Every culture has its own unique cuisine, and the rituals to make local delicacies that are thousands of years old are still passed on through families and via street vendors today. Dongyang, in the Zhejiang province of China, however, may have one of the most unique foods that has carried over to modern times: virgin boy eggs, hard-boiled eggs soaked and boiled in the urine of boys under the age of ten.
In this small coastal town, the eggs are considered a delicacy, and urine for making them at home and for street vendors to use is collected through buckets left outside the boys’ bathrooms in Dongyang primary schools. Vendors who sell the eggs, like 51-year-old Ge Yaohua, claim the “fragrant” eggs have miraculous healing properties, promoting better circulation, increasing stamina and preventing heat stroke.”
“They are good for your health,” Ge told Reuters. “Our family has them for every meal. In Dongyang, every family likes eating them.”
Many Dongyang residents, both young and old, believe these stories, and are happy to carry on a tradition passed down for many generations.
In order to prepare virgin boy eggs, eggs must be soaked in a pot of urine and then boiled in the same liquid. (Reuters/Aly Song)
A boy urinates into a container outside a toilet at a primary school to help cultivate a popular springtime snack in Dongyang. (Reuters/Aly Song)
A man walks into a primary school bathroom where containers of urine have been collected from outside the toilets. They will be used during the spring season to make virgin boy eggs. (Reuters/Aly Song)
After they soak and boil, the urine-infused eggs’ shells begin to crack. They then simmer in the boiling urine for the rest of the day. (Reuters/Aly Song)
A vendor pours a bucket of urine on top of the pot of hard-boiled eggs. Street vendors must continue to pour fresh urine over the eggs throughout the day to keep them from overheating. (Reuters/Aly Song)
Vendor Ge Yaohua shows the inside of a hard-boiled egg cooked in boys’ urine at his stall in Dongyang in the Zhejiang province of China. (Reuters/Aly Song)
Vendor Ge Yaohua, 51, passes a bag of hard-boiled eggs cooked in boys’ urine to a customer holding her baby on a street in Dongyang.
Two buckets of urine collected from a primary school are seen inside a stall selling virgin boy eggs in Dongyang, China. (Reuters/Aly Song)
A girl looks at a pot of regular hard-boiled eggs next to a pot of virgin boys eggs. One street vendor said he sells the urine-soaked eggs for about 24 cents, double what regular eggs cost. (Reuters/Aly Song)
Vendor Ge Yaohua eats one of the hard-boiled eggs cooked in boys’ urine at his stall in Dongyang, Zhejiang province (Reuters/Aly Song).
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