I’m going to admit, right at the start of this post that the title of this post now seems ridiculous to me.
Regular conversation with my friend in Beijing provides me with a fascinating insight into the people of China and perhaps more intriguingly, into my own pre-conceptions about the Chinese people. One of those pre-conceptions that I never knew I held is the belief that they don’t eat potatoes in China.
Potatoes are part of our staple diet in the UK and probably in the western world. Whether they’re fried as chips or fries, roasted as part of our Sunday dinner or served with breakfast as hash-browns, the rotund root vegetable is as much a part of our lives as chocolate and two-party politics.
I never realised, until last night when the conversation found its way to potatoes, that I had always believed that nobody ate them in China. Ironically, this discussion wasn’t initially about food, it started with a comment that some people actually look like them.
When I asked my friend if she was familiar with them she responded with amused surprise before proceeding to list all the ways she loved to eat them that reminded me a little of Bubba in Forrest Gump as he talked about shrimp.
So yes, they eat potatoes in China and I felt a bit silly.
It’s probably not my fault. My only exposure to Chinese food is what is offered at the restaurants and take-aways (all of which claim to offer authentic Chinese cuisine). I’d always assumed that they served chips to appeal to the those that were too xenophobic to eat rice or noodles with their Kung-po Chicken.
In hindsight, it’s a bit narrow minded to believe that a nation of 1.4 billion people limit their diet to a menu of just over a hundred items, especially when China is almost as large as the entirety of Europe.