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Delicious pickles, witness of Chinese reform

Time:2018-06-25 15:01:00 Source: China Youth China Youth International

  A few days ago, there was a trade show packed with multiple articles of daily use at the park next to our community. Roaming around the crowd, I sighed over the improvement of villagers’ living standards over the years. Stopping in front of the pickle area, we saw a dazzling array of pickled vegetables. Looking at those dazzling pickles, my mother asked me if I remember the pickles I had eaten when I was a child. In a flash, the little things about pickles began floating in my heart.

  When I was a child, pickles were common dishes for every family, for life then was full of helplessness. We lived in the north, where fresh vegetables are particularly rare, to a degree that turnips and Chinese cabbages were all we have during the winter. At that time, greenhouses have not yet been created, thus off-season vegetable was not in our choice list even if we could afford it. Without pickles then, we could only eat sheer rice.

  To survive on, every household had to salt vegetables for preservation. My mother bought big and small jars from the city, of which the bigger ones were called “urns”. She put vegetables like cucumbers, garlic sprouts and cabbages into urns after slicing and drying them. When tomatoes were ripe, they would put the washed tomatoes into small bottles for steaming, and preserved them until winter came.

  Looking back now, I quite miss the taste of pickles. In the winter then, a pot of corn grits and pickled cabbages were enough to satisfy us. As for the bottled tomatoes, a pot of noodles sauced with the preserved tomatoes in the winter was all the more unforgettable. Once mother was cooking that delicious food, we three brothers and sisters were typically drooling with longing. The two half-people-high pickle urns were totally magic in our minds.

  How time flies! Pickles gradually fell out of favor since the implementation of household contract responsibility system, which curtailed hunger, enlarged varieties of vegetables and facilitated provision of off-season fruits and vegetables. I was eager to eat meat every day when I was young, and now it’s realized. What I remember most is that I had to exchange meals with tickets during middle school, yet in high school, the meal ticket completely disappeared.

  Times changed now. Villagers gradually moved from clay houses into new brick and storied houses, wore flared trousers and jeans instead of military uniforms and Zhongshan suits, and travelled by motorcycle, electrocar, motor car and ever-progressing subway instead of Forever and Flying Pigeon bicycles dotting streets before.

  Watching TV was probably the most extravagant entertainment activity at that time. I still remember that we had to climb two slopes and didn’t come home until the early hours of the next morning to see TV shows like “The New Legend of White Snake” and “Border Town Prodigal”. Unconsciously, televisions came afterwards, followed by radios, tape recorders, black-and-white televisions, color televisions, and current plasma and LCD TVs, even interconnected networks that have penetrated into our life by every aspect.

  Time passes and the situation has changed. Pickles have long ceased to be the main dish for villagers, but turned into occasional ornament for urbanites. Looking back over the past 40 years, I am filled with a thousand mixed feelings that the long-pressing “material shortage” has been neutralized by the spring breeze of reform and opening up. The pickles, humble as they are, have witnessed China’s transformation from planned economy to market economy, and villagers’ rising material standards of living. (By Yang Fei)

Editor:Hou Qianqian
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