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《舌尖上的中国》中的饮食文化

2014-07-23    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Bon appetite

We all love the food we grow up on, but we also seek adventure in the food we have never tasted. A hugely popular TV documentary series puts the spotlight on a culinary tradition that should make China proud. Of all the subjects fit for documentary filmmaking, food is probably not high on the priority list.

There have been a smattering of fictional feature films with food as the main theme, such as Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman - but food in such films is the icing on the cake, while the human drama is the cake, per se.

That's why A Bite of China has been such a surprise hit since first appearing on our TV screens in 2012.

Without anything like a promotional fanfare, the series has attracted a following larger than the biggest drama or comedy shows.

Its main ingredient is the clever interweaving of human stories with the preparation of food. But in this case, the audience mainly sees the human stories as the appetizer, and details about the food as the real beef.

There were even some complaints when human characters took up more screen time than the dishes.

But still, the runaway success of this well-made TV recipe has whipped up a food frenzy in the Middle Kingdom.

Items featured on the show have seen their sales skyrocket within a short time of being aired. In the first season, a rare mushroom made its way from a Tibetan forest into an upmarket coastal city restaurant.

The difficulty in collecting the elusive fungus meant an eye-watering price on the menu. As well as its fantastic taste, the filmmakers probably quite rightly considered the livelihood of the collectors when they highlighted that particular delicacy.

But it still had an unexpected fallout: So many people (the rich, of course) were alerted to it, that demand shot up and the fragile ecosystem where it grows is now threatened.

In Season 2, which has just ended, the show switched its focus to items more affordable to everyone. No longer were rare delicacies the main attraction, and so maybe gastronomic enthusiasm has been dampened slightly.

For many, curiosity remains the main driving force behind high-end Chinese cuisine.

Some seek out rare plants and animals in the name of gaining better health benefits, or delectability.

But I challenge that.
I have been enticed to try a few such rare delicacies in my time, and the truth be told, they are often not as delicious as billed.

On a trip to Hainan, one fish I was sold for 10 times the price of a regular one was not half as tasty as the lesser option.

No, it is the inaccessibility that raises the perceived value of some items.
The thought of eating items only a few can afford is the reason why some species are endangered. In that sense, the makers of A Bite of China have been right to steer away from those rare edibles that represent status symbols in high society.

But maybe the biggest upside of the series is the awakening of love among a wider swath of the Chinese public, simply for the food they consume on a daily basis.

It is not every day that people treat what they eat as part of their culture. But it could certainly be argued that Chinese food is the only part of Chinese tradition that has deeply touched almost every other culture around the globe.
In the US, for instance, even small towns with no Chinese inhabitants have
Chinese restaurants.
Chinese food is known to be delicious and affordable - maybe not exactly Michelin-caliber - and for those places which do have a Chinese community, the restaurant can act as a lifeline of many who settle there.

However, for a long time, some have harbored the elitist view that food is somehow low on the list of a country's cultural markers.

In the 1980s, I joined a group of Chinese dignitaries on a tour of North America.

They dined out in so many Chinese restaurants (they were not yet accustomed to Western food, not even fast food) that some feared that many Americans might simply consider Chinese food was all China had to offer.

That offended many Chinese-Americans, who made a good living as restaurateurs. But after watching this show, surely nobody would now dare make such a flippant remark.

Today, people are so genuinely proud of Chinese food that some have moved to the other end of the scale, believing in the superiority of what they eat, to the exclusion of everything else. In an era of little mobility, people ate what they grew, with almost no chance of tasting things from afar.

People grew attached to their own foods, taking them along when they relocated.
This was extolled as a virtue, or a sign of nostalgia, in the series.

I certainly view our food as a key part of our cultural identity, which is etched on us, mainly because of economic necessity.

Nowadays young people in big cities have access to all kinds of food. They may not like all of them, but that smirk of disdain is no longer visible on their face because they probably don't have their home cuisine as the only benchmark.
There is nothing wrong with thinking your hometown's food is the best.

However, one should caution against the flip side of this belief - that unfamiliar foods are simply inferior.

When CNN's website ran an article headlined "Top 10 disgusting foods in the world" about two years ago, many cried foul.

Most of the items highlighted were from Asia, including my personal favorite, pidan: the famous "hundred-year egg" or "thousand-year egg". Duck, chicken or quail eggs are preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls for up to several months.

I have to admit, I would not have had the guts to taste some of the other choices. But I'm sure their own locals love them. All have to be taken in perspective.

I'm sure most citizens of Atlanta, Georgia, where CNN is headquartered, would have been appalled by some of these foods.

But CNN is not just an Atlanta operation. It has viewers across the world.
Maybe to be accurate, the piece should have added a qualifying clause "from the point of view of middle Americans".

Likewise, Chinese foodies intoxicated by the pride of their own food should avoid rushing to any prejudicial conclusions.

Yes, Chinese cuisine is rich in its regional diversity, but it is not the world's only great food.

The way the Chinese prepare their food has as much flair as art - but so does French food.

Worldwide, Chinese food may not be on a par with French in terms of prestige. Then again, I'm not bothered by prestige.

Cultural confidence lies in the conviction of your own roots and at the same time in the awareness that there are other equally great things to consider in the national identity mix.

There is no conflict between preserving our own cultural heritage and absorbing nutrients from other cultures.

Only when one is extremely weak would one see all things different as a threat.
Food culture evolves with time. Unlike other culture-based products, food is first of all a necessity and, as such, its health values should not be ignored.
But food rises above that. It goes beyond filling the stomach and satisfying hunger, and slips into the realm of culinary art that appeals to all senses.


As the pace of globalization accelerates, there will be less and less pure-bred food.

So, for a younger generation so fixated on Western-origin fast food, this documentary is a gentle reminder of a luxury being offered up every day in our own kitchens, that we all may well have been taking for granted.

相关内容

我们喜欢那些从小吃到大的食物,但也会去尝试那些从未尝过的食物。大型电视纪录片《舌尖上的中国》播出令国人自豪的传统美食。在这纪录片的所有主题中,食物不是最主要的主题。

只有很少的故事片是以食物为主要题材,例如李安的《饮食男女》,影片中的食物可算锦上添花,然而最主要的还是人物剧情本身。

这就是为何《舌尖上的中国》在2012年开播以来反响巨大的一个原因。

没有过多地推广宣传,但《舌尖上的中国》这个系列却拥有一大批粉丝,比最大型的戏剧或喜剧演出还受欢迎。

纪录片在描述食物取材时,巧妙地融入人们的故事。在这种情况下,观众就把人们的故事当作开胃菜,把对食物的详细介绍当作主菜。

当然,当影片过多地刻画人物而不是介绍美食时,也会引起观众的抱怨。

但这丝毫不影响《舌尖上的中国》在中国的成功,还激起人们对食物的狂热。

在纪录片播出后不久,片中出现的食材,其销量就直线飙升。

在第一季中,一种西藏森林中的稀有蘑菇被运到沿海城市的一所高级餐厅中。

由于这些稀有的菌类食物取材困难,所以餐厅菜单上的菌类价格就高的惊人。制片人在强调这种独特的美味时,不单考虑食材的美妙口感,而且还考虑到采集者的生活。

纪录片仍出现始料未及的结果:那就是太多的有钱人开始注意它,需求涌动,导致当地脆弱的生态系统面临威胁。

在刚刚结束的第二季中,纪录片把食材的重心放在那些人人可得的食材上。不再以稀有美食来吸引观众,所以观众的烹饪激情或许有些减退。

对于很多人来说,在博大精深的中国烹饪背后,好奇仍然是主要的驱动力。

为了更加健康,体验更美味的食物,人们就会去寻找那些稀有的动植物。
但是我却很怀疑这个。

我曾被劝说去尝试一些稀有美食,但事实是,它们常常没有宣传中所描述的那般美味。
有一次在海南,我以10倍于普通价的价格买了条鱼,之后发现还没有普通价的鱼一半好吃。
要提升对食物价值的认知是有难度的。

只有一些人能吃得起,这种想法是导致一些物种濒临灭绝的原因之一。

鉴于此,制片人通过《舌尖上的中国》避开那些象征着上流社会的稀有食材是正确的。
或许这个系列的最大正能量是唤醒了神州大地上的人们对日常饮食的热爱。

日常生活中,人们不会把饮食当作其文化的一部分。但是,中国的传统文化中只有中国饮食能深深地影响世界上其他国家的文化,当然这点肯定是有争议的。
例如,在美国,就算居住地没有中国人,也会有中国的餐厅。

中国食物价廉物美,为世人公知。或许没有米其林水准,在那些有中国社区的地方,中国餐厅对居住在那里的人们来说就像是他们的命脉。

然而,在很长一段时间,一些人会有一种观念,觉得在一个国家的文化中,饮食文化应该是属于低端文化。

20世纪80年代,我随同中国高官去北美旅行。

他们在很多中国餐厅都吃过(他们还不适应西餐,快餐也不行),他们当中有些人担心美国人会以为中国饮食文化是中国文化的全部。

这让美籍华人很不舒服,他们开餐厅谋生,而且过得还不错。但是看完《舌尖上的中国》,相信没人会作这种肤浅的评论。

如今,中国人真正以中国饮食自豪,有些人会较为极端,只相信自己所吃的就是最好的,其他一切都得靠边站。

在一个定居的时代,人们从小到大吃的都是身边的食物,很难有机会吃到他乡的食物。
人们对他们自己的食物情有独钟,就算移居也会带上。

在《舌尖上的中国》中,这种情况被歌颂为一种美德,或是思乡之情。

我当然觉得饮食文化是文化认同的一个关键部分,铭刻在我们身上,主要还是跟经济有关。

如今,大城市里的年轻人有机会品尝各类食物。他们可能不会喜欢全部的食物,但是也不会对别的食物流露出鄙夷的表情,因为他们不会只以家乡菜为尊。

认为家乡菜最好吃,这也没什么错。

但是,这种观念容易使人做出轻率的判断,就是会觉得不熟悉的食物就是下品。

大概两年前,CNN网站上有这么一篇文章“世上最难吃的10种食物”,其中很多都不合事实。

其中多数食物都是来自亚洲,包括我个人最爱的皮蛋:著名的“百年老蛋”或“千年老蛋”。鸭蛋,鸡蛋或鹌鹑蛋保存在粘土罐中,连同灰,食盐,石灰和米糠放一起几个月。

我必须承认,我没有勇气去品尝其中一些新食物,但我确信他们当地人会喜欢它们。我能做的就是求同存异。

CNN总部位于乔治亚州亚特兰大,我相信大多数亚特兰大人会被这些食物吓到。

但是CNN不是一个仅为亚特兰大服务的平台,它的观众遍布全球。
准确地说,上面的标题应该加个定语“来自美国中部人们的观点”
同样地,中国美食家沉醉于他们引以为豪的食物,他们应该避免作出那些带有偏见的结论。
没错,中国美食丰富多彩,每个地区都不一样,但它不是世界唯一的美食。

中国人准备美食很有艺术性,法国也是这样。

中国美食在世界范围内可能还没有法国美食来得有声望。不过,再说一次,我不会被声望困扰。

在混杂的国家身份认同中,当有其他同样伟大的东西同时存在时,文化信心根植于坚定的信仰。

保留传统文化和吸收外来文化,这两者之间没有冲突。

只有当一个人极端不自信时,才会视所有不一样的东西为一种威胁。

饮食文化随着时间不断发展,不像其他文化产品,饮食在日常所需中排行首位,所以,饮食健康不应被忽视。

但是,饮食有更多的含义,不单单是把东西吃进胃里,填饱肚子这么简单。它是能吸引各个感官的美食艺术。

随着全球化进程的加速,纯品种食物将会越来越少。

所以,对于常吃西式快餐的年轻一代人来说,《舌尖上的中国》提醒着我们:我们每天吃着自家厨房的东西,觉得没有什么,其实是豪华盛宴。


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