A week’s worth of food for the average Chinese family.
I’ve found that since moving to China, one of the things I miss the most about home (the United States, for me) is the food. My best friend is Bulgarian, and she longs for dishes with grape leaves, goat cheese, fresh salads and certain Bulgarian spices. My American male friends crave, among other things, good Mexican food, steaks, cold cuts for making sandwiches, food from Wendy’s and Taco Bell, while my friend from India misses authentic sambar, puri and chaat. Most foreigners in Beijing can find some kind of semblance to their favorite foods from home, but somehow, it just doesn’t taste the same.
It’s interesting to observe the eating habits of a different in culture. Most of us in Beijing are well-versed in the tastes and habits of hot pot, eating and making jiaozi, our favorite kinds of tea, the ubiquitous yoghurt, the late night chuan’r and to not be surprised to be served the entire chicken or fish (eyes, skin or beak).
On a different note, I came across an interesting excerpt from the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats about the differences in eating habits among families in several different regions of the world. The colorful photographs displayed families standing with the different types of food they eat each week and how much money was spent each week on food.
I’d be interested to hear your reactions. According to this book, the average family in America spends more money per week on groceries, $341.98, than any other of the regions featured, including China, Japan, Mexico and Italy. The average expenditure per week per family in China was $155.06. Do these seem accurate to you?
Looking closely at the photographs, some food stereotypes appear to be true–I can see the pizza and chips in the American family’s picture, an abundant amount of bread in the Italian family’s monthly intake, and rice in the Chinese family’s photograph. But this book is not without its surprises—the average weekly food expenditure by a Chad family is $1.23. Seeing the drastic differences among regions really makes you think about the politics of food in this study of global nutrition.