There’s a first time for everything… right?? Last night’s dessert at Home Group was certainly a FIRST for this lady! But being a good sport & seeing as how this food was given as a gift for us, the leaders, & everyone else to enjoy… by a first time visitor… from his very experienced family business’ shop where they sell this delicacy at a very fine price… I tried it! And that is what we Third Culture Kids (& parents) call – “Eating Ministry” – ministering to others by eating their food with a smile, no matter how strange, gross or spicy it may be! So here’s my review:
Chinese Bird’s Nest Soup
A ‘treat’ made from the nest of a swallow. Such a nest is created by the swallow’s careful design over months, by spitting their protein rich saliva & mixing it with their soft, fluffy feathers to create a perfect nest. People climb into the high & slippery caves of the wild swallows to ‘harvest’ the (abandoned?) nests. I was told that it is not uncommon to hear stories of the people who have died in retrieving these nests because of the dangerous locations & precarious climbing conditions. Our new friend said his family has been selling this as a family business for generations in Malaysia, they harvest their own nests from wild birds’ caves, prepare & cook the nest & sell it in shops all over. He & his wife have just moved to Hong Kong to open their first shop here. Wow, what a family business to have!
The nest is carefully dissolved in water & feathers meticulously removed. What remains is the gelatinous swallow spit. Again, apparently very healthy for you as it is full of protein as well as wonderful enzymes that help your body to absorb a higher percentage of the nutrients in other foods you eat. (Our guest explained this may be one reason the Chinese have such ageless complexions!) I didn’t get the whole breakdown or recipe from our guest, but he did say that they ‘cook’ the nest & prepare a sweet, clear broth with flower seeds (that are very good for your eyes) & red dates. The bird’s nest ends up as a stringy & slightly crunchy clear solid, looking somewhat like clear sprouts made of jello. (See Pic Below) You can eat it alone, or in the broth as a soup. The others told us that one cup sized bowl (with only 1-2 tablespoons of the ‘nest’) would sell for at least $150HK. That’s a starting price of about $20US per serving!!
So how did this special dessert taste?? Let’s ask Tryston:
I ate it before I knew what it was. (Nice one Dad!) I liked it… but then I almost threw up when I found out what it was.
It is sweet and gelatinous. (a texture like Shark Fin Soup) I don’t think I’d pay my own money for it, but apparently it is good for you. The broth stuff was sweet and very watery. No one else seemed to think it was unusual to eat bird spit. They thought it was weird that I found it somewhat gross. In all, it tasted good but I won’t eat it again. Which proves that ignorance is bliss.
Interesting tid bit:
In the children’s book Pippi Longstocking, one of the protagonist’s “tall tales” about the countries she has visited is that in China, people eat birds’ nests. Even though it is true, this is one of the few stories she claims is made-up. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird%27s_nest_soup)
So friends… what say you?? Would YOU eat it with a smile??
Are you ready to try your hand at “Eating Ministry”??
Answer below – we want to hear YOUR thoughts!!