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Certain viewers take the cynical point of view that A Bite of China portrays Chinese dining as too good to be true, and that a version should be shot showing the other side of the coin. Some have even written the lead-in for it. “As winter approaches, people in southeastern China maintain the freshness of Chinese chives with chalcanthite (hydrated copper sulfate) while citizens of the North China Plain are busy cooking old leather shoes to make medical capsules...” Ren Changzhen’s response is that she is trying to accentuate the positive, and that the seamier side of Chinese life such as questionable food safety is not necessarily across the board.

Chinese people are at least more aware of the foods that should and should not go on their tables. A Bite of China evokes memories of traditional fare, and for this reason it is more than just a food documentary.

Food and travel programs occupy the lion’s share of the overseas documentary market, in which Chinese dishes have a distinct niche. Chen Xiaoqing concludes that discussing and displaying the changes China has experienced through its dishes and associated legends is a potent form of soft power that can reach every corner of the world without fear of misinterpretation.

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VOL.59 NO.12 December 2010 Advertise on Site Contact Us