In the earlier days of the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic, nearly everything in Changzhou but supermarkets were closed. You couldn’t go out to eat, and you couldn’t sit in a bar and chat with your friends over a beer. Life was rather boring, and that is not a complaint, either. Watching the news coming out of Hubei was highly depressing, and I always said, “If boredom is your biggest complaint, than you have nothing to complain about.” There is only so much TV you can binge watch. Looking at social media was tantamount to witnessing the collective mental breakdowns of multiple people.I just couldn’t stay at home all day. Besides, I am a travel writer, and traveling in a time of an epidemic is a bad idea. I spent a lot of time in local supermarkets, though. By the way, “Fuked Mart” in the above picture may look like Chinglish, but it’s actually just misspelled Pinyin for the name 福客多 fu ke duo. There, I looked at nearly every label and product as if I were in a lending library.
I never go hunting for Chinglish, but as an native speaking English teacher in China, it always seems to find me. Yet, in what felt like endless days milling around supermarkets, I spent a lot of time in the alcohol aisles. I discovered that smaller, less corporate grocery stores sometimes carry lesser known baijiu and rice wines that their larger competitors lacked. For example, at Fuked, they have a very good variety of ginseng liquor, which is something I actually like quite a bit. And, then, to my surprise, I found this.
Somebody with absolutely no knowledge of Chinese wouldn’t be disturbed by this. The characters 三鞭酒 sanbianjiu translates as “Three Penis Liquor” or “Three Penis Wine.” It is a drink that that is infused with the reproductive units of three different male animals: usually a dog, a seal, and a deer. As a foreigner, it’s easy to get offended or horrified by some Chinese food and drink traditions. But, hey — I chose to live and work in this country, so it’s not my place to judge. Teaching English here is a privilege and not a right. There is a history here, though, with what seems like an obscene beverage to an American mind. Traditional Chinese Medicine has treated phallic organs as natural remedies for male vitality and virility. Essentially, drinking this stuff is supposed to raise a man’s libido, so it’s intended to be the TCM version of Viagra.
But, this also reminds me of something I often tell my university students. They often like to ask whether or not I like Chinese food. My response is always, “I’m willing to try 90% of it. However, there are some places I just can’t go — animal heads or faces, for example. Worms.” To that end, a drink with three different types of dick in it is one of those places I just can’t go. Ever. And to anybody who is curious: no, I did not find three penis wine at Fuked Mart.