eating ministry – a chinese Delicacy

Tryston leading songs at our Home Group.

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!

Swift Swallow Nest

Swallow caves in Thailand.

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:

Stringy “Nest” pieces.

Chinese Bird’s Nest (without broth)

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. (

Chinese Bird’s Nest Soup – a delicacy all over Asia.

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!!


18 comments on “eating ministry – a chinese Delicacy

  1. I am so proud Of your eating ministry. It sounds pretty gross. What was the first guy thinking that made this up? Maybe he was really hungry and wanted the eggs but the nest was empty. I suppose I might try it, but I don’t know about the smile part. Love you guys!!!

    • Well now, I cannot fathom what the first guy WAS thinking, or if he was doing any such thing at all… Maybe he was starving, maybe he was nuts… but my guess is that he, like my wonderful husband, was just very Chinese! – of course, I say that as a compliment & with ALL due love & respect!!! – Love you guys too!

  2. I’d say… “you now cross over…JoyKwong-san” (Mr. Miyagi voice…) Seriously & in all honesty, I don’t believe I’d be able to do that. It must have been a God thing girl! His Grace is sufficient, even for bird spit soup! HAHA!

    • HAHA! Yes indeed! A God sized bit of courage! Mix that with 15yrs of walking through life w/ my own Chinese version of Mr. Miyagi… & you get a white girl who often thinks, & now apparently eats, like a Chinese… next up, speaking! 😛

  3. The consistency alone would be enough for me not to be able to eat it. Just the look and mouth feel feel would gross me out. I guess that ministry is not for me!

    • I must tell you Tammy, there certainly are some ministries that I don’t think I was made for either! I guess that’s why we must each find our own calling, because we will be given MUCH Grace & Anointing in the area we are intended to serve! Without which, I would not be on this side of the world, much less eating anything that was once in another animal’s mouth!!! =}

  4. YUCK! Your story brings memories flooding back of my childhood while in Israel. I remember going to the arab refugee camps. Dad (your Grandpa) would tell us that we had to eat and drink ANYTHING that was offered to us – NO MATTER WHAT! To not do that would insult these people. I absolutely hate tea! I remember sitting in a small house with a dirt floor drinking a glass of hot tea (with no sugar). I kept thinking I would throw up, but didn’t. The eating ministry is so important and something that should be learned all!

    • I remember you telling us about those moments in Israel… it reminds me that there is always something bigger at stake, surely my discomfort is not the biggest issue anymore! Love you! Thanks for sharing YOUR stories with us Mom!

  5. Being more of an “adventurous eater” in general, I would not have as much problem with it as some no doubt. I must say, if it was offered to me in our country, I would probably try a tiny taste of it with no qualms, but certainly would not eat a whole bowl of it here in the states! As for what is offered in another country, I believe as you Joy, we are to pray silently asking God to help us swallow and smile as unto Christ! We’ll see what kind of things I encounter when I finally am able to minister in Madagascar!

    • I’m sure you will find, as I have, it can be so rewarding to keep that brave face on… New friends & opportunities to share the Hope in my heart with them – there is no greater joy! — Excited to hear more about your journey, wouldn’t it be fun if I could go with you sometime?! So many needing Love in this word, glad you’re willing to serve them!!!

  6. I agree with T, ignorance is bliss… Do me a favor, don’t tell me what the food is until after I’ve eaten it. Otherwise I doubt I can stomach very many of the Chinese “delicacies”

    • OK, you got it! But to be honest, MOST of it is so very tasty… This one didn’t even ‘taste’ bad at all. Just goes to show how powerful our mind (& also our nose) can be in making food choices. LOL

  7. Well I know for a fact that my mind is all powerful in my food choices. I can’t even eat seafood without gagging despite many attempts

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