Food is a universal language, and food festivals of various types are ways people frequently use to promote their food culture, thus becoming the best platform for cultural exchanges.
Running alongside the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations in Beijing, the Chengdu Panda Asian Food Festival (CPAFF) proved a tasty side dish, impressing guests from around the globe.
The CPAFF, which ran from May 15 through May 22 in the capital city of Southwest China's Sichuan province, presented 45 sub-events and sideshows, including an opening ceremony, forums on cuisine culture, food experiences, as well as exchanges among chefs.
As the official website for the Festival, foodfestival.gochengdu.cn provides the latest updates and information about the event and the city of Chengdu.
According to statistics from the site, the PV of the website reached nearly one million.
At the opening ceremony of the Festival, the Chengdu Catering Profession Association announced the establishment of the Asian Food Culture Alliance (AFCA), in hopes of giving the people across the world a better understanding of the diverse food cultures in Asia.
The One Belt One Road South East Asian NGOs Alliance, World Chilli Alliance, Slow Food International China Branch, International Food Culture Exchange Association in South Korea and a Japanese alliance for spicy food, are the first professional members of the AFCA.
During the CPAFF, Thailand, Israel, Pakistan, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and China's Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions held their theme events, offering Chengdu residents and tourists from other parts of China and countries/regions experiences of their unique cuisines and cultures.
In the perspectives of many participants of the event, the Festival is not just about food, but about culture and people-to-people exchanges.
"I like Chengdu people's lifestyle and their attitude toward life. I remember when I and my girlfriend came to Chengdu for the first time, after having drunk some tea, we went to a local restaurant. It was so lively and cozy, and I felt it was the right place and right time to propose to my girlfriend," said Mr. Ran Peleg, Consul General of Israel in Chengdu, making no effort to conceal his love for the city.
Mr. Peleg has a strong and special feeling for Sichuan food, in particular, spicy Sichuan dishes. "Twice Cooked Pork, Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles and hotpot are my favorites. The hotter, the more I like them," he said.
Mr. Vithit Powattanasuk, Consul General of the Royal Thai Consulate General in Chengdu, is also a fan of Chengdu food.
"Food is the easiest and most effective way for cultural exchanges," he said, believing that food is key to cultural exchanges between Asia and the rest of the world. "It gives outsiders the immediate knowledge of the local culture and people."
As the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in Asia, Chengdu has the largest number of restaurants among all cities in China and showcases great inclusiveness and diversity in its food culture.
Based on big data, Koubei and Ele.me, two leading food delivery platforms in China, released Catering Trends in Chengdu on May 15.
The report indicates that in the first quarter of this year, the number of Asian restaurants in Chengdu increased by 56%, exceeding that in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, second only to Shenzhen.
In the first quarter, Southeast Asian, Japanese, Korean and Western-style cuisines were among those witnessing the greatest increase in terms of consumption in Chengdu's catering industry. Local residents' spending on Southeast Asian and Japanese & Korean cuisines rose by 251% and 186% respectively, compared with that of the same period a year ago.