Food documentaries in China, one bite at a time
Yang Meng

Li Ziqi, a Chinese internet celebrity who cooks in village became the first Chinese-language creator with more than 10 million followers on YouTube. Subscribers watch her in the quiet countryside, farming, picking and finally, turn that freshness into delicious dishes.

Ten years ago, CCTV's food documentary "A Bite of China", ushered in the "public age" of Chinese documentaries and spurred the creation of food documentaries.

According to incomplete statistics, after the popularity of "A Bite of China", more than 100 food documentaries have been made in the past few years, which is a prosperous scene never seen in the country's food documentary industry.

"There is no country in the world that has a food story like this." Zhang Tongdao, director of the documentary center at Beijing Normal University, once told Nanfang Daily in an interview.

But some of those documentaries fall into the stereotype, where the story was not told in a proper way and the picture presented were.

What kind of documentary can win audiences over after "A Bite of China"?

Just like Li Ziqi's videos, which integrates farming, rural life, and gourmet dishes. It seems like those with high ratings on Douban, a Chinese rating website have gone out of their own style.

Short videos are also more convenient for the millions watching on smartphones. 

Micro-documentaries such as "Food for one person", "World of Hot-pot", "One-meter bento" and "The tale of cookie" have made their mark. Its fresh and pleasant rhythm and loving eating atmosphere are popular among netizens, and the form of its short videos is more in line with the habit of "Internet generation" viewers to browse in fragments.

Ten minutes long, the cooking and presentation process is just right to satisfy people's curiosity and patience.

Good looking and good taste are the basic requirements for a successful food documentary. How to make greasy kitchen, especially the kitchen table environment of many small stalls become "clean" and delicious is a challenge to the documentary on food.

From rice noodles to fried buns, one dish at a time,one episode with one story.

"Breakfast China," a micro-documentary presenting breakfasts at small stalls across China, zooms in and focuses on the food detail in pots to solve this problem.

"This is what real life is, not fancy, but tasty," commented fans on Douban.