A few thoughts on “A Bite of China”
Of all the food shows I have watched in the last few years, one of the most interesting ones is a show on China Central Television called A Bite of China. As far as I can tell, there are currently 7 episodes, all of which are available online with English subtitles (links at the end of this post).
A Bite of China is not really a cooking show. There are no recipes, no advice to home cooks on how to cook this or that. Instead, it focuses on the culinary heritage of China; how food was and still is grown, how it is prepared, and what it means to people. It is a very earnest show, carefully highlighting some of the food culture of the country (7 hours for a country like China would never be enough, of course).
The production values are also just wonderful. The scenes are all beautifully shot and the directors manage to capture the essence of the scenery, the food, and, most of all, the people. Simple people, with an interest in food that stems from their desire to make the most of what is available to them, to follow and build on the traditions their ancestors passed on to them. Their own earnestness, hard work, and simple values shines throughout the show.
I have long had an interest in Chinese food, that is, authentic Chinese food, but I have not found good sources for understanding it. As experienced and intuitive as I consider myself when it comes to food, I profess to being pretty much clueless about cooking Chinese food. I know a few things about the different regions and some of the techniques, but further than that… A Bite of China scratches some of the itch, but that is not the magic of the show. In fact it has nothing to do with China, I think, and it could be a cooking show about any region of the world. The winning element of this show is its focus on the underlying importance of food to people. It perfectly captures our connection to the earth, the sea, the sky, all the ingredients that come together to sustain us. And it does so, beautifully.
I highly recommend you spend some time watching this show. And if you have similar shows to suggest, please let me know!
- Episode 1, The Gift of Nature: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRHNa9qdtlw
- Episode 2, The Story of Staple Food: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCgYUKPNCug
- Episode 3, The Inspiration of Transformation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxQ3j7ls1J0
- Episode 4, The Taste of Time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RETcZdsp1k
- Episode 5, The Secret of The Kitchen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QxvbeZ-9m4
- Episode 6, Harmonious Flavours: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2TT7tAWBTI
- Episode 7, Our Fields: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD9KrXJfbhU
- Website in English: http://www.a-bite-of-china.org/