Gastronomic delights at Beijing 2022 draws praise and criticism

By Lorena Canto

Beijing, Feb 15 (EFE).- The Winter Olympics organizers sought to win the hearts of attendees through their stomach, but the food inside Beijing 2022 bubble has drawn varying reactions with several athletes swearing by the Chinese delicacies while the press complained about the prices on the menu.

Chinese-American star of the games, Eileen Gu, who is also a model, has been an ambassador of the rich cuisine of the Asian country.

Gu, which competes for China, has been seen during the games eating a jiucai hezi, a sort of bagel stuffed with chives and eggs.

She has also posted photos on social media of the traditional jiaozi, or steamed dumplings.

Other athletes, like the American snowboarder Tessa Maud, have also been impressed by the host nation’s food, and shared videos enjoying gastronomic delights such as gistre sticks, Kung Pao chicken -gonbao jiding in mandarin-, the famous Peking Duck and fried rice.

Japanese skier Anri Kawamura too has expressed her approval of the food in the Olympic village.

The American Julia Marino told her country’s media that since arriving in the Chinese capital she has devoured some two hundred dumplings while Malta’s Jenise Spiteri enjoyed the traditional steamed rolls or baozi, another classic of Chinese cuisine, with the same fervor.

But not everyone is satisfied with the food.

Members of the South Korean team complained that the food was too greasy, while Western journalists have protested what they consider to be exorbitant prices in the canteens, especially for the quality of the dishes offered.

An army of Chinese state media has been quick to react to any criticism at the highly politicized Winter Olympic Games, and the field of gastronomy has been no exception.

Thus, an informant who from inside the closed circuit shared a photo of an apparently unappetizing spaghetti with a solo cherry tomato was accused of using unflattering photographic filters to try to denigrate the games.

And British athletes and media who criticized the food, labeling it the “Hunger Games,” were brutally told that their country’s food is even worse and asked not to complain so much.

According to Yang Chen, the head chef of the restaurant serving athletes in the Olympic village of Yanqing, the menu rotates every eight days and consists of 30 percent Chinese and 70 percent Western dishes, with lamb, beef, duck and dumplings as the most requested preparations, the official Global Times newspaper reported.

The organizers of the Games also had to ensure that the meat being served is “completely safe”, after the German anti-doping agency in January cautioned its athletes about the food in Beijing over the risk of it containing illegal substances.

Beyond likes and dislikes, the attendees at the Games have also witnessed the use of technology for anti-pandemic measures in the dining spaces.

Images from inside depict robotic arms serving food in the canteens, apart from staff inside the bubble doing the same thing in protective suits. EFE


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