Chinese Food as a Cultural Artifact | Fuchsia Dunlop | Conversations with Tyler

Posted on

COWEN: I think you would agree, Shanghai isone of the wealthier, more modern parts of China.

As you see China developing, you seetraditional markets to some extent, in some parts of China fading away.

Supply chains become longer.

Large companies play a bigger role.

The refrigerator playsa new role in the food supply chain, so things can sit around for longer.

Do you wonder that a lot of Chinese food will become bad in the way that American food hasbecome bad? And if that happens, will it come to Shanghai first or are you more optimisticthan that? DUNLOP: You can see all these things happening,and it is very sad.

For example, restaurants that I knew — this is in Chengdu — wherethey made all their dumplings from scratch, like maybe 15, 20 different kinds every day,now will buy some of them ready prepared.

Supermarkets stock easy-seasoning packetsto make mapo tofu.

[laughs] This kind of thing.

Then in the cities there’s a huge loss ofcooking skills.

Young professionals often rely on their parents to cook for the childrenat home.

They, the middle generation, are not learning traditional cookery.

They’renot learning how to pickle and cure.

There’s all this being lost.

People, theylead more hectic lives and they are increasingly eating ready-prepared food.

You can see thatChina is going down the same sad path as the rest of us in some ways.

But the thing that gives me hope is that in China food is understood so deeply as thefoundation of health and happiness.

It has been a culture that is so obsessed with food.

They have this wonderful resource that I hope people will — and some people are nowgetting to the point of looking at Chinese food as a cultural artifact and somethingvaluable to be preserved.