Well, I Never!
Just when you think you’ve heard everything, something comes along that tops it all. I have before me a news article, Dateline: Dongyang, China (Reuters) titled “Urine-soaked eggs a spring taste treat in China.” I’m thanking my lucky stars that my recent—and brief– little foray (oops! Almost wrote ‘wee foray’) into China did not include a visit to Dongyang, lest I might have accidently eaten a urine-soaked egg (AKA “virgin boy eggs”). I have learned to embrace cultural difference—I relish it—but I still have trouble extending that enthusiasm to some foods.
In Dongyang, for example, they collect the urine from the toilets of local primary schools. It must be boys’ urine—the younger the better. I don’t know why, but apparently it has been thus for centuries. Perhaps their preference for little boys’ pee–preferably boys under ten–is to avoid the taint of beer. I’m told that boys’ urine froths, whereas girls’ urine does not, but I can’t guarantee the veracity of that information. In fact, I wouldn’t trust it in a fit. Moreover, I fail to see how frothiness would provide any sort of advantage over non-frothiness in the matter of soaking eggs. Believe what you want.
These eggs are sold by street vendors. A bit like pretzels, or roasted chestnuts, I suppose. Condiments weren’t mentioned. I don’t know what would go with a pee-soaked egg. Onions, perhaps? to mask the urine-breath. Or hot mustard to numb the palate. The eggs are first soaked, then cooked, then cracked and soaked again, all in the urine. It takes nearly a whole day to prepare them. It is said that “the scent is unmistakable.” I bet it is. Give me cabbage any day.
So what is the appeal of these eggs? I hear you ask. Health benefits. Yup. It seems anything can be sold for health benefits. In this case, said benefits include decreasing body heat, improving blood circulation, and just generally reinvigorating the body. It is also claimed that if you eat these eggs you “…will not have any pain in the waist, legs, and joints…” Plus, you will have more energy when you work, and you won’t catch a cold. (Aren’t there pills for those things?…)
Their popularity is apparently also due to their “fresh and salty taste.” I simply don’t think our western palates are ready for this Chinese treat. Let’s face it: we haven’t exactly rushed to embrace some of their other specialties, such as chicken feet, pigs’ ears and various entrails, bird nest soup, and, indeed, whole young birds.
Oh. Regarding the pee-soaked “virgin boy eggs,” — I can provide instructions if you wish to try it at home. MM