Captain Ahab had Moby Dick. Arthur Jones has doubansu.
When Englishman Jones first came to China in 1996, doubansu was (and we'll have to take his word on this) a home-style dish commonly found in Shanghai's neighborhood restaurants. And rather than it biting off his leg, he dug into it heartily.
Twenty-five years on, and the old restaurants have vanished under rapid urban development, and with them, his favorite food. Few young people today have even heard of it.
So, the hunt was on – and documentary short The Dish That Disappeared is the result.
“I really wanted to explore some of my memories of my earliest days in Shanghai, back in the late 1990s,” explains Jones. “And the story of doubansu was something that always stuck out to me; it was a very strange mystery – that there could be a dish that would have disappeared that was such a prominent part of my early days in Shanghai.
“I felt like by exploring that, I could touch on my memories of that time, and some of the ways that memories get confused and things get forgotten and then remembered for strange, serendipitous reasons.”
So is doubansu doomed to disappear forever? Or can one man's love of this ugly-delicious dish introduce it to a whole new generation?
Without further ado, here is your answer (VPN off – to watch on Vimeo, click here):
Directed by Arthur Jones; Produced by LostPensivos Films
The Six: Titanic Chinese Survivors' Untold Story
If you recognize the name Arthur Jones, it might be because he is the director of the recent documentary release The Six – a film executive producer and contributor James Cameron describes as the “Titanic’s last, great untold story.”
The film sees Jones, lead researcher Steven Schwankert and their international team go in search of the infamous ship’s lost Chinese passengers. They uncover an extraordinary tale of survival and dignity in the face of racism and anti-immigrant policy that reverberates today.
Watch The Six trailer (VPN off):
After a cinematic release earlier in the year, you can now watch The Six online. Simply scan the QR:
[Cover image courtesy of LP Films]