Amid growing public fears over food safety on the mainland, following a series of recent scandals, university students in Guangzhou are increasingly choosing to cook themselves.
'I am really sick of the same old, processed food in the university cafeteria,' Xu Yun, a second-year undergraduate in Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. 'And I don't want to be poisoned by the terrible oil that many snackhouses use, so I cook for myself.'
Another student, Wang Bo, of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, said: 'The cafeteria food sometimes looks as if it was cooked several hours before. The food and menus are the same every day. The quality of the food never improves, yet the prices go up. So I started cooking in my dorm last semester.'
Avoiding huge numbers of diners in cafeterias is another reason students are cooking for themselves. 'After queuing for ages for food, you still have to wait for a seat. I can't stand it.' Xu said.
Living in a dormitory means giving up some home comforts, yet cooking for themselves makes life a bit more homely.
Qin Cai, a student from Xinjiang, has her own electric induction cooker, a steamer, rice cooker and frying pan. 'I am a Moslem and we are not supposed to eat anything related to pork or lard,' she said. 'My university cafeteria cannot meet my needs. So now I cook every meal myself.'
Xu said limited space and budgets meant most students cooked with simple cooking appliances, such as electric rice cookers, pots and pans. They can buy cheap meat and vegetables at supermarkets.
On December 22, the Winter solstice, Wang invited fellow students to a hotpot dinner in his dormitory. 'Cooking and eating together makes us closer,' Wang said. 'It's now an essential part in university life.'