Americans snack on beef jerky. Chinese people snack on chicken feet. After months of living in China and seeing—but never touching—pre-packaged chicken feet on the shelves of every supermarket here, the time has come to sample this oddly popular Chinese snack. Weak stomaches beware.
The Chinese call it jī zhuǎ (鸡爪), and while this snack might be strange for foreigners, it’s considered a totally normal treat in China.
You can find pre-cooked chicken feet sold in most grocery stores and supermarkets in China, often seasoned with rice vinegar, chili and other spices. Due to its immense popularity here, the average price per kilogram of chicken feet is actually more than the average price per kilogram of chicken breast.
Honestly, it was a little intimidating coming face-to-face with the talon of a once-living chicken. A small part of me actually felt guilty eating it. But for the sake of adventure and experiencing traditional foreign snack-food, it had to be done.
After struggling to enjoy two flavors of chicken feet, my friend and I ate pre-packaged butterfly larvae for dessert. Also a very common snack in China, butterfly larvae is a more bearable in my opinion. Its nutty flavor tastes very similar to sunflower seeds.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the photo I posted of an old Chinese man sitting across from me on a train, chewing on a chicken foot and drinking rice liquor at 8 o’clock in the morning.
It’s always exciting and eye-opening to eat strange yet common foreign foods. While native Chinese may consider the foot of a chicken appetizing, I won’t be eating it again. Once is enough for this monkey.