Memories of China
- September 22, 2008 6:48 AM |
- By Jessica Wong
by Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca
I immediately worry about my relatives who live in the southern part of the country, including two cousins with toddlers. I also feel embarrassed whenever these stories come to light over here in North America (despite the fact that we're often struggling with our own food scandals).
One of my favourite food-related stories is from my visit to China a few years ago. I remember stopping in a famed Shanghai market area and marveling over a long, snaking queue of locals and tourists waiting to buy freshly made pork dumplings (xiaolongbao).
A small crew was busy grinding pork, mixing up small mountains of a simple filling, expertly forming the dumplings, steaming dozens in batches, serving and then selling the piping hot portions (16 tiny morsels for about $1!) — all behind a long stretch of glass so passersby could watch in anticipation of their take-away. I inhaled a double batch drizzled with some black vinegar and ended up ruining my dinner, but it was worth it.
However, that was one of the rare times on my trip that I was adventurous enough to eat from "the street" without some kind of review or tour guide to direct me. While it was sometimes the offerings that turned me off (I, too, passed by the insects-on-a-stick my colleague Andree turned down), I was also coloured by the country's reputation of food scandals.
After all, another of my China memories was a story that dominated the news during my visit: the discovery of faked salted duck eggs. People had tampered with and sold shipments of regular chicken eggs doctored to appear to be the more expensive and more time consuming to produce salted duck eggs.
One of the amazing things I noticed during my trip was an incredible sense of personal drive and initiative in nearly every person I encountered. In a country where many have only themselves to rely on, the people simply do not give up — whether they are begging for change, selling clothes in a shop or balancing work and school so as to get a better job and support one's family.
Unfortunately, as we're seeing again and again, this sense of enterprise also extends to nefarious individuals out to profit at any cost and without a care for anyone else.
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