      Posted by drewdog2060drewdog2060 | February 26, 2015, 3:06 pm
    • yes, I think you’re right. Also, maybe, there was just no cultural norm which made it a distasteful idea.

      Posted by elainecanham | February 26, 2015, 3:37 pm
  5. I’m enjoying your posts, Elaine and can’t help share your China journal. I mentioned dog last week and you have this interesting entry. Not funny, but still, you were brave to order it. Ewe. o_O

    I’ve re-blogged at https://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

    Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | February 26, 2015, 1:11 pm
  6. Reblogged this on How the Cookie Crumbles and commented:
    Here’s another China journal back from the late eighties. I mentioned dog only once. Here is a longer commentary.

    Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | February 26, 2015, 1:01 pm
  7. I get that dog meat is a part of what the chinese eat, and all that about “it’s the same as any of us eating cow”, sacred in india, but still… My doggies. DOGGIES. DOGGIES. their cute little faces, and trusting eyes (much like a cow, actually) and they’re trainable… And mans best friend.
    There are Peta people in China with pet dogs trying to take to the streets and convince people to stop eating dog. For as much as I’m against eating DOGGIES, I’m just as much against that sort of shite.
    Of course, they do it here too, it’s just that we ignore them… Walking around with some bedraggled chicken. Fry that sucker up, peta lady!

    Posted by naptimethoughts | February 25, 2015, 6:08 pm
    • i would really like to see someone try to take a chicken for a walk. There was that French bloke, wasn’t there, who had a pet lobster on a pink ribbon. Nuts. People are nuts.

      Posted by elainecanham | February 25, 2015, 6:21 pm
  8. Canine meat was indeed a part of the Asian diet. While I was stationed in Vietnam during the war we would find stray dogs wandering into our base camps and give them a home. But when the Vietnamese civilians would come in to do their jobs on base some of these dogs would likely spot their previous owners they escaped from and their hair on their backs would shoot straight up, growling at them while watching their every move. Bovines on the other hand would roam anywhere they wanted without fear of becoming part of someone’s dinner.

    Posted by lbwoodgate | February 25, 2015, 2:58 pm

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