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Chongqing celebrates hotpot culture at Milan Expo

By De Giuli, Song Jian (Xinhua)    08:48, July 23, 2015

MILAN, Italy, July 22 -- Chongqing Day, celebrated at the world exposition in Milan earlier this week, was an occasion for many Italian authorities and visitors to get acquainted with a traditional delicacy of the city - hotpot.

"I was in Chongqing, where I tasted hotpot. What I most enjoyed was the experience of eating something very spicy in a particularly hot area of China," Nicola Rosset, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Valle d'Aosta, a region in northern Italy, told Xinhua.

"This seemed to me a contradiction in the beginning, but then I found out that this habit is good for health. Hotpot was a pleasant discovery indeed," he added.

A miniature-version of the "world's largest hotpot" was on display at the Expo's China Pavilion introducing the Chongqing hotpot culture to visitors.

The Guinness world record for the world's largest hotpot weighs 13 tons and has a diameter of 10 meters. However, due to technical difficulties such as transportation, what was on display at the Expo was a miniature version made after scaling down in the proportion of 5:1.

"I love spicy food, so I am very curious to try hotpot," said Emanuel Battocchio, sales manager of a furniture company in Veneto, a region in northern Italy.

"I have been to China seven times and I perfectly know what hotpot is," a regional official from Umbria in central Italy, Valentino Valentini, pointed out.

Traveling to Chongqing, Valentini noted, has become easier thanks to the Rome-Chongqing direct flight inaugurated last April by Hainan Airlines, China's first private carrier and the country's fourth largest.

Ernesto Caccavale, marketing and communication manager at Naples-based Gourmet Pizza Association, told Xinhua he was looking forward to tasting hotpot in Chongqing next week.

"It will be my first occasion of cultural exchange with Chongqing after today," he told Xinhua referring to the signing of an agreement between his association, which counts around 30 members across Campania, a region in southern Italy whose capital city is Naples.

"Based on the agreement, we will start to exchange information about the respective food cultures. We also plan to open some Italian pizzerias in the Chongqing area and help Chinese restaurateurs to open hotpot restaurants in Italy," Caccavale explained.

Both the associations, he said, attach great importance to the high quality of respective delicacies, which was a perfect starting point for the agreement.

Many Western people have a weakness for spicy food, noted Li Dejian, chairman of the Chongqing Hotpot Association. In his view, the market potential of hotpot in the Western world is huge, as proven by the presence of hotpot restaurants in many places worldwide including Toronto, New York and Vancouver.

Li told Xinhua he has also recently tasted the Chongqing hotpot in a restaurant in France, where he noted non-Chinese clients exceeded a third of total. The agreement just signed with the Gourmet Pizza Association, he added, will help spread the Chongqing hotpot culture also in Italy.

Someone even tried to imagine the right combination between Chongqing hotpot and Italian wine. "It could be a very interesting marriage," Sergio Marini, a sommelier and member of the Italian Sommelier Association, said.

Chongqing is one of the places where hotpot originated, and has been conferred the title of "China Hotpot City" in 2007.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Zhang Qian,Yao Chun)

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