'More important than World Cup': Chinese man takes comfort food ingredients to Qatar

Deep-fried doughnut sticks are a popular breakfast food in China.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

A man from China took 9kg of raising agent used to make the popular Chinese breakfast food of deep-fried doughnut sticks to Qatar for homesick colleagues stationed in the Middle East country for this year’s Fifa World Cup.

Fan Yantao works for a bus manufacturer from Henan province in central China that supplies buses to the World Cup and has sent more than 100 employees to Qatar. Some have been there for nine months, said Fan, who is identified as “Brother Tao” on Douyin.

Last month, he had to go to Qatar and in the days before his departure, he received a phone call from colleagues. They told him they missed home and wanted to eat you tiao -deep-fried dough stick, but could not find a raising agent in Qatar.

Fan went to a number of shops to secure more than 20 bags of raising agent and then transported them to Qatar in the luggages of a number of people.
PHOTO: Baidu

“They said the company’s canteen is out of raising agent. They searched in all Chinese supermarkets but didn’t find any,” Fan said in a video he posted on Douyin. “They asked me if I could buy and bring some to them when I go to Qatar.”

Deep-fried dough sticks are standard breakfast food and a popular street snack in China. The golden-brown deep-fried strip of dough has a crisp texture, with raising agent an important ingredient in making the dough crispy outside with a spongy interior.

Fan went to local supermarkets and wet markets before he left and bought more than 20 bags of raising agent weighing 9kg.

According to Fan the effort of transporting the ingredients was worthwhile because he was able to ease his coworkers home sickness.
PHOTO: Baidu

He said he had been worried that the airline and customs would not allow him to take so much on board the plane as hand luggage, so he placed some bags in the luggage of other colleagues travelling to Qatar.

The day after Fan arrived in Qatar, you tiao was cooked at the company’s canteen using the leavening agent bought by Fan.

“Seeing my colleagues eat you tiao happily, I feel everything I did is worthwhile,” he said on Douyin.

After Fan touched down in Qatar his delighted colleagues were able to enjoy dough sticks thanks to the raising agent he brought with him.
PHOTO: Baidu

Mainland Chinese internet users have been delighted by Fan’s kindness.

“Filling the stomachs of fellow workers is more important than the World Cup,” said one person on Weibo.

With the World Cup looming, many internet users have expressed their disappointment on social media that: “China sent everything to Qatar, except its national soccer team.”

Fan with a fresh batch of dough sticks made in the company canteen for his colleagues in Qatar.
PHOTO: Baidu

Chinese companies from various industries have been commercially involved in the sporting event, from building the main stadium to installing metro barrier doors to making souvenirs.

“China’s male soccer team is our pain point forever,” said one user on Weibo, referring to the team’s poor performance in the past decades.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.