CRAZY FOR COOK­ING SHOWS

Rea­sons be­hind China’ s in­fat­u­a­tion with food pro­grams

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Huang Yi­ran

Eat­ing alone used to be a sad story, but with the pros­per­ity of on­line videos and dra­mas, it is not the case any­more. Dur­ing meal times, more and more young peo­ple open their cell­phones, choose a fa­vorite show, and eat while staring at the glow­ing screen and burst into laugh­ter now and then.

Li Yu­jia, a 19-year-old stu­dent study­ing at the Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics in Bei­jing, is one of them. A foodie and a video lover, she is happy to eat while watch­ing food pro­grams on her lap­top or cell­phone. A show she has been re­cently watch­ing is about two Chi­nese girls trav­el­ing around Ja­pan to find del­i­cacy, and the re­cent episode of the show has been viewed more than 26,000 times on China’s top mi­croblog plat­form Sina Weibo.

“I love Ja­pan and Ja­panese food, and the show con­tains rich con­tent rang­ing from se­lect­ing and pur­chas­ing raw ma­te­ri­als for cook­ing in a high­end restau­rant. In ad­di­tion, through elab­o­rate shoot­ing, the food looks more at­trac­tive,” Li told Metropoli­tan about the rea­son she loves the show.

Be­sides this show, she also watched many on­line food pro­grams.

“I found that if I don’t eat some­thing when watch­ing these shows, I will end up feel­ing very hun­gry. So I pre­fer to watch them dur­ing meals,” she said.

For Wang Keyi, a 26-year-old woman work­ing in a mu­sic com­pany in Shang­hai, watch­ing an episode of an on­line drama or pro­gram proves re­lax­ing dur­ing lunch time. Re­cently she fell in love with the hot broad­cast Chi­nese food doc­u­men­tary Once Upon a Bite, and usu­ally watches it in bed be­fore she goes to sleep.

“I tried to watch it dur­ing lunch, but there are so many things I don’t want to ig­nore, so I found my­self rewind­ing the show all the time,” Wang said. “How­ever, it’s a tor­ture for a foodie like me to watch it at night be­cause I’ll feel starv­ing with noth­ing to eat. Then I can­not help open­ing some food de­liv­ery app or on­line shop­ping plat­forms like Taobao.”

She’s got a point. Peo­ple’s pas­sion for food pro­grams or cook­ing shows can quickly trans­form into sales vol­ume for on­line stores. Con­sider A Bite of

China 3, for ex­am­ple. Af­ter the episode in­tro­duced a hand­made iron pot from Zhangqiu, a small district in China’s Ji’nan, Shan­dong Prov­ince, all the pots on Taobao were quickly sold out in one night, and cus­tomers who want to get a hand­made Zhangqiu pot have to wait for sev­eral months or even a year, En­ter­tain­ment In­dus­try, a We Me­dia fo­cus­ing on en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, re­ported on Novem­ber 1.

The same thing hap­pened dur­ing the de­but of Once Upon A Bite. Af­ter its first episode was broad­casted on both TV and the in­ter­net, many on­line shops on Taobao be­gan to sell the same food ap­pear­ing in the doc­u­men­tary: ham from East China’s An­hui Prov­ince, smoked horse meat from the Xin­jiang Uyghur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, and the crab roe sauce from Suzhou, Jiangsu Prov­ince. Many on­line shops have sold vol­umes of more than 1,000.

“It’s not un­ex­pected,” said Adrien

Ni­clot from France, who has been liv­ing in Bei­jing for seven years and is a huge fan of Chi­nese food.

“China and France share the same craze for food. We both love cook­ing and eat­ing, and we have a long cater­ing cul­ture his­tory. So peo­ple must be very fas­ci­nated by food and re­lated pro­grams.”

“In France, we also have food re­al­ity shows, like Masterchef and Top Chef. Or­di­nary peo­ple can cook like a mas­ter chef, and then they com­pete in the show. It’s both a com­pe­ti­tion and en­ter­tain­ment,” Ni­clot said.

Irina Korov­ina from Rus­sia also loves Chi­nese food pro­grams very much. She watched a re­al­ity show with friends, in which some Chi­nese stars cooked seafood and crabs. “My Chi­nese friend rec­om­mended [the show] to me, and I was at­tracted to it at first sight. They cooked the seafood dif­fer­ently from us, but I was fas­ci­nated by the lively at­mos­phere, and the dish they

made looked very de­li­cious too," said Korov­ina.

Ex­quis­ite pic­tures, fin­ger-lick­ing food and cuisines, abun­dant cul­ture and touch­ing sto­ries, and the par­tic­i­pa­tion of stars – are the el­e­ments that make food pro­grams a per­fect meal com­pan­ion for younger Chi­nese peo­ple, even when they are far away from home.

“Af­ter I left China and started my life in the Nether­lands, I found my­self al­ways watch­ing A Bite of China dur­ing sup­per,” said Yang Man­ling, a stu­dent study­ing in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal econ­omy in the Nether­lands.

She added that she has only been liv­ing there for two months and she has al­ready missed the home fla­vor of China.

“For me, Chi­nese fla­vors are like the com­fort zone that gives me a sense of safety,” Yang said. “Liv­ing in a for­eign city, I want to find some­thing fa­mil­iar and com­fort­ing. For me, that is food.”

Photo: Li Hao/GT

In­creas­ing Chi­nese mil­len­ni­als feed lone­li­ness through food pro­grams.

Photo: VCG

Many young peo­ple see watch­ing food pro­grams as com­fort­ing and a way to re­lax.

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