Every country has its traditional cuisines that are delicacies for locals but thrill-seeking for foreigners such as Japanese Nattō, Mexican tree-ant larvae, Peruvian roasted guinea pigs, Italian casu marzu......
These foods failed to gain popularity outside of their original places. However, they attracted enough attention to end up in the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden. Spicy rabbit heads from Chengdu are among the exhibits. (What? Chengdu locals cannot agree)!
Spicy Rabbit Heads in the Museum
Let's take a glance at some exhibits in the museum (Be ready!)
Italian casu marzu
Peruvian fried guinea pigs
Guam roasted rousettus
Mongolian sheep eyeball juice
Visitors are all embarrassed when visiting the museum
Apart from the spicy rabbit head, other Chinese food such as mouse liquor, buffalo testicles, "stinky tofu", and the legendary "devil's egg" - preserved egg were staged at the museum.
At the entrance of the museum, everyone gets a vomit bag instead of a ticket. A blackboard by the side records the cumulative number of vomiting incidents that have occurred since the museum opened in 2018. After becoming a sensation, the museum launched a world tour and opened pop-up shops in France and USA, with one in Germany coming soon.
Museum co-founder DR. SAMUEL WEST notes, though titled "disgusting", the museum does not mean to disgust visitors but to prompt people to think about cultural differences.
（Image source: Disgusting Food Museum）
"What we find disgusting and delicious is very cultural," says museum director Andreas Ahrens. "It all depends on what we grew up with and what we are conditioned to like."
You may have a crush on it after having a try
Spicy rabbit heads are a popular delicacy and late night treat in Chengdu, where meals play an important cultural and social role and slowing down. Taking your time to enjoy them and disconnect from your day is a crucial aspect.
The famous travel and cuisine television show Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern of the Discovery Channel once filmed a special episode in Chengdu. The host took up the challenge on his culinary trip in the city to eat a spicy rabbit head in front of the camera. He was yelling about how spicy that was while finding it hard to stop eating. Rabbit heads became a worldwide sensation as soon as the video was broadcast.
Don't be surprised if you see a beautiful girl with nice makeup and hair gnawing on a rabbit's head on a Chengdu street. If you take a bite, you may also fall in love with that texture and flavor.
Despite the appalling look, rabbit heads taste great. The heads are skinned, with eyes, teeth and brain intact. In Chengdu dialect, eating rabbit head (ken tu tou) also means "to kiss."
Eat rabbit heads as the locals do
The Chengdu-style rabbit heads are first stewed in a pot with a dozen of spices such as cinnamon, cumin and dried chili, and marinated for hours. Half a palm in size, they taste soft and glutinous, savory but not fishy. Typically, two flavors are available: spicy one that features tingly numbness and five-spice one that has savory gravy.
Some skills might come handy when eating rabbit heads—cleft, set apart and then start to gnaw on. Your mouth, tongue and lips all need to be involved. First, crack open the jaw and tear the whole head intotwo halves (this is easy when stewed enough). Second, eat cheeks, tongue and chin. The last step is eating the exposed brain. You just need to be more patient. It's also fun to suck the oil from your fingers clean after finishing. There's a good chance that a seasoned Chengdu citizen may have finished one before you figure out how to eat.
Recommended time-honored brands
Chengdu locals typically buy rabbit heads from street-side stalls. Today, I'll recommend three famous rabbit head restaurants in Chengdu:Deng's Rabbit Head (邓氏兔头)
Ranking "No.1 on the Chengdu Rabbit Head List" on Dianping app, China's equivalent of Yelp, this restaurant was opened over two decades ago. There's no seat in this takeaway-only outlet, which sells only rabbit heads and rabbit legs at a window, with spicy and five-spice flavors available. Rabbit head: RMB12/pcs and rabbit leg: RMB12/pcs (vacuum pack available)
Address: West of No.102, North Section 2, First Ring Road
Shuangliu Old Mama's Rabbit Head (双流老妈兔头): As a time-honored rabbit head brand in Chengdu, it offers rabbit heads that taste numbing and tingling, tender and savory. Although there're many restaurants titled "Shuangliu Old Mama's Rabbit Head" in Chengdu, the most authentic of all is situated in Dongsheng Town of Shuangliu District.
Address: No.85, Qingtai Road, Shuangliu District (opposite to the old bus station)
You's Rabbit Head (尤兔头): You's, billed as a gourmet hallmark of Dujiangyan, is always popular. It sells rabbit heads with spicy and five-spice flavors. Wrapped with crushed peanuts, the rabbit heads taste extremely savory.
Address: No.14-12, Dujiangyan Avenue, Dujiangyan City
Well, what about "kissing" the rabbit heads like the Chengdu people with a passion for life!