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Crazy cuisine in Beijing

Fancy a seahorse kebab, deep-fried scorpion, or maybe duck liver paste shaped as a table tennis bat?

by: Belinda Goldsmith: Reuters | 12 Aug 2008

Beijing, a city known for its culinary diversity, is offering everything from the bizarre to the beautiful when it comes to food during the Olympics with visitors urged to be adventurous and not put off by the unusual.

Some of the city's estimated 40,000 restaurants have added sporting twists to menus in keeping with the Chinese tradition of marking special occasions with unique culinary creations.

The Quanjude, a well-known Peking duck restaurant, has a range of dishes with an Olympic theme such as abalone shaped like a rowing boat with asparagus oars, baby corn baseball bats, and noodle baskets shaped like the Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium.

Sports bars around the city were hoping the influx of seven million visitors for the Games would benefit them, such as the W Restaurant and Bar in the popular Sanlitun area that is co-owned by former Swedish table tennis champion Jan-Ove Waldner.

Even though dog meat has officially been taken off the menu for the Olympic Games so as not to offend foreign visitors, tourists can still find a wide range of unusual delicacies.

Donkey Restaurants
The Guolizhuang restaurant specializes in animal penises while there are several donkey restaurants.

Stalls along Snack Street in the Wangfujing shopping district sell a range of delicacies on sticks such as seahorses for ¥30 and cicadas for ¥5.

The Chinese traditionally believe certain animals or their organs have medicinal properties.

"The seahorses are good for men's kidneys and their virility. Those (crustacea) are for the girls to improve their skin and looks, and these (lizards) are for both the boys and the girls, they boost your virility," said food vendor Sun Hainan.

However there appeared to be few takers on Snack Street.

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