â€¢ I have three words for you: Chicken feet. Why? â€“ Kate, Shanghai
Well, now thatâ€™s an interesting question. Did you know the United States is the worldâ€™s largest chicken foot supplier? Until the bird flu scare interrupted exports and imports, the US shipped a steady supply of 8 billion chicken feet to China each year. JESUS! That’s a lot of chicken feet. When China imposed a temporary ban in February 2004, all those feet were tossed into a grinder and fed to the dogs. At least, thatâ€™s what sources say.
Some people say that eating chicken feet in powdered form helps heal spinal cord injuries and/or strengthen the tendons since chicken feet have the curious ability to regenerate. (On another note, the Japanese hope their experiments with manipulating the size and location of chicken toes will help scientists develop a way to make human fingers regenerate.)
The proper term, by the way, is â€œchicken hocks,â€ which are enjoyed in many parts of the world. Theyâ€™re steamed, boiled, curried and even plunked into soup. Here in Southeast Asia, theyâ€™re drinkinâ€™ food! My only experience with chicken feet was at a karaoke restaurant across the river from Phnom Penh. We went there with our good Cambodian photographer friend, Sinith, who proceeded to get us rip-roarinâ€™ drunk on cheap beer and boiled chicken feet. They were rubbery on the outside and crunchy on the inside. They made me feel nauseous. And nauseated, all at the same time. But Iâ€™ll forgive Sinith. He serenaded us with â€œUnchained Melody,â€ in such a kooky sweet voice that it made me forget all about the rubbery chicken feet. (Sinith also can perfectly imitate a roosterâ€™s crow.)