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Chinese Cuisine Documentary ‘Bite of China’ a Visual Feast

Chinese scholar Lin Yutang once defined “men's happiness” as: 

娶一个日本女人做太太;找一个法国女人谈恋爱;雇一个中国人当厨师、找一个英国管家料理家政。

Marrying a Japanese wife, having a French lover, hiring a Chinese cook, employing a British butler.

Needless to say, Chinese cuisine is one of aspects of Chinese culture that people are most proud of. It is also an important part of daily life. Archaeologist and scholar K.C. Chang observed that “Chinese people are especially preoccupied with food” and that “food is at the center of, or at least it accompanies or symbolizes, many social interactions.”

However, the beauty and mystery of Chinese food was never well explained or greatly appreciated on an artistic level even within China until the premiere of a seven-part documentary series on China’s food culture called “A Bite of China” (literally translated as “China on the Tip of the Tongue”) produced by state broadcaster China Central TV in May 2012. The series gives a visual introduction to China's rich culinary tradition and wide regional variety by showing basic local ingredients, cooking methods and local food specialties and customs. Chinese cuisine goes back to basics in the series: old women looking for matsutake mushrooms on pathless mountainsides, a fisherman catching barracuda for supper, a group of farmers collecting lotus roots from a muddy river in the winter. 

Poster of "A bite of China"

Poster for the documentary series “A Bite of China”

Thirty of the country's most respected filmmakers worked for more than a year filming the seven 50-minute episodes. They shot throughout the country, from frozen lakes to bamboo forests. 

The documentary became an instant hit and a trending topic on Chinese social media. Many think it's the best documentary ever produced in China due to its beautiful visual effects and the powerful nostalgia it invokes. It became so popular that the second season was launched in January 2013 and is scheduled for release in 2014. It's likely to be China’s most anticipated sequel of 2014. There are plans to screen ”A Bite of China” in 20 countries including Germany and the United States, but at the moment the show is only available on YouTube

After watching the first season, many netizens commented on leading social network website douban, saying the documentary's significance is more than just the food itself: It's a tour of beautiful places in China and a story of Chinese people:

bug君跪求逆袭: 作为一个吃货,生长在地大物博的中国是人生最美好的事!

As a foodie, it's such a blessing to be born in China, a place of abundant resources.

去他的肥肉!!: 拍得相当不错,这不仅仅是食物的故事,也是人的故事。

A great documentary. This is not just about food, but also stories of people.

老尘 : 原来在华夏内地还有这么多充满文化意味的地方没有去

I didn't know there are so many cultural places I have never been to in China.

Some also think the documentary serves as great soft power:

掉队的猪  爱国主义教育就得这么搞!

Patriotism should be taught this way

However, some were sad that this way of life is slowly evaporating in modern China due to industrialization and environmental pollution: 

阿轩  美食也是一种行将消逝传统,多少有些沉重。

Cuisine is a disappearing tradition, [when I think about this] my heart feels a little heavy. 

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