As the Beijing Summer Olympics get closer, the media coverage of life in the country is in full effect.  It provides us great recollection of how foreign the culture is in every sense of the word.  We experienced some very memorable and strange things as we traveled through, which we chronicled right here (just click on the China category).

One of the main sources for adventure was eating in China.  From hot pot to hello banana to tea houses to what-the-heck-is-that-and-is-it-cooked.  Well, this article from Trend Hunter illustrates the (sad) trend and often overlooked elements of an Olympics effect on the host country: the watering down and smoothing over of culture shock.  In this case the food.

In the interest of feeding the incoming hordes, the organizing committee for the Beijing Olympics have had to deal with the translation of restaurant menus into English. The process was contentious, requiring many rounds of discussions in order to come up with an official translation list for restaurants in book form. Nationalistic ire has already erupted over the bland linguistic makeovers. One internet commenter said “I don’t like this new naming method, it’s abandoning Chinese tradition. There are many stories in the names of these dishes.” Indeed.

If they were going to spend some effort here, I’d rather see them dial up the quality of things like, you know, running water – which even the citizens of the country can’t drink without boiling.  Yeah tea!

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