We met 78-year-old Mr. Liu – who was laden with fresh vegetables – on his way home to prepare lunch for his grandson near Dongsi.
What do you think of western fast food like McDonalds?
I don’t allow my grandchildren to eat McDonalds, or any other fast food. I think it’s all rubbish! I don’t trust anything that can be prepared that quick. It’s got no nutritional value and no flavor! I don’t understand why it’s so popular in China, especially among little kids. I guess they’re adding sugary ingredients and other stuff that kids love. They use other tricks too, like designing stuffed dolls to give to the kids as gifts. But who are they fooling? The cost of those bizarre little ‘gifts’ are covered in the cost of the meal.
I only eat in Chinese restaurants when it’s absolutely necessary, for example during special occasions like Spring Festival or family weddings. Every other day of the year, I cook myself. I don’t trust other people to cook my food. I think it’s important that you’re able to see the process and see what you’re putting inside your mouth! There is a traditional Chinese saying that goes: ‘sickness comes from your mouth,’ which is so true. If you have to go to a restaurant, make sure that it’s a big one. There are so many advertisements in the street offering “RMB10 set lunch!” Dare you believe it and try? The ads usually have a phone number and that’s it – not even an address! Imagine if you got sick, you wouldn’t even be able to find the people responsible!
My grandchildren love foreign fast food. Their generation are growing up with it. At first, their parents took them to try it because it was the trendy thing to do, but gradually the kids became addicted. I always warned my grandchildren when they were young: ‘Be careful what you eat, or you will become little fatties!’
There seems to be lots of news concerning food safety. It’s scary. These days, people put anything into food. They don’t have any of the traditional virtues like honor, kindness and responsibility when it comes to making money. And it’s not only street peddlers taking shortcuts. Take McDonalds for example. When it first came to China, everybody took it as an industry model, people trusted it so much. But in the recent years, we’ve witnessed the failing of the fairy tale. A foreign name is not a guarantee of good quality.
As told to Karoline Kan