Home / China / Life

Documentary stirs national pride in its culinary arts

By Han Bingbin | China Daily | Updated: 2012-05-30 07:06

Thanks to A Bite of China, food has become the latest source of pride for the nation.

The show has triggered the belief that producing good food signals a flourishing culture and sophisticated lifestyles. Thus, prompting young people to proudly create their hometown or campus versions of online food logs.

Outside China, the food documentary creates a new form of patriotism. According to the US-based China Press, in New York, the documentary has already become "a regular topic of Chinese students over tables and phones".

Among hundreds of comments on Youtube, many took great pride in the variety and quality of food China has to offer. There were also complaints about the limited food choices in the regions where they currently live and study.

Many overseas students have also suggested online that the documentary be translated into different languages to publicize Chinese cuisines, of which the rest of the world do not have in depth knowledge. But, those calling for greater publicity of Chinese cuisines have different expectations and hope to convey a variety of messages.

Zhuang Ruoke, a New York University graduate who works in Boston, is intrigued by the subtle flavor of food that "leads to the situation that you don't even know what you are eating but you know it tastes good".

Grande Ecole graduate student Xiao Yunhan says she hopes to explore the similarities of the Chinese and French cooking process and the two countries' belief in eating seasonal.

Yao Yunchun, who works as a charity worker in Hampshire, England, recommends spreading the diversity of food ingredients and the variety of cutting skills.

But the trio agrees on one point about the documentary - it tells more than just food stories. By depicting the process of planting and preparing food in small towns and villages, it reminds them of an organic lifestyle.

For example, in a village in Zhejiang province, instead of eating canned bamboo shoots, people pick and eat wild ones only at the appropriate time of the year.

"A Bite of China reminds us of the existence of this natural way of living. I believe more people will be inspired to adopt and spread this natural lifestyle. For me, that's the most rewarding part of the documentary," Yao says.

"But those who adopt such lifestyles are mostly the middle aged and older people. For the young who live in cities, many do not know much about natural living," she adds.

Zhao Xingyun, who went to college in Shanghai and now studies at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, says she experienced an organic lifestyle during her childhood, when grains and vegetables were all home-grown and fish were harvested in a sustainable way.

But villagers in her hometown lament the shrinking harvest because of the building of shipyards and power plants.

Zhao is also worried about what she calls a "tasteless future" as more people give up farm work. She says in her village, many people are buying high-yield rice that tastes "simply worse than before".

There's also a growing concern over food safety.

Yao remembers eating at a small restaurant in China where the chef made a bowl of tasty fried noodles with some artificial looking seasonings and it frightened her because she "didn't know what was in the bowl".

In the West, similar health concerns have led to a growing organic food industry. In France, Xiao says, many suburban farms produce fresh vegetables and milk, and supply the organic foods to supermarkets in the city. She feels that the organic industry thrives in France because the French are wealthy enough to support it.

But for the poorer folk, eating "slow food" is still an unreachable dream. And, according to Zhuang, for people who are used to fast food, there is no turning back.


Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349