Common Knowledge of Chinese Culture

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Birds' Nest Soup

It is even more of a luxury in China than turtle soup is in England. The nests from which the soup is prepared are not like an ordinary nest made up of sticks and twigs, hay and grass, but are of a gelatinous substance, secreted by the bird itself for the purpose, or as it has been wittily put , the bird makes them all of its own head. Darwin puts it in plain English " the Chinese make soup of dried saliva; in scientific language, they are described as being produced from the inspissated mucus from the salivary glands. These nests are constructed in caves on the sea shore, the swiftlet, which makes them, being a native of Malaya and Ceylon. Gomanti are the largest birds' nest caves in the world. The nests are gathered at considerable risk, and the best quality commands a high price. Chinese consider it strengthening and stimulating, and it forms the first dish at all grand dinners.

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