(Mumtaz Hall, Taj Palace, April 13, 2017)
Your Honourable Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways
Your Honourable Mr. Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of the CPI (M)
Your Honourable Mr. K. C. Tyagi, Chief General Secretary of the JDU
Your Honourable Mr. Mahendra Prasad, Member of Parliament
Your Honourable Mr. Udit Raj, Member of Parliament
Ambassador Zhang Junsai, President of the Diaoyutai State Guest House
Ms. Sonali Chauhan, Acting General Manager of Taj Palace
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Life is beautiful. A beautiful life is based on the fulfillment of 4 basic needs, namely food, clothing, shelter and transportation.
Chinese people always attach great importance to delicious food. As a joke goes, the people in southern China could eat everything in the sky but the airplane, everything on the ground but the train and everything in the water but the ship.
Chinese cuisine is an important part of Chinese culture. And it is an invaluable cultural asset of China. What are the glory and features of the Chinese food? It’s not easy to put it in a few words. But let me try.
First, Chinese food is roughly divided into eight schools. Different parts of the country have different cuisines. The old China was a farming society. Most of the dining habits and food culture are the result of this factor. In northern China, food is generally wheat based. While in the South, people eat more rice and pepper due to the humid weather. With economic growth and better living standard, people enjoy lighter, organic and healthy food now. Some food are believed to serve as herbal medicines.
Secondly, it takes skill and selected materials to cook great Chinese cuisines. Color, flavor, taste, shape and meaning are the five necessary elements of a great dish. Cooking is an art, a professional job. Some old style cuisines are passed down from generation to generation. Toufu, Kungpao Chicken, hot pot, Peking duck are very famous dishes with a long history.
Thirdly, unlike people in the West, when Chinese people have dinner, they do it together with all family members, sitting around a round table and using chopsticks. The main courses usually include 6 to 8 dishes put in the center of the table. Sometimes the host or hostess would get food for the aged and guests to show their hospitality.
Fourthly, the dishes always carry special meanings on special occasions. The symbolic significance of a dish may be based on what it looks like or how its name is pronounced. For example, at the New Year Dinner, everyone eats fish as the Chinese word for “fish” is pronounced the same way as the word abundance. Like birthday cake, Chinese have noodles on their birthday parties, as long noodles symbolize long life. When a baby is born, people usually eat eggs painted red as they symbolize fertility.
Fifthly, traditional Chinese cuisine is more and more influenced by western culture. Right now, French cuisine, Italian cuisine and Continental cuisine are very popular among the young people. So are the Indian food like Chapati and Tandoori. Popular fast food like McDonald’s, KFC inspired the booming of Chinese fast food. So maintaining the traditional cooking skills has become a challenge for the Chinese food industry.
Many Indian friends like Chinese food. If you are going to Beijing, you can easily taste the Peking duck, but not the Diaoyutai Cuisine. The Diaoyutai Cuisine is from Dianyutai State Guest House of China. It is one of the most delicious, healthy and luxury cuisines. Usually Chinese leaders host the state banquet in honor of foreign leaders and delegations at Diyaotai. Today we have brought Diaoyutai Cuisine to you.
I am delighted to co-host this food festival with Diaoyutai State Guest House and Taj Palace. One of the purposes is to promote Chinese food in India. We hope that the Indian people could better understand Chinese food and culture; We want to promote tourist cooperation between our two countries, as food is always an important attracting factor for tourists； It is also our hope that this event could further enhance the friendship between our peoples.
That’s why the Honourable Minister of Railways is here today. I thank you for accepting my invitation, taking time from your very busy schedule. I wish the tourists could travel by high speed trains linking India and China in the future.
I appreciate the presence of Members of Parliaments, friends from MEA, and all the distinguished guests present for your participation.
I want to thank the Taj Palace for their cooperation for co-hosting this event.
Last but not least, I want to thank Ambassador Zhang Junsai, President of the Diaoyutai State Guest House. Ambassador Zhang is a senior diplomat, who served as Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Australia and Canada. I happened to be his successor in Ottawa. Without his contributions and efforts, we wouldn’t have had the chance to taste the Diaoyutai food today.
Thank you all and have a wonderful evening.