Tourism and Reality in Southeast Asia
by Vago Damitio
While watching the food channel the other day, I came across a disturbing thing. Initially, what caught my attention was a bald man in a southern China marketplace looking at the various foods being offered on a street vendor’s barbecue cart. I wasn’t disturbed by this, it was what made me pause from my neurotic channel surfing.
Several years ago, I had been in southern China and had eaten from many similar carts. The hardest part of eating from the carts was deciphering what the individual items were. My traveling companion at the time was shocked to realize that these were all meats from familiar animals, they just weren’t the parts that we were used to seeing cooked.
The man on television was pointing out the same thing. On the cart were chicken heads and feet, dog tails, cow eyes, and other Chinese delicacies. I wasn’t shocked by the foods, I was shocked by the manner in which the fat, bald, white, narrator was presenting cultures that I had both enjoyed and admired. The show was called something like “The Disgusting Foods of Southeast Asia” and while I’m sure that there was pork somewhere on the cart, the most obvious pig was the host of the show.