Foreign athletes binge eating at the Beijing Winter Olympics

For some foreign athletes, it might be a “sweet melancholy” to compete in the Beijing Winter Games as they struggle to strike the right balance between keeping fit and enjoying local delicacies.

First-time Olympian American snowboarder Tessa Maud treated herself to another big meal in the Athletes’ Village cafeteria on February 12 before leaving Beijing to head home.

The 18-year-old shared her menu on TikTok – fried rice, Kung Pao chicken, cauliflower, scallion pancakes and sweets and Peking roast duck, which tasted “insane” as she described it.

Maud became an internet sensation in China after sharing a vlog in which she broke down in tears when a cheerful Chinese volunteer said “Welcome to China” to her during the opening ceremony. This heartfelt moment also touched millions of internet users around the world.

But other surprises awaited him.

Chinese food culture in Beijing turned out to be a totally new and enjoyable dining experience for Maud. That eating was a difficult daily choice for her because “everything is so good”.

She documented details of her life in Beijing with her cafeteria diaries which were praised by many viewers.

“I tried sweet and sour pork, pork dumplings, spicy tofu and Dandan noodles. Tell me more things to try,” she asked on Tiktok, which was immediately picked up by followers who made a list of popular Chinese dishes under his account.

Julia Marino, Maud’s compatriot, also surprised the world after she confessed to gobbling down around 200 pellets during the Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 6.

Marino, who won the silver medal in the women’s snowboard slopestyle final, didn’t hesitate for a second to talk about her favorite dish: dumplings.

“I’ve probably eaten about 200 dumplings since I’ve been here. So many dumplings. Just got back from the mountain – dumplings. That’s the only thing I feel like I’m ever good at,” a- she told NBC Chicago.

Likewise, snowboarder Jenise Spiteri, the only Olympian representing the European country of Malta, is another big fan of Chinese food.

She became China’s “red bean bun girl” after the scene was broadcast live around the world that she pulled a crushed and flattened bun out of the pocket of her competition suit and had a big bite out of a Huge smile on his face during breaks from his halfpipe qualifying race.

“I started eating it on the first day. And then for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Spiteri said in an interview with Chinese media.

However, surprisingly, small sesame balls turned out to be her favorite Chinese snack there. “You know the little sesame balls…fried, rolled up with sesame seeds, fluffy with kidney beans inside,” she said. “I want to eat a hundred.”

During the last meal in the Olympic Village, Spiteri did not forget his rolls. “Goodbye to the amazing workers who served our food every day,” in a photo taken with canteen workers, she smiled, holding a red bean bun.

Chinese Flavor, Global Taste

Besides Chinese cuisine, which accounts for a third of the menu, athletes are offered a total of 678 dishes catering to various tastes and needs in the three competition areas of Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, according to the village planning committee. organization and operations department.

The menu, developed over nearly four years, is designed to meet the different dietary needs and requirements of athletes while taking into account religious diversity, said Song Xueying, director of operations of the Yanqing Winter Olympic Village.

Authentic Chinese cuisine ranges from Peking roast duck, Kung Pao chicken, Ma Po tofu, dumplings to regional specialties such as Sichuan Dandan spicy noodles, hotchpotch and Char Siu Cantonese cuisine, or Chinese barbecue pork.

Jutta Leerdam, a 23-year-old Dutch speed skater, posted her favorite spicy mix on social media. “It’s the famous Chinese spicy hotchpotch, which is healthier than burger and fries,” praised Leerdam, with many amazed followers “it looks so delicious!”

Besides traditional Asian cuisines such as sushi, udon and stir-fried kimchi, Western pizzas and pastas are also available to satisfy diverse tastes, according to the organizing committee.

Additionally, a range of vegetarian and halal meals are served in the canteen, with kosher service available to meet the specific dietary needs of athletes from different cultures.

Catering services at the Beijing Games were widely appreciated by members of the Olympic family, including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

“If I had stayed in the village for three days, I would have gained an extra 10 pounds,” he said during his visit to the Yanqing Olympic Village on Feb. 11.

When food meets high tech

The Main Media Center (MMC) high-tech oriented dining environment also became a hit as the smart canteen’s robotic bartender, Mr. Mix became the “rock star” with his “Tech Show” going viral on social networks. media.

The canteen, with an area of ​​3,700 square meters, is capable of accommodating nearly 1,000 people for a meal with more than 100 dishes.

“We have more than 10 smart restaurant equipment, including automatic fried wok, sky track, hamburger machine as well as bartender,” said Zhong Zhanpeng, project supervisor of MMC Smart Restaurant in an interview with Xinhua.

Chef robots, which automatically control the cooking program, were introduced at the Beijing Games. “With high efficiency, they are almost as good as real human chefs in terms of output because we received good feedback from reporters,” Zhong said.

The dishes are delivered to the table of those who order the food exactly by a computer-controlled track called sky track.

“I really like it. Not only is it very efficient, but it’s also fun. It’s nice to see the robot drop food off for you and deliver it,” said a British journalist.

Naomi C. Amerson