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【Memory of the past 40 years】Treat and reform

Time:2018-09-19 21:33:00 Source: China Youth China Youth International

  Treat entails both etiquette and expression of appreciation, during which friends and family members gather together to have fun. Mutual entertainment is a tradition, but the quality and quantity differ massively in the past and present.

  At the end of 1974, I went to the Linchi Farm in Ningdu County of Jiangxi Province to work, along with many 20-year-old young workers. After a day of backbreaking work, our stomachs frequently rumbled at night, but most of the time we just had to get through it. Yet sometimes we would take actions together: some caught soft-shelled turtles in the pond (there were many turtles at that time), some dug loaches on weekends, some cooked those “trophies”, and the cook bought a few bowls of rice in the canteen, enjoying the wonderful meal prepared through collective efforts. Some young guys with drinking capacity preferred to chat with the cheapest wine made from residues of sweet potatoes, which was supplied by the farm at 0.6 yuan a catty. A catty of strong wine, several friends talking everything under the sun, plus tofu made from flour, made a good “wine feast”.

  I remember that in a winter, there was a meeting attended by four-level cadres in the county, and all the production team leaders in the farm were honored to participate. Surprisingly, a team leader went to the meeting with a large porcelain cup. Everybody was wondering what he was going to do. After three days, he came back and quietly asked me to bring the meal to his room before dinner. In his room, I saw a firing washbasin and the large porcelain cup, which was steaming with a strong meaty scent. Smelling the scent, I quickly squatted by the fire. He said to us, “I cleared all the tables after dinner during this meeting, and collected the food for you to enjoy, try it”. The porcelain cup was filled with vegetables and oily soup, and decorated with a few pieces of tasteful fat pork. With relish, we ate up a bowl of rice in no time and ran to the canteen for another. The precious leftovers were like delicacies of every kind then, giving us endless memories. Thanks to the team leader.

  As time went by, some workers decided to get married, and invited us to the wedding ceremony, which was actually a tea party. With peanuts specially permitted by the farm and hard candy bars bought from the store, we could have fun together without wine. At the time when our wages were very low, 1 yuan was all we could afford as the gift money. Intimate friends and relatives giving 2 yuan would be invited for dinner, for which many people even didn’t eat lunch.

  After the reform and opening-up, workers’ income increased substantially as a result of implementation of the land contract system and piece-rate wage system in the farm and subordinate factories. In addition, chicken and duck, fish and meat were more available than ever in the market and our own houses. The quantity and quality of treat also dramatically changed. Killing pigs or geese, we would call friends to gather together for fun and deep emotions. Later, the wedding became a little grand. Treating attendants with wine and dinner has become a tradition, but the food was often eaten up, even a drop of soup was not left.

  As the reform proceeds, food and clothing no longer concern us. “Eat dry when busy, eat dilute when idle, and eat half-dry and half-dilute when normal” has been a thing of the past. Meat becomes frequenter on ordinary people’s tables, such as pork, beef, mutton and seafood. Food supply also expands: food from all over the world could be seen and bought everywhere.

  Nowadays, treat is as simple as eating fast food. You can treat a friend whenever you want with whatever you like, at home or in a restaurant. Or you don’t have to go out, just pick up your phone to order Chinese food, western food or buffet. How convenient and sumptuous! Now during dinner parties, we don’t eat for a full stomach, but for fun and the pleasure of communicating with friends to enhance relations.

  The then young boys and girls who worked together on the farm are now grey-haired elders. Many retired ones now live in Ganzhou, and often hold dinner parties one after another to share their feelings, memories, and longing for future. Seeing their bright smiles, I know they are enjoying their happy life.

  Over the past decades, treat has grown into a culture and entertainment. As treat quality and quantity ascend, I profoundly felt China’s change and the taste of happy life.

Editor:Hou Qianqian
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