Frog and I visited Ta Cheng with Dongba Shaman Priest, He Xiu Dong. Ta Cheng is a remote mountain town with very high altitudes, so high that it gets hard to breathe as you walk through the winding dirt roads that lead to neighbours houses. We arrived in the night time and stumbled in the dark past crops towards He Xiu Dong's childhood home. We arrived to an empty house, his father wasn't home. The kitchen was a humble room with a fire pit as the centerpiece like that in most Naxi homes. We started a fire which dimly illuminated the room with its light furnishings and kitchen utensils.
We brought vegetables to cook for dinner and Frog suggested we eat some of the cured pork meat hanging from wooden beams on the ceiling. I looked up and cringed. I am usually pretty enthusiastic about trying weird foods but this meat looked like something out of a horror movie. It was covered in grey and black mold, hanging amongst oil blackened spider webs and god knows what else. There was a whole pigs head which had been spliced in half and covered in webs, fuzz, and mold. I really doubted I could stomach to swallow, ingest, or put that meat anywhere near my mouth. Frog assured me that she had it before and it was perfectly safe to eat, even a sort of delicacy. I let her take over the prepping and stood around dumbly with my camera. She burned the outer layer of skin in the fire to kill the bacteria that had grown all over the meat. After she thought all the germs had been sufficiently burned she scrubbed the next layer of fat in a tub a water. She then cut the meat into thin strips and we stir fried everything in a wok with vegetables. I guess if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger?