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China Says Potato

Rice and wheat have been the dominant staple in China for centuries. The potato, generally perceived a vegetable instead of staple food, is a cuckoo in the Chinese nest. Something is about to change.

Manya Koetse

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Rice and wheat have been the dominant staple in China for centuries. The potato, generally perceived a vegetable instead of staple food, is a cuckoo in the Chinese nest. Something might be about to change, as China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced changes in China’s national cuisine this week, turning the potato into a hot topic on social media.

Chinese cuisine is globally famous, with rice being the essential part of the daily menu. Traditionally, rice and wheat are part of the main course in most areas of China, whereas potato generally is considered a vegetable and treated as such. It is not uncommon to eat potato as a side dish next to rice, or use it as one of the vegetables for hotpot. The potato topic became a hot thread on Sina Weibo (#土豆成主粮#) when China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced on January 6th that potato, following rice, wheat and corn, will become one of the new staple foods of China this year.

The introduction of the potato as a staple is believed to improve the overall nutritional value of Chinese style meals. More importantly, the move comes as part of China’s possible solution to low agricultural yield. According to the Ministry, “[The move] is an attempt to ensure food security, ease the pressure on the environment and increase the income of farmers” (foodnavigator-asia).

Due to China’s large population and growing size of cities, the total area of farm field is decreasing year by year. The adverse environment such as weather, water population and land population has dramatically increased the cost of cultivating wheat or rice. The potato is therefore seen as a viable substitute for future generations.

 

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On Sina Weibo, netizens have started sharing various recipes for making potatoes. The traditional Chinese way of cooking potatoes differs from the mainstream cooking style in the West. Besides turning them into chips, jacked potatoes, crisps or mashed potato, the future Chinese potato will mainly be used for noodles, steamed buns or vermicelli, which are all made of potato flour.

 

– by Fan Bai

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©2014 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Brands & Marketing

Young Chinese Woman Dies at Haidilao Hotpot Restaurant

The woman allegedly choked while having beef tripe.

Manya Koetse

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On September 8, a woman from Putian in Fujian Province unexpectedly passed away while having hotpot at a Haidilao restaurant in a local mall.

The incident went trending on Chinese social media on Thursday, with the hashtags “Woman Suddenly Passes Away While Having Haidilao Hotpot” (#女孩海底捞吃火锅意外身亡#) and “Haidilao Responds to Female Customer Passing Away During Dinner” (#海底捞回应女顾客就餐时身亡#) receiving 50 million and 300 million views respectively.

According to various Chinese news reports, the 21-year-old woman had just finished eating beef tripe, the edible lining from the cow stomach, and drank some water after which she suddenly became unwell.

Footage circulating on Chinese social media shows how restaurant staff gave first aid to the woman by performing the Heimlich maneuver while emergency workers were underway.

Although it is rumored the young woman choked on the tripe, this has not yet been confirmed as an investigation into the cause of death is ongoing. The Haidilao restaurant where the incident happened is currently closed, and Haidilao responded that they are deeply saddened and will do all they can to fully cooperate with the police to investigate the case.

Haidilao (海底捞) is one of China’s most popular restaurant chains serving authentic Sichuan hotpot, a dining style where fresh meat and vegetables are dipped in simmering broth. Besides its tasty hotpot and wide selection of ingredients and drinks, Haidilao is known for its high-quality service. The staff is thoroughly trained in providing the best customer service, and Haidilao has introduced new concepts throughout the years to enhance the customer experience.

Haidilao is a very reputable company and is known to respond quickly to avert social media crises (example here and here).

As the story goes trending, many Chinese netizens point out the choking hazard of beef tripe. One lung doctor (@呼吸科大夫胡洋) also responded to the incident, suggesting that the Heimlich maneuver might not have been life-saving in this case since beef tripe is long and soft and could block the respiratory tract if the Heimlich maneuver is performed while the person is standing up, since it could potentially cause the tripe to go deeper instead of being pushed out.

The doctor recommends in these kind of emergency situations that if possible, for a chance of survival, the person could then be placed into an upside down, upper body down position for the Heimlich maneuver.

Other doctors on Weibo also use this moment to provide more information about how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Many online commenters think Haidilao is not necessarily to blame for what happened. “Judging from the video, the staff was quick and correct in their response. As for why the woman could not have been rescued, we’ll have to wait for the final reports.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Brands & Marketing

Bubble Tea Madness: ‘Modern China Tea Shop’ Opening Creates Chaos in Nanjing

This bubble tea shop’s Nanjing opening got so crazy that police had to intervene and scalpers were reselling tea for 200 yuan ($30) per cup.

Manya Koetse

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Despite the blistering heat, Chinese bubble tea lovers lined up for the opening of a new Nanjing milk tea shop as early as 4 am. By 11 am, police discouraged people from coming to the area and the shop had to close its doors. The hype surrounding the opening shows the popularity of bubble tea and domestic brands in China.

The opening of a Modern China Tea Shop branch in Nanjing was much-anticipated, but it only lasted for about thirty minutes. So many people had come to the bubble tea shop’s opening at the Jingfeng Center (景枫中心) that the situation was out of control and the shop had to close its doors again.

The Modern China Tea Shop, known as Chayan Yuese (茶颜悦色) in China, was established in 2013 and is headquartered in Changsha. They call themselves a “creative milk tea store,” meaning they mostly sell desserts and milk tea or bubble tea, which has become very popular among mainland Chinese consumers over the past few years.

Milk tea products by Chayan Yuese.

Pearl milk tea or bubble tea was first invented in Taiwan in 1988. Most pearl milk tea products contain an iced tea base and milk, with chewy tapioca pearls and sugar. Although this is a standard recipe, China’s many bubble milk tea shops and chains now also have a growing selection of fruit-flavored bubble tea or chocolate-flavored bubble tea. Since milk tea came to the mainland market in 1996, it has beaten coffee as a drink in terms of popularity (read more here).

Through its logo and marketing style, Chayan Yuese or Modern China Tea Shop positions itself as an authentic mainland Chinese business, stressing Chinese traditional style and history. In an era of ‘China Chic‘, this clearly resonates with consumers.

Chayan Yuese uses traditional Chinese illustrations and stories on its products.

Earlier this week, the popular Modern China Tea Shop announced its upcoming Nanjing debut on social media. Many people already came to the mall in the early morning hours, starting at 4 am, to be among the first customers waiting in front of the shop, but the line got so out of hand that the entire area inside and outside the mall became blocked.

Chinese media outlet The Paper writes that local police issued a notice on Thursday morning to discourage more people from coming to the area since there were already too many people at the scene.

Due to the crowds and the blistering heat, Nanjing police sent out a team of officers to the tea shop to maintain order.

Meanwhile, some sellers were offering their services on WeChat or platforms such as Xianyu to stand in line and buy milk tea for others. The hype was so big that they could charge 200 yuan (nearly $30) to get their customers one cup of tea. Modern China Tea Shop later said they did not support such practices.

The shop was officially scheduled to be open from 9 am to 10 pm, but at 9.30 am, the doors had closed again, with a notice saying the store was “sold out” and would be closed for the day.

On social media, some commenters were confused about the long queues. “The only way I’d queue up like this is to get my nucleic acid test,” one commenter wrote, while others also wondered why people would be willing to gather in crowds like this in the Covid era. “Don’t you have to work?” some wrote.

The unusual situation also raised suspicions about Chayan Yuese hiring people to stand in line to increase the hype surrounding their opening, with some sources alleging that the store did in fact recruit people to stand in line for a payment of $10.

“I would only stand in line for a drink at 4 am if it’s an elixir of immortality,” one Weibo user wrote.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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