In one part of rural China, the fountain of youth flows nothing but deer blood. Specifically, the blood of a young sika deer, which is so prized that some people are traveling out into the middle of nowhere to get it. Hengxi (near Nanjing, in Eastern China) is home to a wooded deer farm owned by Mr. Yang. Yang with the help of some employees, hacksaws antlers off of young deer and extract bowls of hot blood, which is a supposed nectar of youthfulness.
An iFeng writer went to Yang’s farm, and witnessed a group of about eight people who lined up, keen to taste the blood which is claimed to increase one’s lifespan. (I recommend chinaSMACK for English readers.)
The report captures a Mr. Yang that is obviously more interested making a demonstration for the media presence than feeding his travelled customers. As a fiendishly impatient pilgrim snatched an antler and started sucking at it like the ice in the fingertip of a snow glove, Yang and his crew tranquilized another animal, showing off (for the reporter) the extraction method that produces larger drinkable quantities of sika blood.
I keep shaking my head, as these reports never answer what happened to the deer afterward. While the spectacle of the ‘bloody scene’ seems to override any of that concern, I feel I can reasonably deduct that the creatures must die after getting bundled together to have their neck arteries slit open in their sleep. The blood is then mixed with baiju, a high-proof liquor, so if you were ever upset by false rumors that Jaegermeister contained deer blood, you can always venture out to pay Mr. Yang a visit. (That is — while supplies last.)
Image courtesy chinaSMACK
It’s about now that you’re probably looking at that horrific picture and repeatedly mumbling “What the hell?” But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. During this Chinese New Year, I visited my friend Tom in Hong Kong, who was then cooking at a fancy burger spot. He explained that a major emphasis of traditional Chinese cuisine (which we were then eating) is based in traditional medicine. Health and illness, hot and cold, and yin ‘n’ yang are properties expressed by most components in Chinese food and preparation.
Dried fish and anchovies are rich in nutrients, and anciently believed to bring good luck (a staple during New Years). If it’s back pain that ails you, a pharmacist might hand you a box of shark cartilage. Rather than Viagra, you might get tiger penis soup. The science behind it is dubious at best, and in the case of the tiger wangs, it’s illegal. But that just goes to show that drinking deer blood, however foul you think it is, isn’t out of the question.
Lest more people start impatiently lining up for a sip, chinaSMACK’s report quotes a traditional medicine professor who explains the sauce isn’t for everyone. “Deer blood is hot in nature, so people who have 'too much heat caused by a too little Yin energy' or who have 'a real fire' should not drink it,” he said.
With my Chinese visa about to expire at the beginning of 2013, I find it doubtful that I’ll be trekking out to Mr. Yang’s sika deer farm anytime soon (don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind!). Of course, if it turned out that the blood truly does prolong your life as the pilgrims believe it does, I’d probably already be able to acquire a little bottle of V8 d’Venisen on the Internet, right?