Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oktoberfest -- Chinese style

Imagine this: lots of beer, a sea of black-haired people, a live band playing The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, and exotic foods including whole squid on a stick, roasted silk worm, Asian-spiced crawfish and fried scorpion. It's Chinese Oktoberfest!

They don't call it Oktoberfest here, but Wushan Square, in the center of Hangzhou, is the site of a 12-day Beer (pijiu) Festival. That's right folks, you can swill German beer (Hoffbrau, Paulaner and Franziskaner, to name a few) and work up the courage to sample some bizarre Chinese food.

There are over 6 million people in Hangzhou, and a good number of them showed up this Tuesday evening to join the festivities. The beer maids don't quite look like the St. Pauli Girl, but they try their best with the Bavarian Flag skirts. I give 'em an A for effort.

My colleagues bought some "special" food for me. They were reluctant to try it themselves, but after I witnessed someone else swallow it and survive, I gave it a try too. That's right folks - I ate silkworm and scorpion. The silkworm had a crispy shell and (thankfully) no strong flavor. The scorpion? We tore off the tail first, and they tasted like any other crispy deep fried food.

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