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Badly Ordering Food by Menu Photos During China Travel

What I ended up ordering from the photo. Oh.

What I ended up ordering from the photo. Hmm…

You’re hungry, you’re in Beijing, China, and you’ve stumbled into a restaurant where the menu is in pretty Mandarin characters with big pictures.

“Surely,” you tell yourself as you walk in the door, “pictures are all I need to order something yummy.”

Then you find yourself staring at the options on the wall displayed in the lower left photo in this article. Hmm… There appear to be six different choices, each with rice (that much is clear), greens, something round and brown, and then a different mystery meat in each square.

It takes some debating with your friends, but you finally conclude that the brown orb on each plate is an egg that has been steeped in some sort of sauce. Good enough! But what about the meats? Look at this photo with me and play along with this real-life guessing game.

Can you guess the mystery meat in each box?

Can you guess the mystery meat in each box?

Box 1: Clearly a chicken leg. Great.

Box 2: Duck leg? Looks crunchy and delicious.

Box 3: Um… steak?

Box 4: What the heck?! Pig hoof? Muppet hand??

Box 5: Um, more steak?

Box 6: Entrails of some sort.

I chose Box 3, thinking it was steak. It arrived and was not steak. It was… um… we think kidney? Or some other sort of organ. See the first photo of this article and weigh in. It looked like an infinity sign and leered at me, and I couldn’t get up the nerve to eat it, no matter how much I hate wasting food. The rest of the plate was very good, though!

The moral of the story: you can tell a lot less about food from photos than you think! And there exists a part of some animal that is shaped like an infinity sign.

For an article on blindly ordering food in Thailand, click here!

Waitresses giggling and photographing us in Yunyang.
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