Chinese scholar Lin Yutang once defined “men's happiness” as:
Marrying a Japanese wife, having a French lover, hiring a Chinese cook, employing a British butler.
Needless to say, Chinese cuisine is one of aspects of Chinese culture that people are most proud of. It is also an important part of daily life. Archaeologist and scholar K.C. Chang observed that “Chinese people are especially preoccupied with food” and that “food is at the center of, or at least it accompanies or symbolizes, many social interactions.”
However, the beauty and mystery of Chinese food was never well explained or greatly appreciated on an artistic level even within China until the premiere of a seven-part documentary series on China’s food culture called “A Bite of China” (literally translated as “China on the Tip of the Tongue”) produced by state broadcaster China Central TV in May 2012. The series gives a visual introduction to China's rich culinary tradition and wide regional variety by showing basic local ingredients, cooking methods and local food specialties and customs. Chinese cuisine goes back to basics in the series: old women looking for matsutake mushrooms on pathless mountainsides, a fisherman catching barracuda for supper, a group of farmers collecting lotus roots from a muddy river in the winter.
Thirty of the country's most respected filmmakers worked for more than a year filming the seven 50-minute episodes. They shot throughout the country, from frozen lakes to bamboo forests.
The documentary became an instant hit and a trending topic on Chinese social media. Many think it's the best documentary ever produced in China due to its beautiful visual effects and the powerful nostalgia it invokes. It became so popular that the second season was launched in January 2013 and is scheduled for release in 2014. It's likely to be China’s most anticipated sequel of 2014. There are plans to screen “A Bite of China” in 20 countries including Germany and the United States, but at the moment the show is only available on YouTube.
After watching the first season, many netizens commented on leading social network website douban, saying the documentary's significance is more than just the food itself: It's a tour of beautiful places in China and a story of Chinese people:
As a foodie, it's such a blessing to be born in China, a place of abundant resources.
A great documentary. This is not just about food, but also stories of people.
老尘 : 原来在华夏内地还有这么多充满文化意味的地方没有去
I didn't know there are so many cultural places I have never been to in China.
Some also think the documentary serves as great soft power:
Patriotism should be taught this way
However, some were sad that this way of life is slowly evaporating in modern China due to industrialization and environmental pollution:
Cuisine is a disappearing tradition, [when I think about this] my heart feels a little heavy.