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Chicken Feet: My Favorite China Food to See But Not Eat

Duck feet or chicken feet in China
Mmm… yummy chicken feet, to go!

My favorite food of China travel to look at, giggle at, and photograph… but never, ever actually EAT, is the popular snack of chicken feet.

And duck feet.

Really, any edible poultry tootsies at all send me into gales of laughter. I’m never sure which foot belongs to which bird, but they all remind me of witches and tickles.

During our visit to Gareth’s Peace Corps site in Yunyang, Central China, we took a trip to the local supermarket.

Gareth and her roommate were there for practical matters: to buy groceries.

But I was there for two selfish purposes:

1) To purchase and eat as many poofy white buns filled with delicious meat and veggies as possible, and…

2) To take photos of chicken feet and giggle.

Missions accomplished!

Raw chicken feet on ice, next to um... lung? Intestine?
Raw chicken feet on ice, next to um… lung? Intestine?

I bought about eight downy white buns (the correct Mandarin term, Gareth tells me, is bao-zi), and scampered hither and thither photographing bird feet.

You will see from these photos that chicken feet come in all sorts of exciting incarnations in China.

You can buy them raw, to cook yourself.

If you have a busier lifestyle and time is short, you can buy the feet cooked and seasoned… and sitting out in the tepid air. (Oh FDA, where are you when we need you?).

Alternately, if you are a highly active chap or lass on the go, you can buy the feet packaged in shrink wrap, mysteriously not needing refrigeration, and doused in either fresh blood or hot peppers (or both). Wouldn’t those be cool to take to your next intramural soccer game to pass around with the Pringles?

Live chickens, next to the non-live feet!
Live chickens, next to the non-live feet!

And then here is the best part, for those of us who like freshness to the maximum: in many supermarkets in China, no matter how glossy and modern they are, there is a wing labeled “FOWL POULTRY” in which there exist, bopping around… a whole bunch of live chickens!

How delightful to know that the raw chicken feet turning blue on ice were likely dancing around just hours before in a coop a few feet (hahah!) from the display table.

Should I have gotten a bunch of packets of the Feet To Go to bring home as gifts for friends? Would American Customs officers at the airport even permit them into the country?!

“Anything to declare, miss?”

“Why, yes, sir. These.”



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Sindy yau

Friday 9th of January 2015

Wow!! You don't like chicken feet?! It's really good. You should try it sometime. It's really good and tasteful.


Friday 9th of January 2015

You're right! Next time I will!


Wednesday 30th of January 2013

I watched one of my mom's co-workers eat chicken feet once... I don't think I ate much that day proceeding that event.


Sunday 23rd of September 2012

Yes ,I tried these chicken feets in china,two months a go when I visit to south china,it's good not too bad,and that's the famous Chinese snack,those comes in ready made as well as you can take from restaurants and its a famous acompaniment with beer.


Sunday 23rd of September 2012


Noelia M.

Monday 11th of June 2012

I LOVE CHICKEN! Although chicken legs is not a favorite.

Oriana Hairston

Monday 27th of February 2012

That really creeps me out. XP GROSS!

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