In this 6th period of the academic year, I run a second course on Food Culture with similar topics as the course in February but with other teaching methods. The group is smaller, the period is longer and we can thus engage with the literature in a different way. One of the assignments in the course is the Food Assignment, where we have twice a lunch together based on brought food by half of the student group. A few weeks ago we had the first lunch and I was surprised how interesting it turned out in terms of food culture in practice.
One of the Chinese students came with a dish he claimed as common and even widespread made in China, which has also very strong regional cuisines. He presented chicken cooked in cola. Lots of us present were first unclear if he really meant, cola, the soft drink. Indeed, this is what he meant and we could clearly taste the cola in the chicken meat. When searching the internet I found numerous examples of chicken-cola recipes, such as this one.
Our ignorance and thus astonishment about this dish, just turned into the next astonishment when the type of meat was discussed. This student used chicken drumsticks whereas he actually needed chicken wings. But he hadn’t been able to find these in the supermarket. The Vietnamese student replied that she always bought meat at the nearby slaughterhouse. Again, eyes widened, especially among the Dutch students. Was she referring to the butcher or indeed meaning the slaughterhouse? After asserting there was no Babylonian confusion of tongues, we were curious as to where then, this slaughterhouse is located. It turned out to be a small slaughterhouse in Opheusden within 15 kilometers from Wageningen, where it was possible to buy specific qualities and cuts of meat if sufficient quantity was bought. Hence, the Vietnamese students organise a collective order every now and then. I had no idea.