Beulah Maud Devaney

China: Fried Rice and Flavourful Origins


In 2020 I was too busy stockpiling toilet paper and paying 35 euros for a 25ml bottle of hand sanitiser on Amazon to pay much attention to Chinese New Year. A year later and a year wiser, I decided to reinstate my usual tradition of eating Chinese food while reading my horoscope (I’m a Fire Rabbit, the most badass of… rabbits…).

I also had some rehabilitation work to do after my less than impressive attempt to tackle The Veggie Chinese Takeaway Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan



The Food

I made Eight Treasure Fried Rice, here’s Kwoklyn Wan explaining the history of the dish:

“Since the Western Zhou dynasty in ancient China, around 2,000 years ago, eight treasure fried rice has been traditionally served during Chinese New Year. ‘Why eight?’ I hear you ask? Well, in China the word for eight is ba which sounds like fa, which means fortune.”

Fun fact for all you internet scammers out there, I have three 8s in my birth date. Another fun fact: I am actually ok at cooking eight treasure fried rice! The recipe was a tiny bit complicated (for me) and involved three separate dishes but the end result was well worth the effort.

Also did you know you can cook rice in the oven? Discovering this has improved my life and made me notably less resentful about not having a slow cooker.



The Film

Because the Netflix algorithm seems to be especially dodgy when it comes to China (case in point: they listed Joshua as a Chinese documentary), we were halfway through Little Big Women before realising it’s actually a Taiwanese film. And yes, I know I should have done more research but in my defense I was cooking three different dishes and apparently I can’t read.

So Little Big Women is highly recommended but what about the rest of the evening?

Flavourful Origins is a Netflix documentary series about Chinese cuisine, with each 10-15 minute episode focusing on the history and traditions of a different ingredient. The illustrations and sun-drenched landscapes make it feel a bit like an extended advert for the Chinese tourist board. Overall it’s fairly interesting and the episode about eating lilies was oddly soothing (opting to view the non-meat episodes was probably a good shout for this vegetarian-sometimes-vegan).



The Findings

Not the best example of Chinese cinema but now that I’ve successfully attempted one of Kwoklyn Wan’s recipes I’m looking forward to trying again.

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