The local specialty of snail noodle soup has spaghetti-shaped rice noodles, a duck foot, snails in shells, and your choice of add-ons. You’re supposed to eat it spicy and sip the fresh, sweet glass-bottled soy milk between bites. The snails, you can suck from their shells or toothpick out, but separate the foot from the intestines– the foot is the part you eat. The duck foot, you chew. It’s fatty, with lots of skin. The cartilaginous little foot joints melt apart in your mouth, so you spit out the tiny bones.

We’re eating in a noodle shop in a mall in Liuzhou. We’re with Jia’s cousins, who are just a bit older…