China Focus: Foreigners learn to cook Chinese cuisine in hutong

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-19 19:03:02|Editor: pengying
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BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- The third season of the documentary "A Bite of China," which depicts Chinese culture via food, will air every night starting from Monday.

For some foreigners who love Chinese food, however, watching a documentary or tasting Chinese food is not enough, they also want to learn to cook Chinese cuisine.

"Dumplings are my favorite Chinese food, and I'm so happy that I learnt the secret to making dumplings ahead of my first Spring Festival in China," said Deandri Botha, who came to Beijing from South Africa 10 months ago.

She joined a dumpling-making party last week at The Hutong, a cultural hub for foreigners and locals alike to experience Chinese culture in a courtyard at one of Beijing's hutongs, or traditional alleys.

Holding the "Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Party" is an annual tradition for The Hutong and this year it was attended by over 50 foreigners.

"This is my second time here, and my husband and our two sons came along to enjoy holiday fun," said Lawrence Coradini from France who works as a teacher at an international school in Beijing.

The Hutong, founded by two Australians in 2007, offers workshops on tea appreciation, traditional Chinese medicine, and cuisines from across China.

Mark Thirlwall discovered the courtyard while working as a tour guide 11 years ago, and decided to rent it with his friend Stacey Shine to organize educational and cultural events.

"Shine and Thirlwall knew well that many of those who visit China are interested in taking back more than just pictures of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall," said Chen Yuxian, manager of The Hutong.

The Hutong provides various cooking classes from hand-pulled noodles and steamed buns to homemade tofu on a daily basis.

It has over 30 staff, half of whom are from outside China, said Chen.

"I decided to work at The Hutong after I studied Yunnan cuisine here five years ago," said Marissa Kennedy, who worked with the Peking University Press when she first came to China from the United States in 2007.

According to the 2016-2017 China National Image Global Survey released last month, foreigners believe Chinese cuisine is the factor that best represents Chinese culture.

The survey interviewed people from 22 countries, with 500 respondents from each country.

Among the 11,000 people surveyed, 52 percent picked Chinese cuisine as representative of Chinese culture, with almost 80 percent saying they had tried it, 72 percent of whom spoke highly of it.

"I planned to stay in China for one year, but this year marks my fifth year in China," said Mona Potter from Ireland.

She came to the event with her husband, two-month-old daughter, and her parents-in-law.

"My parents-in-law flew from America for the baby, and I took them to this party to feel the charm of Chinese food," Potter said, "I met my husband in Beijing and became a mother here, and nothing could be possible if I had not been attracted by Chinese culture."