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.
By eating these eggs, we will not have any pain in our waists, legs and joints. Also, you will have more energy when you work, customer Li Yangzhen, 59, who bought 20 eggs from Ge, told the publication.
Chinese medical experts, however, view the product with some wariness, with some warning about sanitary issues surrounding the use of urine to cook food in the open air of a vendor's stall.
Not all Dongyang residents, meanwhile, approve of the tradition.
I don't believe in all this, said Wang Junxing, 38, who declined some of Ge's eggs. So I do not eat them.
Nonetheless, the centuries-old tradition continues to provide the eggs to local citizens en masse in the spring, when they are a popular snack for most, and the ritual using for making virgin boy eggs, a day-long process, continues to generate respect or at least curiosity among locals and tourists.
Below, learn how the urine for virgin boy eggs is collected, how the unusual delicacy is made and how much these strange eggs sell for, as well as checking out pictures of the eggs and their vendors in Dongyang.
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
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
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
Dioxin content of three to six times permitted levels were discovered by routine tests on a farm in the central German state of North Rhine Westphalia, the state agriculture ministry said. The farm has been sealed off and is not permitted to sell more eggs, the state ministry said. Reuters
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, 51, passes a bag of hard-boiled eggs cooked in boys' urine to a customer holding her baby on a street 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