Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Chinese loathe 'smelly' cheese

Now, here's a product that will take some time to break into the Chinese market, if it ever does. Cheese, especially the more 'odorous' varieties, have the doubtful honour of heading the list of most hated Western foods, according to a survey on the social network Weibo (called the Chinese Twitter), among 16,000 users. "It is very disagreeable. Once you've smelled it you can't forget it. It is nauseous," said Wang Nao, 34. The survey puts 'smelly' cheese, with a 42% of rejection votes, ahead of foods such as 'medium rare' red meat "with blood still around" (31%), French escargots (that's snails, misses) (20%) and even turkey (5%). But maybe these results are not just by chance:>>>
The survey began shortly after CNN came up with a survey titled: Which is the world's worst food? The result of that survey was -you guessed it- the Chinese 'pidan' or 'thousand-year egg' and sometimes 'leather eggs.'

These delicacies -that's what they are in Cina, anyway- are hard, with a greeny yolk and semi-transparent, brown white (the white of the egg is brown, you figure it out) that are left for months under clay, salt and lime. The CNN poll had it as the most 'disgusting' dish of all, to the great chagrin of the Chinese.

Back to cheese. Which do the Chimnese hate most?

At an interantional food establishment in Beijing, the manager says that the only cheese she had ever been unable to sell was the French Vieux-Bologne, not surprisingly named as the 'smelliest' cheese by London's Cranford University only last year. "We have cheese from all over the world," says Hu, "and while most of our clients are foreigners, there is an increasing number of our countrymen coming in to try them." The shop sells plenty of  Camembert, Roquefort, Cabrales (Spanish goat's cheese) and Cheddar, though the latter is not considered 'smelly'.

Her statement is backed by the cheese import figures for the Asian giant. The increase in purchases between 2000 and 2010 is 811 percent, which is close to 18,000 tons per year. Still, there is a long way to go for the 'most disgusting' Western food. The annual cheese consumption of one person in Europe or the US is 15 kilos per year, whereas in Chine, that figure is a mere 10 grammes.

Of course, there are foods that might be considered a substitute for cheese, at least in terms of texture. MaoMao's Tweet (or is that a Weib?): "I would never eat cheese while tofu exists."

The battle of the cheeses contnues. In typical fashion, cheesemakers in Britain, Ireland, Spain, France, Spain and any other cheese producing countries will say theirs is the best, no matter what the Chinese say.

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