Science - November 11, 2004

Food: A new series on food and culture

Each week our reporter takes to the streets together with the Wb photographer in search of international students busy with one of the essentials of life: food.

Jingjing Zhao, Yongying Cao and Shanshan Liu, three friends from China who have been studying here since August 2003, had just done their shopping at the C1000 supermarket: ‘We bought things for a party on Sunday. We’re going to have lunch, just the three of us,’ explained Shanshan. ‘We do that once a month. Sometimes we drink beer with the meal, sometimes coke.’ Her large shopping bag contained sliced cold meat, fish, mushrooms, a melon, thin Chinese noodles, an iceberg lettuce, a long French bread and Paturain cheese. ‘The bread and Paturain are for my own lunch.’ In Yongying’s rucksack were liver sausage, three packs of bacon and a large milk carton. ‘I drink milk at breakfast.’ They had also bought some fresh spinach, a cauliflower and a pudding for desert. Jingjing was carrying two bags of pasta spirals in her hand. ‘That’s for tomorrow with my corridor. We’ll eat it with minced meat and spinach from the freezer.’ She eats once almost every week with the people on her Dutch corridor. ‘My corridor mates told me that Dutch dishes are bad so we make Italian food or rice.’ As a result the three friends generally cook for themselves. Yongying: ‘Tonight I’m just going to eat an apple or an orange as I want to lose weight.’ Shanshan, who also lives on a Dutch corridor, only joins her Dutch corridor mates once a week because they talk a lot of Dutch at dinnertime. ‘And I can’t eat Dutch dishes every day.’ She’s the only one with a favourite Dutch dish. ‘I like sauerkraut.’
The girls are happy with the food they can buy in Wageningen. ‘For certain Chinese spices we can always go to a Chinese store in Arnhem or Utrecht,’ says Jingjing. The only problem when shopping are the Dutch descriptions. ‘In the beginning we had some problems finding the things we needed. A friend of mine came home with vinegar instead of oil for example.’ Yongying still finds it difficult to work out which type of flour to buy for what purpose. And Shanshan? ‘I still can’t figure out which bones are for soup and which are for dogs.’ / YdH

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