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Germany Spirit and Chinese Gastronomy
Foreigners in China
“Did you eat?” This was the most common greeting in China in 1996. In the beginning of 1990s, I often heard people extending greetings to their neighbors in this way, whenever in afternoon or in evening.

“Yes, I did.” Answers were always brief and stereotyped. These answers were all beyond all questions—was there anybody who didn’t have his or her meal at 1 o’clock I in the afternoon or 7 o’clock in the evening?

I noticed that, in China, the atmosphere of dining together was so warm that all the unfamiliarity and illness at ease came to naught in the delicious food and alcohol. In China, eating could be held as democracy, as the original intention of all acts, as the pure socialism, the most beautiful enjoyment. On the other hand, all the happy and pleasant feelings vanished in to thin air as soon as the eating war came to its end. Everybody returned to themselves and take care of their own business.

The edification I have received 25 years in Germany was: the elders told me that we should work, should regard time as a productive factor and we must save time. At that time, my friends and I have produced a lot of things. Though these products were no more than chats and meaningless debates, at least we were productive. Whenever I sipped half litter beer or a small cup of Melitta Coffee, all sorts of ideas sprouted out in my mind, such as criticisms on the so-called origin of American-European common culture, of the ideal structure of Sino- European cooperation and communication items. I researched all along on the complicated composition of rebuilding the world by Samuel Huntington. I compelled myself to think, discuss and support myself when I was challenged.

But after I’ve been drunk several times in China, I found myself losing interest in these thinking matters. And to be honest, nobody will discuss seriously with me now. I used to spend a long time in Heidburg with my friend Sigma discussing Deng Xiaoping’s three times retreats and three times rises in politics. Sigma knew a lot anf prepared very well for our discussion. All the other matters, including eating of course, would lay aside temporarily.

In China, I will not let those meaningless discussions ruin my appetite. But I always feel discontented during my years stay in China, a loss in the well-off living condition. Every year I will return Germany twice or three times, paying visit to my friends all over the country. We get together, talk about Huntington and other people, mould our spirit and feel satisfied.

Germans pay more attention on the mental wealth, while the Chinese culture, on the wealth of food and drink.








(From: World Vision(2007, 01)


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