What will Olympic guests eat in Beijing in 2008?
Auntie Su dumplings or beef noodles for breakfast, and Peking duck, abalone or Xinjiang roast lamb for dinner?
These are just several ideas being floated by chefs from across the country as Beijing counts down to the Olympic Games.
The Chinese Cuisine Association (CCA) is helping Games organizers work out menus for the tens of thousands of athletes and officials who will visit Beijing in 2008.
"We hope our food ideas for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will meet the international standard and at the same time showcase China's unique cuisine," said Xu Yunfei, director of the CCA's Development Department.
More than 60 catering firms displayed around 180 dishes at the CCA's recent "Exhibition of the recommended menu for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games" in Xi'an. The dishes included a variety of Chinese food ranging from beef noodles to abalone and shark fin.
"The aim of the exhibition is to show the richness of Chinese food, and we have included both traditional dishes and also new ones," said Xu.
According to CCA officials, those items on display were selected from more than 1,800 dishes offered by catering companies from all over the country.
"Sending out invitations for the exhibition, we got feedback from thousands of our associated companies," said Xu. "We selected the dishes after careful examination of several aspects such as their technical requirement, cooking method and cultural content."
The country's food industry association is eager to contribute to the upcoming Olympic Games.
At the end of last year the association wrote to BOCOG to express its willingness to contribute to the Games catering. BOCOG invited the association to participate in the process.
"In their reply, BOCOG agreed to cooperate with us in catering services. They asked us to recommend menu items, predict the supplies needed to cater for the event and recommend experts to appraise the menu," Xu said.
According to Xu, the CCA will propose a menu to BOCOG soon, but the final choice will be up to BOCOG and the International Olympic Committee.
"According to the IOC requirement, Western food will comprise 70 percent of the final menu for the Games with the remaining 30 percent to be Chinese food," Xu said. "The menu for a week in the Olympic village will be different every day. In the international zone of the village there will be an exhibition center to showcase Chinese food to let people know more about China's cuisine culture."
Although China is famous for its diverse culture around food, Xu pointed out that it lacks standard cooking procedures.
"Most of the Chinese dishes lack scientific and standard cooking processes, which makes it hard to ensure the quality of the food," said Xu. "That may be one of the obstacles to the dishes being approved by the IOC."
BOCOG is currently selecting the catering suppliers for the Games.
"We began selecting catering service suppliers in April and the final menu will be decided in line with which suppliers we select," said Xiang Ping, vice-director of BOCOG's Games Services Department.
(China Daily November 10, 2006)