TV show spurs taste for hidden delicacies

TV show spurs taste for hidden delicacies
When the programme's second season made its debut, Sichuan sausages, Peking duck and Nyingchi honey were the first to sell out.

One of the least popular products offered by online shop owner Zhang Xiaowei in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, is being snapped up by thousands thanks to a popular food documentary.

Zhang's shop at online retail platform Tmall sells a variety of products from the depths of Tibetan forests, including saffron and Chinese caterpillar fungus.

But honey from Nyingchi in Tibet had gone almost unrecognized, to Zhang's disappointment.

Each year, Tibetan beekeepers trek from low to high altitudes in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, seeking blossoms which are free from pollution and pesticides to allow their bees to produce honey of rare quality.

But because beekeeping is still a niche business in Tibet and the blossom season there is comparatively short, Nyingchi honey often costs more than other varieties.

Zhang said this was probably one of the reasons that had deterred people from tasting it.

In the first episode of the popular China Central Television documentary A Bite of China II shown on April 18, Nyingchi honey featured in the story of a Tibetan family searching the forests for raw food and natural happiness.

Almost immediately after the programme was shown, Zhang's honey sales began to increase and he has now sold 3,500 bottles.

CCTV head Hu Zhanfan has described the programme as a record of Chinese people's "living wisdom and cultural traditions". A Bite of China, which explores the relationship between people and food, was the most recognised TV production in China in 2012.

Staging a high-profile return, the documentary's eight-episode second season travels to more than 150 places nationwide to focus on artistically crafted urban banquets, simple home cooking and nature's raw offerings.

This year, Tmall has been authorised to launch a website featuring sales information about food mentioned in the documentary.

Among the first batch of 100 food products, most of which went online on April 18 when the programme's second season made its debut, Sichuan sausages, Peking duck and Nyingchi honey were the first to sell out.

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