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An odyssey to find the truth of grains

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-03 07:42
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Embarking on a new mouthwatering journey, the latest season of the popular documentary series, Once Upon a Bite, features a variety of staple foods, such as Zhusheng (bamboo pole) Noodles. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Farming and harvesting cereals is about more than just food, documentary reveals, Xu Fan reports.

For those who initially see how Li Wenlong, the 37-year-old owner of a small restaurant in Macao, works in the kitchen, it is a jaw-dropping moment. As the third-generation inheritor of his family business, Li performs an acrobatic-like routine to prepare the dough for Zhusheng (bamboo pole) Noodles, a type of traditional staple food in southern China.

After mixing flour with chicken and duck eggs and pressing the dough down into a giant flat disc, Li takes out a long bamboo pole, straddling it on one end and putting the dough on the other. Just like being on a seesaw, Li goes up and down around 3,000 times, ensuring that the dough gets the utmost elasticity.

The compelling scene is portrayed in the fourth season of Once Upon a Bite, a popular documentary series launched by Chen Xiaoqing, a prestigious documentary director and producer known for cultural programs exploring the relationship between people and food. So far, the previous three seasons, released in 2018, 2020 and 2021, respectively, have accumulated a total of 3 billion clicks online.

Commencing its run on streaming site Tencent Video on Nov 24, the latest season, about the variety of grains found around the world, has obtained 9.4 points out of 10 on the review aggregator Douban, the highest score of all the four seasons.

Consisting of six episodes, the new program adopts a global perspective to trace a variety of grains — such as wheat, rice, millet, beans and potatoes — and tell the stories of how they become an essential component of the human diet through different kinds of cooking methods.

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