Postcard from Yunnan, Part 3

The fulfillment of obligation.
frog skin

I guess it’s de rigueur to have at least one “Weird Shit I Ate in Asia” post. I mean, I could tell you all about the wonderfully sweet peas I just had at lunch, stirfried simply with a few bright red chilis, or I could talk about the milky-white soup, its color and richness the result of cooking out and emulsifying the fats and proteins from fresh lake fish, but my understanding of how culinary dispatches from abroad are supposed to work dictates that I tell you about frog skin.

There’s not a whole lot food-wise I get hung up on, but I have to confess that I got a little creeped out by the idea of eating frog skin. But there it was, cold, on the table. Somewhere, Miss Piggy was crying hot, angry tears.

It looked interesting enough, wavy flaps of green-black skin shotgunned with fiery red chili and powerful cilantro. I chewed on it, tart and spicy and rubbery and pungently herbal and… kind of funky and… sort of bitter and… I spat it out. Really. I couldn’t hack it. Not just because it was what it was, but because it tasted like what I thought that would taste like, leathery and bitter from toad-ish toxins.

Later, our guide popped in the room to ask us if we liked it, a specialty of the region. Some of us lied and said yes, but I suppose the truth was obvious when he looked at the full plate. He explained that even though it’s called frog skin and looks exactly like that, it’s actually a sort of mushroom, a forest fungus. Ah, we said. Oh, much better. I tried another bite. I spit that out, too.

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