Uncooked chicken feet...mmmmm
“Want to go out for Dim Sum?” my husband asked me. “They have chicken feet!”
I couldn’t believe how excited he was to try this rather bizarre sounding delicacy. He talked about it with the same breathless, bright eyed anticipation he normally reserves for the newest (and all too frequent, if you ask me) innovations in golf club technology. As for myself, I’m a gal as thrilled by novelty as the next, and chicken feet are about as novel a breakfast treat as you can get around Calgary.
Except of course, for the fabled monkey brains my hubby was also looking forward to trying. At least, until the two friends treating us to Dim Sum explained how they are traditionally served…The monkey is sedated, then its skull is sliced open and the brains exposed through a hole in the table while the poor animal dangles underneath. Thankfully, I didn’t find any suspicious holes in our table. Believe me, I checked! Just imagining my knee brushing against something soft and furry (and still warm!) under the table makes my skin crawl. Yep, I’m all for novelty, but playing footsie with my food (while I’m munching on it!) is where I draw the line.
Cart after cart of steaming, bamboo cradled, deliciousness was wheeled by our table. My husband waited eagerly for the chicken feet, tiding himself over with shrimp dumplings, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, beef balls (not the prairie oyster kind!), and all kinds of other goodies. Finally, the feet arrived.
All eyes were on the round bamboo steamer as my George lifted the lid. Inside was a glistening pile of what looked like thick spongy sprigs of red coral, smothered in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. Our friend Bill, at a huge advantage being Chinese, dug right in. Chicken feet were old news to him, and he happily started slucking off the skin and spitting out the bones.
“Oh,” I said, in an unbelievable moment of idiocy, “they have bones?”
After sticking my own foot in my mouth with that bit of genius, I figured sticking something else’s foot in there would be no great leap. I stared at the strange sticky toe thing in my fingers – too slippery for my chopsticks. All I can say is thank goodness they trimmed the nails! After a moment’s hesitation to get my courage up, I slipped the foot between my lips. “AAAGH!” The closest description I can give you is this: imagine a ‘Parisian’ kiss with your husband/wife gone terribly, terribly, wrong. I’m squirming just thinking about it. I tried biting down through the spongy, goose-bumped, tongue-like mass, but I had to spit it out as soon as my teeth touched bone. I will say, though, the rest of the table got quite a kick out of my full-body-spasm reaction.
What did George think of the chicken feet?
“They’re ok, I guess,” he told me after, “but really, they’re just skin and bones, so what’s the point?”
I smiled. Yes, any woman would be tickled pink to hear those words from her husband. But in terms of other toes to tickle, I think we’ll stick to our own, at least for a while : )