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President Xi, the UK and Fish & Chips

The British…a brilliant people. A colorful history, classic royals, strong ales, and a peculiar creativity when it comes to spicing up their cuisine. One look at a stargazy pie or a plate full of jellied eels, and you’ll understand what the fuss is all about.

stargazy pie

Stargazy pie is one of the most well-known British dishes in China in part due to its poetic name and its…astonishing appearance

As a matter of fact, British cuisine has been quite notorious in countries where foodies have a high gastronomic expectation. In China, where the common greeting phrase is “have you eaten?”, British cuisine is considered as one of the “Heian Liaoli” (黑暗料理, literally translated as “dark cuisine”, or weird food).

To discover how British cuisine is perceived in China, you might start by taping “british cuisine” in Baidu Image (China’s most popular research engine).  And here are the results on the first page.

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Let’s take a closer look…
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To pair with a nice glass of wine…

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And for the main course, we present….

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Saving the best for last….Dragon au Chocolat

Eat up!!

Things start to change since Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the UK at the beginning of this week. An eminent figure, President Xi has a strong influence on Chinese trends. Thus, when he ordered fish & chips, the dish became the most sought after meal in China.  

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Popularity of “Fish & Chips” on Chinese search engines

 

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Popularity of “Fish & Chips” on Chinese micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo

People are talking about “fish & chips” all over the internet. Here are some posts on Sina Weibo:

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“Are there any good fish & chips shops in Beijing? I want to have some so badly.”

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“To synchronize with president Xi, we just had fish & chips 🙂 🙂 :)”

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“I wonder how would President Xi feel after finishing his fish & chips… Satisfied? :p”

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“You could say that fish & chips is quite popular these days.”

 

China-UK relations, once frozen after UK Prime Minister David Cameron met with the Dalai Lama in 2012, are now warming up again, over a plate of fish and chips.

As mentioned by British PM, the Sino-British relationship has now entered a Golden era. The United Kingdom is the first European country to join the China-led AIIB development bank. Eager to establish Chinese influence on a global scale, President Xi has every reason to welcome this rapprochment. By ordering a fish & chips during his state visit, President Xi shown a clear sign that China is interested in a profound cultural exchange in addition to a wide-spectrum economic partnership with the UK.

It goes without saying that the best way to understand a country and its people is to dine with them, to understand its gastronomic culture, having the power to consolidate a strong relationship between states. This, in turn, helps build trust and increase further exchanges, cultural, political, or economic. However, it remains to be seen whether “British food” could be the best representative of its culture. WIth one look back at the stargazy pie, the British people should have no intention to fix themselves such a bad reputation.

Never mind.

We still have Shakespeare, corgis, and digestive biscuits.

Cheers, mate!