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[Memory of the past 40 years] Changes on the table and tongue

Time:2018-08-08 09:19:00 Source: 中国青年网 Source:中国青年网 China Youth International

  The focus of eating has shifted from filling up the stomach to gaining nutrition and health, and changes on the table and tongue breed the favors brought by the reform to our taste buds.

  Food is of top priority for the people.

  Filling up stomachs was the most extravagant thing in the past. To “deceive” the stomach, any edible stuff such as rice bran, wild vegetables, even barks and grass roots appeared in the food of two daily meals (shrinked from the original three meals). I often woke up hungry late at night and ended up with the water in the water jar. My father, a man of few words, once held a bowl of rice bran mixture and suddenly growled, “How can we get through this!” My mother lifted the apron helplessly to wipe the tears in her eyes, and we children hided with fear. As a last resort, my parents and my younger sister went to “seek refuge” with my second brother who worked in other provinces.

  China has ushered into a new era with a loud thunder: the all-round responsibility system in Xiaogang Village has opened the curtain of China’s rural reform. 18 red handprints imbued with supreme heroism have injected substantial hope into Chinese farmers. As a result, the original pieces of land yielded massive grains in a sudden, sending away those days of starving. That year, my family had a big harvest of rice. On the day when the rice was harvested, my mother processed a few pounds of rice for us to eat, leaving the whole family eating and laughing around the fragrant rice. I ate three bowls of rice, enjoying my hard-won full stomach.

  An obvious sign was that the extra food could be traded in the farmer’s market. The state then canceled the policy of unified grain purchase and marketing, fueling China’s grain market development.

  The change reflected on the table is that coarse grains have become refined. Tasting good, refined grains are easy to digest and absorb, yet instead of starchy grains, people are eating more meat. With the advent of anti-season vegetables, those dazzling seasonal vegetables have made three daily meals as rich as that of the New Year.

  The reform has enriched people, and their diet. Nutrition has become all the rage. People have begun to make balanced and reasonable diets, especially to return to nature, making former “staple food” such as wild vegetables and miscellaneous grains the new favorite. Pounds of red beans, mung beans, corn flour and barley scorpions have become popular gifts when the countrymen visit their urban relatives.

  Afterwards, middle-aged and elderly people have begun to be fascinated by health lectures. Cooking according to recipes, using green and environmentally friendly ingredients, and seeking “king of vegetables” and vegetables rich in certain vitamins, they are racking their brains to remove pesticide residues from vegetables. In short, food health care becomes the top priority, and diet is becoming a way of enjoying life.

  The more advanced change is that eating has become a kind of social activity and an important form of ritual exchanges and interpersonal relation maintenance, rendering “eating with friends at restaurants” a new way of life. We can also go to restaurant for family dinner party if we don’t want to cook by ourselves, just enjoying the pleasure of family reunion. In my wife’s words, “Eating now is not just for a full stomach. Instead, it’s a way of communicating and connecting with friends and relatives.”

  Since the reform and opening up, changes in the Chinese table have been like a “TV series” reflecting the progress of Chinese society from starvation to taste scent and healthy diet, breeding the power of China during the 40 years of reform and opening up. With improved living standards, people’s increased senses of gain and happiness, and accelerated social progress, what could be more important than eating well, eating nutritiously, and eating happily?

Editor:Hou Qianqian
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