Beijing has a largest number of commuters ( most are white-collar workers) in China. Beijing commuters spend 52 minutes average on the road to their offices by the way of walking (lucky), driving, biking and taking public buses.
Because of the huge commuting distances in Beijing, the local commuters have a very short time for breakfast. Most of them eat breakfast on their way to work.
They eat at the roadside restaurants, little breakfast stalls or pancake stalls (jianbing) on the streets, or take simple breakfasts to their offices. As for those fast breakfasts, nothing is relative to enjoying, just a routine of feeding themselves.
Lunch is no better for most of the white-collar workers in Beijing, who have no time going back home for lunch during lunch time. Despite an array of choices from company cafeterias for big companies, outsourced lunches for smaller ones, to Chinese and Western fast food chains for those who like to dine out, a good lunch is hard to find in Beijing. Lunch has been a problem especially for those working in the high story office buildings.
Most employees eat from the company pot during the noon hour largely because the prices are cheaper. or the lunches are complimentary offered by companies. Statistics from China Cuisine Association show 40 % of white collars eat lunch at company cafeterias or outsourced lunches, and 30 % eat fast food.
For our office, everyday we buy lunch 20 yuan from a lunch vendor. In the past few years, we have changed several lunch vendors. None of them has been able to keep us satisfied mainly due to the lack of menu change. The present lunch vendors which we have kept for one year is the longest one we have ever used.
It seems no lunch vendor is able to make our tummies happy. Last Friday afternoon, somebody from our office, took the lead proposing a potluck lunch on the next Monday (that’s today). The response was overwhelming! The result was the next Monday (Today) would be our first gourmet festival (potluck)!!
Potluck in a workplace in China is not as popular as in the west. Among other reasons, the big reason is because Chinese meals are difficult to make and carry unlike western food featuring bread, butter, salad, fruit, desserts…
I didn’t know how my co-workers had prepared their entrees on the last weekend. As for me, I had no cooking talent, or more exactly speaking, I’m a little kitchen-phobic.
But still I wanted to enjoy a sense of participation, and sharing with others. So I went to our local community vegetable market and bought a bag of cherry tomatoes and another bag of Shatang mandarins (Shatang oranges). Both cherry tomatoes and Shatang oranges are my favorites. hopefully my co-workers would like them too.
Today, our first potluck lunch day, I’m the first to come to office with great expectation. Soon my co-workers come one by one brown-bagging with bigger noises and smiles despite of the frustration on the way to office due to the traffic congestion on the Beijing Monday peak hour.
Around 9:00am, our office kitchen is piled with pre-made Chinese dishes. Most of these entrees need to be warmed in the microwave oven.
A banner is hung up on the west wall of our meeting room where our first gourmet festival will take place.
Everybody in the office, I guess, is complaining how slowly is the morning time going! The temptation for the first potluck lunch is so great, some enter the meeting room several times to check the watering dishes before lunch time.
Today’s lunch time is half hour later than usual because most of the dishes need to be warmed one by one in the microwave oven.
Each dish will be tagged with the name of the menu and its cooker.
Let’s have a look at these watering dishes: fried hairtails, fried shrimps, red-sauced pork, fried fished, Moo Shu Pork , home sushi, bean fillings forlettuce wrapers.
More dishes: Fried chestnuts with chicken, bell pepper and mushroom, boiled corns, preserved vegetable, shrimp with vegetable, Curry Chicken, fried mushroom, bean paste pork, fried onion mutton and fried beef.
Vegetable, bean curd, and fruit: lettuce used as wrappers with fried bean fillings, cherry tomatoes and Shatang oranges
The staple food today: rice, steamed rolls , three kids of pies
Now we are about to start our first potluck lunch. Before eating, everybody is required to tell her or his story of the making of the dish. This is a pre-climax before the potlucks lunch. Everybody is excited to introduce their proud and favorite dish. It is a great time sharing recipes and generally enjoying the company of the co-workers in the office.
Now the battle is on with everybody stuck with the food on the connected desks. If you don’t feel yourself at home, you will lose the delicacies on the table. So, why hesitate, go!
Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Beijing:
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites
Any questions, just drop a line.