As spring sets in, a strange but familiar smell permeates the air in Dongyang City of China’s Zhejiang Province, as locals begin to eat the seasonal “virgin egg.” It’s the smell of urine, because “virgin eggs” are actually eggs boiled in the urine of virgin boys. The local word is Tongzi Dan which translates to “boy egg”. This bizarre street eat, though appalling to an outsider, has been a standard street fare in Dongyang for hundreds of years.
The process for making Tongzi Dan boiling the eggs in urine. After being brought to a boil in the steaming urine, the eggs are removed, their shells are cracked and they are placed back into the boiling urine to soak up flavor.
Residents of Dongyang love it. “It’s so delicious that I can eat 10 eggs a day,” said a woman who moved to Dongyang several years ago However, not all Dongyang people are interested in them. One local resident, said he had never tasted “virgin eggs.” “I can’t stand the smell. It’s awful.”
The urine is collected from local elementary schools. Plastic buckets are placed outside their classrooms and young boys are instructed to pee into them. The buckets are then collected through the day and used to make the delicacy. For the most part, the practice is accepted throughout primary schools in Dongyang and teachers even remind the boys not to use the buckets if they are sick.
Locals believe that the eggs have medicinal value. Urine contains a kind of crystal that can “diminish the internal heat of the human body” and stop bleeding. But Huang Jian, the chief urology physician of Jinhua Central Hospital, contested that there is nothing good for people’s health to be found in the urine. “After all, it is waste from the body,” he said.