The Foodist Monk: Wuyishan, Fujian Province, China

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At the end of a business trip, friends pointed me to Wuyishan, saying it was like the emerald of China. Since it was only an hour flight away from where I was staying at Xiamen, it wasn’t that far of a jaunt. When I arrived all the cabs had been scooped. I decided that a bus from the airport in Wuyishan was going to get me to the hotel a lot faster than waiting for the already dispersed cabs to return from their drop-offs. And traveling by public transit was a lot more adventurous than being driven anyway. For 1 yuan, I was able to get part-way to my destination. But when I was dropped at the unmarked bustop, I realized that finding my hotel wouldn’t be that easy.

Another 4 yuan later, I was dropped directly at my hotel by a man with a motorbike. There I found my host, Ah Feng. She allowed me to go wash away my journey before demanding to know what dinner I was up to trying. Local fare has always been my staple. And it would be no different tonight.

With relish and delight, Ah Feng took me to her favourite establishment, a remote restaurant towards the mountains where they specialized in the dish of Wuyishan City – Wu Pu Se – Five Steps Snake.

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I questioned the name of the dish… strange name. She explained that should I wander into the shaded cliff areas in the parkland, I had to be careful of falling snakes. These pit vipers were so prevalent here. And should I have the misfortune of being bit by one of these vipers, within five steps I would be dead. Lucky for me, the snake was going to be dinner tonight and not vice versa.

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After the snake was presented and weighed, it was taken into the back kitchen where it was prepared for our dinner. Continue reading