Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Savor a delicious bite of China

By Xiao Lixin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-16 08:16

After two years' wait, the second season of A Bite of China was finally "served" on TV screens, again to visually satisfy the culinary cravings of viewers across the country. The show, which debuted on China Central Television on a non-prime time slot with relatively few viewers, later turned out to be the most popular documentary to be telecast in a long time.

The natural and smooth narration, soothing background music and mouthwatering homemade dishes meet the fine production standards of the previous season. The result: the first episode of the second season attracted more than 10 million hits on several mainstream video websites.

Thanks to the success of the first season of A Bite of China, viewers have realized that unlike the TV dramas and variety shows they are bombarded with virtually on every channel everyday, a good documentary, instead of just appealing to a niche audience, can fetch higher ratings as well as make considerable economic gains.

A Bite of China has become a resounding success not only because of its simple but creative title or its exquisite urban banquets or uncomplicated but appetizing home recipes. It is a success also because it pays obeisance to the gifts of nature and shows its respect for food. It is a success because of the industrious people who have prompted both gourmets and ordinary viewers to sit in front of their TV sets every Friday evening for another helping of mouthwatering delicacies.

A Bite of China is different from other TV programs despite showing some traditional cooking and food processing techniques and portraying the lives of ordinary people, because it reminds viewers of the sweet and savory times they used to spend with their families.

Besides, the documentary offers a unique view of Chinese people and their relationship with food, as well as the role played by local dishes in Chinese people's relationship with society. The second season of A Bite of China lays greater emphasis on these relationships, going deeper into the social and cultural aspects. But, in the process, it has also sparked a wave of controversies.

Perhaps for some real gourmets, the stories of the hardworking grassroots people have overshadowed the supposedly leading role of food in the new season of the documentary. But a documentary like A Bite of China that discusses the relationship between people and food is not essentially about food per se.

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