Hei An Liao Li: The Chinese Phenomenon Of Dark Cuisine Defining Bizarre Foods
Updated : July 05, 2021 12:07 IST
The phenomenon has become popular in China, where people want to redefine what tastes delicious and what does not.
When a foodie meets a foodie, it’s rather okay to discuss bizarre foods from around the world. For instance, whether he or she has ever tried to eat octopuses or grasshoppers in China? While most people will quickly shrug with fear, followed by a face as though a grasshopper is crawling up their sleeve, but on the other hand, some would also express a desire of trying it someday. However, there are some foods that even the most adventurous foodies will not dare try.
There is something about a millennials’ capacity to do anything ranging from slightly odd to outright bizarre today. The topic in discussion is the bizarre food combinations ranging from honey on pizza, pizza ramen, etc. A lot of people don’t hate the idea. Chips on pizza? Alright. Bacon and sausage on oatmeal? Uh, alright. Not so bad. The combinations that multitudes of people find attractive today, especially during college but put off food connoisseurs and chefs. But the millennials did not invent the concept. The phenomenon has become popular in China, where people want to redefine what tastes delicious and what does not.
It is really frightening for some people, though. What, you may ask. The answer is dark cuisine. It is making people in the west think about food in a totally un-delicious way, or so they feel. So, there are things like combining unrelated food concepts such as insects and milk, and intentionally serving things that disgust people. People in the west are taking notice of the phenomenon, but in a way that they think is un-delicious.
Every bite is a great challenge, and even Asian locals are often seen giving dirty looks when a customer decides to order an unappealing dish such as stinky tofu. The natives dare not touch it. But do you want to know why some Chinese people eat everything? It’s apparently because some of these foods which fall under dark cuisine have been hailed for being really, really delicious — though others have wickedly failed because they cause discomfort. Would you believe that a coal-like cake made of black rice and corn got a lot of interesting responses in China? Most people loved it.
The Chinese word for dark cuisine is “hei an liao li”. They do not only apply the term to Chinese dishes which are difficult to visualise or swallow, but also those that have been around for many years in other parts of the world, such as the stargazy pie in the UK in which the fish eyes protrude through the crust, or the national dish ‘haggis’ from Scotland. So, if you thought that dark cuisine is a “trend”, think again. It’s a part of our eerie world food history.