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Cooking spices up Chinese people's home life amid epidemic

(Xinhua)    14:45, March 04, 2020

NANJING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- After being trapped at home for over one month due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, Zhang Xiaoyan, a 30-year-old from Nanjing, capital of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, found her cooking skills improved by leaps and bounds.

"I used to eat in the office and seldom cooked at home on weekdays. Even on weekends, I would prefer takeout food," Zhang said. "But during these days at home, I have spent much time studying cooking."

With a goal of learning at least one new dish every day, she downloaded three recipe sharing apps and followed several chefs on video-sharing app Douyin, also known as TikTok.

Zhang's cooking journey began with soup then moved forward with fried dishes and desserts. Now she is focusing on improving her baking skills.

Just like Zhang, many Chinese people, who are staying indoors to avoid infection, are rolling up their sleeves and starting a new career in the kitchen. When time needs to be killed, cooking is not only for eating but also for fun.

"Young Chinese might have never devoted so much time to cooking," a netizen joked.

A nationwide cook-off is raging on various social media. For Zhang and her friends, it has become a pleasure to watch each other's food videos posted on their WeChat Moments at mealtimes.

"It's a special way to say hello to each other as a face-to-face dinner is not possible now. It helps ease people's anxiety amid the epidemic," she said.

Burnt meat, broken dumplings, collapsed cakes -- Chinese netizens also share their failed kitchen laboratory results on social media and tease each other about it.

"The 'Beat Generation Food' is the best footnote to my home life," a netizen said poking fun at himself.

When Zhang's friends post photos of their "cooking accidents," it always makes her laugh.

Cooking, fitness and study ranked among the top three pastimes during the virus outbreak, according to Xiaohongshu, an Instagram-like Chinese fashion and lifestyle sharing platform. Rice-cooker-made cakes, milk tea and cold noodles are the most popular recipes.

As much fewer people go shopping at crowded brick-and-mortar stores, online fresh food retailers are lending a hand on their way to becoming home chefs.

According to a report released by the online food delivery platform Meituan Dianping, the sales of ingredients including vegetables, meat and seafood surged 200 percent month on month, and searches for baking materials rose 100 times recently, with sales of yeast up nearly 40 times.

Zhang and her neighbors established a WeChat group to group-buy ingredients from local fresh food retailers with discounts. The ingredients could be delivered to the gate the same day.

"Although kept indoors most of the time due to the virus outbreak, I hope to spend every day tastefully," said Zhang. She believes that more difficulties Chinese people experience during the epidemic, the more they will learn to appreciate the good moments in life and healthy lifestyles.

"When the outbreak ends, I will persist in my kitchen career to keep a healthy diet," she said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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