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Eating dog is an idea that most Westerners find rather distasteful, but to some Chinese it’s no different from eating sheep or pigs. Outside the big cities hardly anyone keeps dogs as pets and most people can’t afford to be overly sentimental which may be why they haven’t developed the ‘can’t eat that’ status that they have in the West.
When it comes to dog meat in China, most travellers’ main concern is simply to avoid it. Rest assured, dog meat is a very rare occurrence on menus in Beijing, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll come across a restaurant that serves it. Furthermore, most restaurateurs are well aware that eating dog meat is something of a minority interest, especially amongst Westerners, and they won’t serve it to you unless they’re quite sure that you want it.
If you want to be quite sure, the crucial character to watch out for is 狗 (gǒu – dog) of 狗肉 (gǒuròu – dog meat). 我不吃狗肉 (Wǒ bù chī gǒuròu) means ‘I don’t eat dog meat’. Make sure you stress the 不/bù.
Dog’s penis, like many other kinds of animal penis, is used in Chinese medicine. It is believed to boost a person’s Yang, and therefore might be useful to men suffering from impotence.
As a meat, dog is fairly versatile and can be served up in a variety of ways – anything from a dog and aubergine stir fry to dog-soup noodles. The meat is fairly dark and usually quite tender.
Dog is most commonly eaten in South China an in the far North East. Cantonese people (from South East China) especially have a reputation for eating all sorts of bizarre and exotic animals that leave other people cold, for example snake and cat. Northern Chinese like to say that Cantonese people will ‘eat anything with four legs apart from table and chairs’.
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