Today's front page news story about a street food seller keeping his beef innards in a "storeroom" right next to the urine trough of a public toilet (yes, the local papers here do run such stories on the front page!) is definitely disgusting but hardly surprising.
I have always maintained that, in our great culture, the facade and what lies behind can be totally different things. I have written about how a lot of taxis reek of stale cigarette stench because the drivers smoke therein when there are no passengers, even though smoking in public vehicles is illegal here. In a Chinese society, the philosophy is that it is okay to do anything that suits your own interest but not that of others as long as you don't get caught. We have been conditioned in such a way that even though we are aware of being short-changed, we do not seem to mind. For example, the hygenic conditions of kitchens of restaurants (never mind how "high class" they are) never give customers complete peace of mind, but instead of pushing for an improvement to emulate places like Singapore or Japan, we just put up with it and kid ourselves with the adage that "what is not seen is clean".
Let's face it, does anyone who dares to put those beef innards in his gob really believe that they are clean? Has anyone living in Hong Kong not seen those entrails being dragged on the floor on their way to some wet markets or, yes, kitchens of restaurants?
And the gourmets are ready to brave the hazard, all because the food, they say, is delicious.