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中国美食燕窝:昂贵的唾液

更新时间:2016-6-12 19:03:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Chinese Delicacy Straight From the Swiftlet’s Mouth
中国美食燕窝:昂贵的唾液

Scan the menu at some of China’s more expensive restaurants, and you’re likely to come across bird’s nest soup. According to traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, the soup provides a boost to the immune system, smooths the skin and acts as an aphrodisiac, which may be why the dish can sell for thousands of dollars.

在中国一些高级餐厅看看菜单,很有可能会看到燕窝汤。根据中国传统中医理论,这种汤可以提升免疫力,让皮肤光滑,还能壮阳,这可能就是为什么这种美食售价可达数千美元。

It requires a special kind of nest, made by a particular species of swiftlet, a tropical bird mostly found in Southeast Asia. And guess what this bird uses to build its nest? Not twigs, leaves or even feathers, but its own saliva.

燕窝来自一种特殊的燕子,叫作金丝燕,是一种热带鸟类,主要分布在东南亚地区。你猜这种鸟是用什么来筑巢的?不是树枝、树叶甚至羽毛,是它自己的唾液。

Yes, gobs of spit make this dish one of the most expensive in the world.

是的,一团团唾液让它成了世界上最昂贵的菜肴之一。

Many of the nests come from the Philippine island of Palawan, a tropical paradise often used as a filming location for action movies like “The Bourne Legacy.” The swiftlets build nests in the crevices of the island’s limestone cliffs, where harvesters have been collecting them for centuries to sell to Chinese traders; the best were once eaten by emperors. The nests are dry when harvested, but turn jellylike in the soup, which is usually sprinkled with rock sugar.

很多燕窝来自菲律宾的巴拉望岛,一个热带度假胜地,经常有动作电影到那里取景拍摄,比如《谍影重重》(The Bourne Legacy)。金丝燕在该岛的石灰石悬崖上筑巢,数百年来,一直有人在悬崖的缝隙中采集燕窝,卖给中国商人;品质最好的燕窝曾经是供皇帝享用的。燕窝在采集的时候是干的,但在汤中会成为胶状,通常会加入冰糖。

Scientists say the soup has some genuine nutritional value, beyond the calories burned from bragging about having slurped it down. The nests contain protein, carbohydrates and some fiber, though how exactly they smooth skin or bolster sexual vigor is unproved.

科学家说,除了吹嘘食用过燕窝汤时燃烧的卡路里之外,这种汤确实也有一定的营养价值。燕窝含有蛋白质、碳水化合物和一些纤维,但它们让皮肤光滑或者壮阳的机理未经证实。

But on a larger scale, the delicacy is probably doing more harm than good. As with so many traditional Chinese cravings, like shark fin soup, elephant ivory or alcohol made from tiger bones, the growing demand for bird’s nest soup has spelled trouble for the birds: They are no match for the skilled harvesters who find and remove their nests, sometimes with chicks still in them. Swiftlet populations have fallen steeply in some regions, prompting conservation officials to look for ways to protect the species.

但从更广泛的层面来看,这种美食可能弊大于利。就像中国很多其他的传统爱好,比如鱼翅、象牙或虎骨酒一样,对燕窝的需求日益增长也给这种鸟带来了麻烦:它们敌不过熟练的采集者,巢穴会被找到并取走,有时候里面仍然有雏鸟。在一些地区,金丝燕数量已经急剧减少,动物保护官员不得不想方设法来保护它们。

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