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[Memory of the past 40 years] Imprint of times in breakfast

Time:2018-08-08 13:35:00 Source: China Youth China Youth International

  As the saying goes: a perfect breakfast, a full lunch, and an inadequate dinner make a good day. With current material prosperity, this is quite common, and you can eat whatever you want, yet forty years ago, a good breakfast was largely out of reach.

  I remember when I was young, my mother got up early in the morning to cook breakfast, taking out the rice soup and leaving some of the rice to eat at noon, and others to eat at night with vegetables. The rice soup, sometimes mixed with sweet potatoes, was for breakfast, along with mildewed tofu or self-made pickled radish. Upon drinking, I felt quite full, yet in the second class, my stomach became flat and growled with cold sweat.

  Some people may ask, why not eat breakfast outside? At that time, there was almost no breakfast shop outside. There was only one state-run catering service company that sold breakfast, and the variety was quite rare: fried bread stick for 5 cents, and soy milk for 2 cents. It looks very cheap today, but it was not cheap when the family income then was generally low. We students almost had no pocket money, even the lucky money given during the Chinese New Year was no more than ten or twenty cents. However, even with the ten or twenty cents, we still could not eat a fried bread stick, for each stick required a grain ticket of half Liang (Chinese unit of measurement), thus, fried bread stick and soy milk were quite a luxury then. I remember when I was graduating from high school, the time of long-distance running changed from forenoon to morning, so my PE teacher came to my house to inform me in the morning. I had no time to drink rice soup, so he bought me two fried bread sticks and a bowl of soy milk, which inspired me to win the first place of 3,000 meters for middle school students in the county.

  After graduating from high school, I went to Linchi Farm in Ningdu County, Jiangxi Province to participate in farm works. The farm has a collective canteen that provided breakfast. As we had to do intensive manual works, the breakfast here was much better than rice soup: porridge with rice, and noodles, occasionally. Yet the pickles tasted just salty, without any vegetable taste. Rural areas at the township level didn’t even have breakfast shop.

  As the reform and opening-up proceeds, our life has gradually changed. Although the grain had still to be bought by ticket at the beginning, higher prices began to work. Rice, noodles, oil and other food were gradually available. The canteen on the farm could provide steamed buns, and even meat buns.

  In the 1980s, several breakfast shops appeared in the county. When visiting family members during holidays, I would call a few friends to breakfast shops in the morning and order a few fried bread sticks, two steamed buns and a bowl of soy milk, as a way of friend reunion. Later, breakfast shops and varieties mushroomed over time, and Guangdong morning tea also entered the county. There was not only local food such as deep-fried white radish cakes, Hakka dumplings and seven-layer cakes, but also nonlocal breakfast such as Fujian wonton, Lanzhou stretched noodles and Sichuan pig-heart and-lung soup. Slowly, people’s breakfast habits have changed, and many families are freed from preparing for breakfast early in the morning.

  Since the 18th National Congress, people’s life quality has been dramatically improved. In terms of eating, overnutrition becomes a concern; in terms of living, spaciousness and beautiful environment become the focus; for transportation, big planes, high-speed trains and private cars are everywhere; and for clothing, comfort and personality become trendy. Changes in breakfast are even greater: if you are busy, you can buy and eat as soon as you go out; if you are not in a hurry, you can go to the hotel for buffet, which contains both foreign food and Chinese food; if you don’t want to go out, you can order take-out on the Internet, what you need to do is just to pick up the phone and move your fingers. Eating a perfect breakfast is now quite easy.

  Breakfast constitutes an indispensable part of people’s diet. The past 40 years have witnessed the changes in breakfast from inadequate food to diversified and qualified diet, and from porridge to western elements. The rich and delicious breakfast unveils improvement of people’s living standards, and changes in daily breakfast are reminder of changes of the times.

Editor:Hou Qianqian
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