China’s most anticipated sequel of 2014, A Bite of China season 2, will air its first episode this Friday April 18th at 9:00 p.m. on CCTV 9.
Food is a particularly personal thing, in that no dish suits all tastes, says Chen Xiaoqing, general director of the documentary series. In the coming season, the production team will demonstrate a greater "ambition" that, through food, depicts the joys and sorrows of ordinary Chinese in changing times.
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.
The documentary series, exploring stories of nature, culture, and history through food, consists of seven episodes – Seasons (as in summer as opposed to salt), Footsteps, Heart’s message, Daily domestics, Realm of Secrets, Encounters, and Three Meals.
Even within China, the beauty and mystery of Chinese food had never been properly explained or thoroughly appreciated on an artistic level until the premiere in May 2012 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.
The series gave 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.
The documentary became an instant hit and a trending topic on Chinese social media. With its beautiful visual effects, and the powerful nostalgia it invoked, many think it the best documentary ever produced in China.
A touch of Chinese society
“In addition to an introduction to China's delicious food, through these dishes, you can gain an additional insight into some of the things we tend to overlook,” says Chen Xiaoqing. “Living in this day and age, everyone is experiencing joy and pain at the same time. But Chinese people can turn sufferings into blessing. We can see people’s love of life through their approach to food.”
More personalities in the narrative
Involving more than 300 different dishes, and more than 150 personalities, the new season goes beyond a simple introduction to food and becomes more of an investigation of Chinese people and society. According to Chen Xiaoqing, he wishes to explore the relationship between the people of China and their food through the program.
Coexistence of man and nature
Finding their subjects can be the most onerous part of the job, and there are not always shortcuts available. Chen Xiaoqing said that it took them six months to film a beekeeper couple, which required a journey of more than 2,000 kilometers.