Tuesday, March 9, 2010

That's some expensive bird spit

This is a display of the popular Asian delicacy known as Bird's Nest. It's a very sought after ingredient in Chinese cuisine and is most often dissolved into a soup. It's also very expensive.

Especially considering what it is.

It's spit.


And it's from a wild animal. And it's hard because it's been sitting around for a while.

It comes from a certain type of bird called a cave swift. These swifts build their nests inside caves using their very sticky strands of saliva. The strands solidify, slowly forming a nest. When they're finished, the nest looks like a shallow cup that adheres to the cave wall.

Here's a visual from Wikipedia:

So people enter these caves, harvest the nests, clean them and then sell them for vast sums of money. Then, the people who buy them use it in their cooking, like I said, usually for Bird's Nest soup. There's also several different varieties and one is called "red blood" nests. I can only imagine why it's called that. (*Dry heaving at the computer*)

Call me crazy, but I find it extremely odd not only to pay large sums of money for ANIMAL SALIVA, but then to turn around and EAT it.

I won't even kiss my dog on the mouth and I'm sure he has a cleaner mouth than a wild bird.

The Chinese will tell you that Bird's Nest is full of health benefits. These benefits include: aiding digestion, improving the voice, improving focus, alleviating asthma, and the kicker....

improving libido.

So basically what they're telling me is: they eat spit to get their freak on.

I don't know what gets your jollies off, but for me, making out with Mr. Bird Spit Breath isn't on the list.


Anonymous said...


You won't believe the kinds of things that are considered edible and even delicious, according to the Chinese palate.

I'm a chinese singaporean and I've been in Wisconsin for 2 years now. American food is really limited in variety (relatively, at least) and I can understand why after a lifetime of being used to american tastes, you find things like bird's nest disgusting.

But I miss my pig organ soup, fish head curry and chicken gizzard with chicken rice... do you find these disgusting too? :)

Brad Farless said...

Megan... it's like you've been spying on me. My wife and I were just in the supermarket over the weekend laughing about a Bird's Nest canned drink we saw on display.

Gross sounding stuff!

Megan said...


You are very right. American food is very tame in comparison (minus the hormones, pesticides and such). While I respect that people like different things, I just can't help but wrinkle my nose at it. I could never bring myself to eat things like pig organ...anything, fish heads, or bird's nest.

I have tried gizzards before. They're very popular in the South. While they're not my favorite, they're not bad tasting either. That may be because it was fried though. You know how we Americans like to fry everything! Ha!

Brad, how funny! I promise I'm not spying. I did see that display over in Tampines, which I think is closer to you so maybe I caught some of your brain waves.

My husband works with an American guy who loves Bird's Nest drink. I can't wait to break the news to him that he's swishing spit. :)

Brad Farless said...

We saw the Bird's Nest in Fairprice in Tampines over the weekend. ^_^ Kind of a strange coincidence. I do double check every time I see a woman with red hair though, curious if it might be you. It's a small place after all.

By the way, anon, Megan... I love breaded and fried chicken hearts! Okra too!

I spent quite a few years in Georgia and that's where my dad's side of the family is from, so I have to say that Southern style food is my favorite.

Corn bread, fried okra, fried chicken, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes & gravy and some *real* carrot cake for dessert!

Man... now I'm starving and all I have is noodles on hand. Ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

Actually the canned bird's nest drink sold in the market is unlikely to have real bird nest in it, considering how expensive it is.

It is most likely to be some gelatin-like substance and flavored to taste like the real thing.

Cooper Powell said...

my relatives on my mom's side of the family tried to make me eat it. i think i had the same problem at the time i heard it was bird spit. but for the sake of health, I am now consuming it regularly.

btw, i don't buy the super-expensive kind like old people do. the ready-to-drink kind at the stores are pretty affordable. (e.g. www.geocities.jp/hongkong_bird_nest/index_e.htm)