Dark cuisine

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"Lattes with onions are a hit in China", by Allan Rose Hill, Boing Boing (6/7/24)

Some might call that "over the top", I would call it "under the bottom". 

It's all part of a trend referred to as hēiàn liàolǐ 黑暗料理 ("dark cuisine").

Dark cuisine basically refers to food and drinks that put people's sensibilities to the test.

Basic Barista provides a recipe that boils down to the following: Finely chop a bunch of spring onions and drop them in a glass. Add ice, pour in milk, and then dump in that double shot of espresso.

[VHM:  many people pour in some soy sauce too.]

Or try vanilla ice cream topped with chili crisp:

ice cream with crunchy, oil hot sauce on top

The more disgusting and repulsive recipes are, the more people are lapping them up.  Dark cuisine is the culinary counterpart of dark humor.

If you do an image search on 黑暗料理, there are plenty of examples that look quite nauseating.

Is this the reflection of a society that has become bored, jaded, perverted to the point that even a good Chinese meal no longer attracts them?


Selected readings

[Thanks to Mark Metcalf]


  1. Nhan Hong said,

    June 12, 2024 @ 5:17 pm

    The ethnic Vietnamese in North Vietnam, in area bordering China, eat the almost turned to dung food in the intestine of the cow, which is called Pịa.

  2. Mike Anderson said,

    June 12, 2024 @ 7:16 pm

    In glorious People's Revolutionary Republic of North America, dark food is like dark humor. Not everyone gets it.

  3. Chas Belov said,

    June 12, 2024 @ 11:54 pm

    I consider salted caramel or chocolate with sea salt to be dark food.

  4. Chas Belov said,

    June 12, 2024 @ 11:56 pm

    Vanilla ice cream with chili crisps would probably not be to my taste, but I don't find the idea particularly strange. Chocolate was originally eaten with hot peppers, not sugar.

  5. Andreas Johansson said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 12:51 am

    If chocolate isn't dark food, there isn't enough cacao in it.

  6. Peter Taylor said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 4:34 am

    I'm not sure that many Mexicans would find the chilli ice-cream surprising: they're quite accustomed to putting chilli on fruit for dessert. It's something I've had in my culinary ideas file for years, and there are plenty of recipes online. There's even a Wikipedia page for a Filipino version called "sili ice-cream".

    It's also worth noting that I am far from alone in considering blue cheese to be "dark cuisine", and that has a very long pedigree.

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 5:47 am

    Nhan Hong — I was intrigued by your reference to "Pia", which I did not encounter when I was in Sa Pa, but on looking at the web it would appear to be nặm pịa bò (https://vietnamembassy-mongolia.org/northwest-region-cuisine-in-vietnam-is-it-actually-good-like-your-thoughts-part-2/#Young_manure_cow_soup_Nam_Pia_Bo) — is this correct ?

  8. anonymous said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 10:01 am

    My husband, who has no connections to any of the cultures or cuisines mentioned above, came up with the chili crisp / vanilla ice cream combination on his own. He enjoyed it regularly for a while, then traded up to spicier sauces, maxing out with Dave's Insanity sauce (180,000 scoville).

  9. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 10:49 am


    I understand that much of cuisine (including nearly the entirety of Scottish cooking) was developed by people coping with starvation, which attempts may include:

    (1) Having the family pet "take one for the team" (loyal, faithful, delightfully piquant in an arrabiata sauce);
    (2) Eating things in varied degrees of decomposition;
    (3) Broadening one's diet to include anything that may conceivably be chewed after a day's boiling.

    …but has anyone reading this ever actually _eaten_ Nam Pia Bo (i.e. moo-poo-stew)? If so, please describe the experience for us.

  10. Benjamin Ernest Orsatti said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 11:02 am

    My search engine tells me I coined a phrase. Here it is. Moo Poo Stew©. I'll sell it to anybody willing to join the NGO responsible for making sure it is never prepared anywhere in the world.

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    June 13, 2024 @ 11:40 am

    Well, I thought that it might be served here, Benjamin, but as far as I can tell it is not — perhaps you should suggest that they adopt it as the school's signature dish …

  12. Daniel Barkalow said,

    June 18, 2024 @ 4:35 pm

    I was on board until I realized that doesn't say "latkes with onions". This reminds me of the time I was making hot cider with cinnamon and cloves, but accidentally replaced the cinnamon with a different spice from the cabinet that was in similar packaging, which was actually oregano. My brain refused to consider the cider and oregano to be part of the same food item, and treated the combination as a mere coincidence.

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