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  • Updated: 8:40am
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A Bite of... Britain? China food show parody causes social media storm

Comedy duo's satirical clip 'making fun of China's ignorance about British food' prompts mainlanders' torrent of posts about their ill experience with the cuisine

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 4:44pm

Behold the humble potato - Britain’s sole food group and its economic backbone, according to a parody of the hit Chinese documentary series A Bite of China.

The spoof, made by a British comedy duo, has set tongues wagging for its mockery of Britain’s culinary culture and the exaggerated, almost mystical tone and imagery of the Chinese hit series.

The spoof, dubbed A Taste of Britain, comes after state broadcaster CCTV launched the second season of the hugely popular A Bite of China.

Creators Stuart Wiggin and Wu Tong, the host and the producer of China Radio International’s C4 comedy show, said while they wanted to gently mock the food tastes of the UK, they were also satirising China’s ignorance about British food, and about the dearth of available information about the cuisine.

A Taste of Britain begins: “Just like China, meats and fish are popular in Britain. But in order to make [these] taste extra special, it has to be complemented by other ingredients. Britain only has one such ingredient: the potato.”

The rest of the parody, which has been widely shared on social media, describes the intricate process of preparing a potato – first boiling it and then sprinkling salt on it. As an actor takes a bite of a whole salted potato, the narrator says in stilted monotone how the root vegetable gives Britons energy “all day long”.

“The Chinese tend to think that Britain has no unique dish,” Oxford-educated Wiggin, who has been living in China since 2007, told the South China Morning Post. “We’re making fun of how bad a job Britain is doing in advertising its food.”

C4 airs weekly on the CRI website and is shared on Youku, China’s equivalent of YouTube. The A Taste of Britain clip has been viewed more than 663,000 times as of this morning – the programme’s most-watched episode – since being uploaded on Tuesday.

However, some mainland netizens took the piece at face value, launching a tirade against the UK's supposedly limited diet.

A reporter surnamed Lin in Fujian province told the Post about her “potato nightmare” in 2007, when she was staying in Salisbury, about an hour’s drive from London.

“I had so much [potato] that month that I tried to keep away from all dishes with potatoes in them when I got back home,” Lin said.

For her farewell, she said her host family took her to the best restaurant in town for an expensive dinner. “[We had] saltless steamed pork and beans,” she said. “And I could not wait any longer to fly back home.”

Meanwhile, on Sina Weibo, a photo of fish ‘n’ chips captioned “A Bite of Britain. End.” went viral, drawing 6,000 comments and 30,000 reposts within days. It was posted by a sport commentator on the talkSPORT radio channel.

“In China, it’s hard to do satire,” said Wiggins. “[The show] is as satirical as it can be on Chinese state media. We do manage to say quite a lot.”

Other netizens revisited an old gallery from popular TV and books platform Douban.com titled “We British Can Cook”, which included recipes from award-winning British food blog MsMarmiteLover.com, bombarding them with comments on what they deemed the worst entries.

Commenters singled out the “Stargazy pie”, made with herring, as the worst.

“It’s like burying herrings in a tome of flour,” a female commentator wrote. Others frowned upon the pie, saying, “Herrings also have dignity.”

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pragmatist
alcohol is British food...people have a lot of it and show it around (it is a different matter that they are banned because of it in some places).
baysidedweller
sipsip1238:
FYI - definition of "foodie" - ****en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foodie.
There is no mention of someone who treasures food in the definition.
So you are making up your own definition?
"Anyone can learn to make foie gras" - you can? Cooking food well is part art and science.
participate in competition - you can be selected as one of the participants?
"Please stop displaying your ignorance and utter arrogance"
I have no idea who is the ignorant one when you can make up your own definition of a foodie.
The definition you made up is a wise and frugal (in the good sense) eater, not a foodie. That does not mean the food will taste "good".
As you can see from my original post, I did not list what I did until asiaseen labeled me "ignorant". I might be labeled as arrogant, but that is because I have to show asiaseen that I am not ignorant.
The original post is just a satire and I am surprise that quite a few people got offended because they missed the joke or because I was actually making fun of British food.
I can see why you will label me as arrogant, but I don't think ignorant is the right word to describe me when food is concerned. Not only do I cook food, I also research food history and that can be an eye opener.
Do you know that chili pepper never existed in China before Columbus discovered America? The same is true for India as far as chili pepper is concerned.
I wonder how Szechuan/Hunan food taste like before the introduction of chili pepper into China.
sipsip1238
There really is no point in discussion if you are going to start quoting an open source reference that you or me or anyone else with internet access can amend...
And the "joke" surprised you because whatever intention you had, it wasn't funny, what you did was being rude about a culture that you could certainly dwell deeper to understand, you'll certainly find that there are gems to be had, if someone as dumb as me can learn to appreciate things, you can.
Excellent that you agree with being arrogant, I'm sure that quality wins you many praises.
And about the participation in competition, I think you'd be surprised...
baysidedweller
I can also cite the definition from Oxford Dictionaries which nobody can amend - ****www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/foodie.
I might be arrogant , but I think you are ignorant, but will not admit it and instead accuse me of ignorant :-). If we do not have a reference standard as to what the meaning of a word is, then the discussion is closed and you know who lost the argument.
Admit it, we have to have a generally accepted definition of "words" before we can start an "intelligent discussion". I am surprised that you being "college" educated can be so "ignorant".
As reference below, you do not even know skate is a "fish". Is this not ignorant?
sipsip1238
How is it that you inferred that I didn't know skate is a fish?
And to use wiki as a reference doesn't show your intelligent, and let's agree to disagree before you start quoting urbandictionary.
Have a great weekend, better to spend our lives on better things, people to appreciate and help for me, and people to look down upon for you :)
baysidedweller
I am a hard core "fact check" guy and I have used wiki many many times and so far I don't have much issue with them. I also gave you the definition from Oxford dictionaries.
Read your own post below-you labeled skate as a "British food" and I responded.
I hope you have a great weekend also, maybe do so reflection on when not to call somebody else ignorant when it is the person in the mirror.
bagelbagel
Can someone please name a British Restaurant in HK? Jamie Oliver is starting up in HK, if I am not wrong that is an Italian restaurant.
dienw
The Chippie
sipsip1238
There are plenty of traditional English foods, and the fact that C4 says the UK did a poor job promoting their food is wrong. What about the fact that the Chinese are too ignorant to try new things or actually do some research, the dumbest thing about this is that there were audiences that actually took the show as face value.
It really isn't just Chinese that are ignorant about food, Hong Kong is probably just as bad, with most people saying that food in the UK is often really bad and they didn't have a decent meal for their whole trip.
There are several ways to remedy that:
- Do some serious research before going on your trip, plot and plan your restaurant visits, most of the better ones require reservation, book them. I prioritise food and restaurant visits on all holidays so that you can try different things and the best the city/country has to offer. Don't expect to just stumble on the best restaurants, do what you do in Hong Kong and plan.
- Be brave and actually try something new for once, don't expect to have Chinese food while you're away, for example, UK is incredibly multicultured, some of the best curries or morroccan food can be found there, they often provide an English twist of the food.
- If you don't understand something, ask, enter a restaurant and if there's something you don't understand on the menu, ask, chat and get to know what there is on offer.
English cuisine:
- Skates, Fish and Chips, Steak and kidney pies
- Pudding
- Hagis
- Black Pudding
baysidedweller
"skates" - I did not know skate is "English food". I thought skate is a fish. When did it become an "English food"?
FYI, skate, like shark pee through their skin. That is why you have to clean them well to get rid of the ammonia smell before eating.

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