Friday, September 14, 2007

living in a land with no fridges

For a while now, I have been providing flashbacks to my visit to China in 1999, but I also visited in 1992. Back then China was just emerging from the years of communist rule and the economy was starting to develop into a market economy. But it still had a long way to go.

In Australia we always take note of the live fish in the windows of Chinese restaurants, and some snobby Australians turn their noses up at this tradition. They think it is distasteful. But I found in China very quickly that in fact it is a good sensible way of knowing that you are not going to die of food poisoning. In a country where there is no refrigeration and food is food fresh, rather than pickled or salted, it is vital to know that your food is fresh. There can be no fresher food than that has been recently slaughtered. So any enterprising restaurant owner will go a long way to prove that their food is fresh.

For seafood proving that the food is fresh means showing that it is still alive and looking healthy. For meat, it meant having the meat proudly on display on a counter and letting the patron see the food taken away to be cooked.

Now that there are fridges and more importantly the electricity to run them, this presentation method is much less common.

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