Beef Noodle Soup, Wuhan, China

Beef Noodle Soup, Wuhan, China

Wuhan is a city of some 10 million people in central China along the Yangzi River. I was more than a little surprised to discover that Wuhan noodle shops and food stands, of which there must be thousands and thousands, serve noodles and other items in paper containers. Disposable paper containers! And disposable wooden chopsticks! I was informed that the shops save money because they do not have to pay people to wash dishes. How nice. You could not ask for a better example of how Chinese and lots of other people deal with the (apparent) trade offs between sustainability and immediate gains. Money appears to win every time. I suppose it could be worse; the containers could be made of white styrofoam.

The beef noodle soup in the picture was quite tasty, but – go ahead and call me old fashioned – it would have been tastier served in a proper bowl. You are hearing from an old fogy who hates drinking coffee out of paper cups, though he has caved in to the inevitable and does so. But I absolutely will not drink the coffee through the little hole in the plastic cover on the paper cup. Not a chance! I take the cover off. There is a limit to how low I will stoop to accommodate the “modern” world. Under the best of circumstances, the aesthetics of food does not play much of a role in a down market Chinese noodle shop. But really, disposable container, disposable eating utensils, disposable napkin… At what point do we arrive at disposable food, disposable eating?


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Born in the United States, photographer, bookworm, expatriate

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