Getting Moderately Deep With... A Pig Feet Salesman

By Edoardo Donati Fogliazza, August 27, 2018

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In our monthly series 'Getting Moderately Deep With... ' we ask a food vendor tough questions. Well, sort-of tough.

This month we meet Liu, the laoban of a shop that sells pig feet cooked in soy sauce. 

How are you feeling today?
I’m fine, mostly because the weather is nice and not too hot. 

What is the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning?
I was worried about my car. There are a lot of cars in Beijing, but not enough parking spots. The only way for people who live in the hutongs like me is to park their car close to their house [even though it is illegal in my hutong]. There are no policemen in the evening when I’m back from work, but they often come in the morning after 8. So every day when I wake up, the first thing that goes through my mind is that I have to move my car as early as possible. 

What is your idea of the perfect day?
I think the perfect day has two parts. First, good sales. Second, dinner with a beer and a football match, enjoyed together with friends in the evening. 

Who is your best customer?
I do not think there is a difference between good and bad customers. First of all, I treat everyone equally. Then, if someone does not like what I prepare, I certainly can’t blame them… it’s just a matter of taste. 

But there must be some bad ones…
You know, since we are not a restaurant, we do not experience problems like people refusing to pay or asking for refunds. Customers just buy our specialty and leave. 

When and where were you happiest?
Here in Beijing, when I had just opened the shop, and some customers came back to compliment me on the food. It was so satisfying to know I was doing well. 

Which talent would you most like to have?
Can I say a superpower instead? I would like to be able to teleport. I could do so many more things that way.

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I would like to change where I live. A small house in the hutongs is fine for me now, but if I want to marry and have children, I will have to find more spacious accommodation. 

What is your most treasured possession?
My freedom, knowing that I can wake up every morning and live my life as I want.

What trait do you most value in a person?

What do you most dislike?

What is your motto?
‘Hard work pays off.’ 

What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened to you?
Winning the license plate lottery! After waiting for three years, I was finally able to drive my car in Beijing. 

Which era of Beijing’s history would you most like to have lived in?
I would like to have lived in Beijing during the Qing dynasty. I developed quite a fascination with this era through TV shows and movies, and I would be curious to see for myself the differences in lifestyle between then and now. 

Who is your hero?
Zhou Enlai, because his integrity and dignity always inspired respect and admiration. 

You can try Yu’s pig’s feet at 18 Dongzhimen Nanxiaojie in Beijing

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