Getting Moderately Deep With... ​A Stinky Tofu Seller

By Edoardo Donati Fogliazza, April 24, 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 smelly tofu vendor Zhang Ying at her shop in Gulou. 

What’s the first thing you thought when you woke up this morning?
I want to sleep some more! There’s nothing I wanted to do more today. Actually, sleeping is what I want to do the most, every day. 

How are you feeling today?
I feel fine. My morale is just below average. In the past few days the weather in Beijing hasn’t been that good, and customers look at the weather before going out to enjoy themselves. 

What is your idea of the perfect day?
My perfect day is one when I sell enough without having to work too hard for it. 

Who is your best customer?
The best customers are the loyal ones, the ones that come back. 

Who are your worst customers?
There are no bad customers. If I don’t like someone, I simply don’t sell them anything! 

Which living person do you most admire?
The person I admire most is myself! There’s no one else I like, no stars or celebrities, just myself.

When and where were you happiest?
Just after I rented this shop, and everyone was saying that the tofu was really good. I felt really happy. I don’t have any great goals or big dreams to fulfill. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
[I’m proud] when people eat what I prepare, like it and compliment me. Just the fact that people know about my shop is a little achievement in its own right. All my friends know about the shop, and I don’t feel the need to expand either. 

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I would like to be a man. You can work more as a man. 

What is your most treasured possession?
My character. 

What trait do you most value in a person?
Kind-heartedness and honesty. 

What is it that you most dislike?
People who don’t take me seriously. 

What is your motto?
Take one step at a time. 

What always makes you laugh?
I laugh when I’m happy, what else? And I’m always happy. 

What’s the most surprising thing that has happened to you?
Being able to rent this place. It is extremely hard to get a place here in the city center. 

Which era of Beijing’s history would you most like to have lived in?
Now. I don’t know much about history.

Who is your hero?
Myself! Is that too narcissistic?


Zhang Ying’s tofu is at her shop, Beier Haochi, 244 Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng

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