Categorized | Bizarre Foods, Immigration

Quail prosciutto for cooking in Chinatown

By CAROLINE SHIN

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A whole cured quail hangs from a ledge at the Bayard Street Meat Market.

The Bayard Street Meat Market has been selling whole dry-cured quail, a prosciutto of sorts, for as long as Michael Huang can remember.

Now the manager of his parents’ store, Huang, 21, came to the U.S. from China when he was 9 years old. He sells about 50 of these quails weekly for $7 apiece to Chinese immigrants, his main consumer market. Why is the quail cured? “So it doesn’t go bad quickly and you don’t waste it.” He said his supplier does the dry curing.

Huang said Chinese people value the quail for “health” and “medical” reasons. Chinese cooks at the restaurant or at home serve the quail in soup, but they don’t actually eat the bird because its protein has already simmered into the broth. They also fry or steam it in soy sauce.

But, Huang says, “I don’t eat quail. I’m almost ABC.” As an almost “American-born-Chinese” person, he does not know how to cook it nor does he eat it nowadays.

While Arthur Schwartz, cookbook writer and former food critic of the Daily News, says that food is one of the mainstays of an immigrant culture, one can also wonder which dishes get lost between generations.

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This post was written by:

Caroline Shin - who has written 7 posts on NY Food Chain.

Caroline Shin is a digital media student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She loves food, travel and foreign languages. After two years, she recently came back to her hometown of New York City from Buenos Aires where she wrote for ArgentinasTravel.com and LivinginArgentina.com.

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