There’s nothing like eating food while watching food. Tucking into a dish before you, the sight of the cooking process on the screen adds an interesting layer to your experience of smells and tastes.
The sound of ingredients being cut up and diced, the sizzle of the garlic and onions, the spectacle of the different food groups being mixed to form an utter delight all amalgamate to a mouthwatering experience. One show, in particular, captures this essence with ease: Flavorful Origins.
Available on Netflix, this cooking show centers on the expansive, elaborate, and interesting aspects of Chinese cuisine. Being half-Chinese myself, there’s something that is just aesthetically pleasing about seeing an elderly Asian chef going absolutely ham on a wok, manipulating the huge pan that’s half his size with ease.
Flavorful Origins travels across China, from locations like Chaoshan to Guiyang.
Right off the bat, the show sets itself apart from other documentaries on cuisines. Other food shows will have a central narrator that offers explanations for what is happening, and their own individual wit to better the content. These narrators can have pre-established talents like car reviews, where a plucky individual sits inside a car and reviews fast food.
Splicing wit and review together, these critics provide ample entertainment for foodies alike — although watching people eat food simply because it’s fun is a fetish that still puzzles me immeasurably.
In this case, the narration is simply a voice-over, you never see his face, but you don’t need to. Flavorful Origins engages your eyes with a dive into Chinese culture. Each dish has its own origin and those who are making it have their own unique approach to making the dish. The main focus of each episode centers on an ingredient, ranging from fish oil to radishes and bean paste.
There is no overtly comedic or serious tone overlaying each episode. Rather, you are placing yourself in an entirely different lifestyle. We see the process and labour that goes into making each dish.
While I have a great love for cooked Chinese food, I’ve never liked Chinese snacks, especially those that come in packages. Something about them just disagrees with my taste buds, mouth, esophagus, entire digestive system — even my soul. While Chinese confectionery treats aren’t my thing, freshly cooked dishes are something else entirely.
When it comes to social dining, a Chinese banquet is something to behold. Millions of people casually shoving past you to get a bite to eat is enough to intimidate the boldest of foodies.
Think of it as something of a real-life battle royale, except the weapons given to you are chopsticks, the flying bus you arrive in is your aunt’s beat-up Honda Civic with its right door panel completely missing, and the blue shield potion is being in the seat nearest to the bathroom, so you don’t wind up having to have to scooch by 12 sets of relatives.
In short, Chinese cuisine is a unique experience that everyone should have. Will you have fun? Probably. Will you lose 80 per cent of your HP? Yes. Is it all worth it in the end? Definitely.