Olympian: I’ll take a burger and fries

Fuwa “Olympic Fever” has struck China. Much of the talk in the West has been about human rights and political freedoms, but the Chinese themselves are more excited to host the Olympics this summer than you can possibly imagine. I was in China in 2005 when things were just beginning to heat up, and now ...

"Olympic Fever" has struck China. Much of the talk in the West has been about human rights and political freedoms, but the Chinese themselves are more excited to host the Olympics this summer than you can possibly imagine. I was in China in 2005 when things were just beginning to heat up, and now I'm catching a little bit of the fever myself. It's going to be one massive party, with half a million foreign visitors and 2 million domestic Chinese flocking to Beijing.

When you have a party, you need to provide food—and the Olympic village is going to have tons of it to feed the hungry throngs.  With just 30 percent of its culinary offerings of the Chinese or Asian persuasion, there will be a lot of variety. There's even talk of a Beijing Kosher restaurant opening a stand to appeal to Jewish and Muslim visitors.

But China has made big headlines this year for its quality control problems—including a recent string of illnesses under investigation in Japan due to imported Chinese dumplings. Some fear the Games' participants could inadvertently ingest additives that produce positive drug test results. As such, a few teams have proven skittish about fueling their athletes with food made in China. One American swimmer even said, "McDonald's is everywhere... So I'll have some of that if I need it." The U.S. Olympic Committee has asked its squad's executive chef to provide three meals per day for the team, a step up from the "lunch and boxed meals" in Athens in 2004. (The committee insists this change is not due to concerns over the food in Beijing.)

Fuwa
Fuwa

“Olympic Fever” has struck China. Much of the talk in the West has been about human rights and political freedoms, but the Chinese themselves are more excited to host the Olympics this summer than you can possibly imagine. I was in China in 2005 when things were just beginning to heat up, and now I’m catching a little bit of the fever myself. It’s going to be one massive party, with half a million foreign visitors and 2 million domestic Chinese flocking to Beijing.

When you have a party, you need to provide food—and the Olympic village is going to have tons of it to feed the hungry throngs.  With just 30 percent of its culinary offerings of the Chinese or Asian persuasion, there will be a lot of variety. There’s even talk of a Beijing Kosher restaurant opening a stand to appeal to Jewish and Muslim visitors.

But China has made big headlines this year for its quality control problems—including a recent string of illnesses under investigation in Japan due to imported Chinese dumplings. Some fear the Games’ participants could inadvertently ingest additives that produce positive drug test results. As such, a few teams have proven skittish about fueling their athletes with food made in China. One American swimmer even said, “McDonald’s is everywhere… So I’ll have some of that if I need it.” The U.S. Olympic Committee has asked its squad’s executive chef to provide three meals per day for the team, a step up from the “lunch and boxed meals” in Athens in 2004. (The committee insists this change is not due to concerns over the food in Beijing.)

Personally, I found the food there fantastic, and I know the Chinese government is moving heaven and Earth to avoid any embarrassing food-related incidents. But I also understand that competitors who have trained their entire lives for these Games don’t want to take any risks. I just hope that, once they are done competing, they’ll get a chance to sample some of Beijing’s culinary delights.

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