On 8 January, 2023, Ambassador Cui Aimin attended the opening ceremony of the Chinese Food Festival. Ms. Susanne Andersson, CEO of Visit Sweden, representatives from the government, business and culture circles and academia, overseas Chinese in Sweden and some diplomatic envoys to Sweden attended the event, bringing the total attendees to more than 200 people.

The red lanterns are full of Chinese New Year vibe, and the auspicious Chinese knots look happy and festive, bringing strong “Chinese style” to the venue. The event kicked off with a traditional Chinese lion dance performance. Dancing to the beat of happy drums and gongs, the auspicious and mighty red lion welcomes the arrival of all guests. The lion is strong but charmingly naive, sometimes in high spirits, sometimes as if just awakening from a dream. It’s so vivid that the audience is giving rounds and rounds of applause and cheers.

Ambassador Cui congratulated on the opening of the Chinese Food Festival in a warm and festive atmosphere. He said in his speech that Chinese food is rich in variety, which reflects the colorful life of the Chinese people and embodies the cultural connotation of “people-oriented, conforming to nature, and aspiration for harmony”. As a messenger of international cultural exchanges, Chinese food is open and inclusive, enhancing the understanding and friendship between Chinese people and people around the world. Chinese food connects China with the world, links the past with the future, and has become a common treasure of human culture. The Chinese food industry now in Sweden is growing and thriving steadily, which brings local people gourmet enjoyment and conveys the friendship between the two peoples.

Ambassador Cui pointed out that Chinese gourmet culture is inseparable from China’s development. Today, the Chinese people have embarked on a new journey of national development and will create a better future through Chinese modernization. Chinese gourmet culture will surely shine more brightly. The Chinese people are ready to work with people around the world to constantly pursue a happy and wonderful life. Ambassador Cui extended blessings for the Chinese Spring Festival to all the guests and invited them to visit China and experience in person the rich and colorful gourmet culture of China.

Ms. Andersson said in her speech that food is not only essential to life, it also tells us so much about our conditions, about nature and culture. Not only does food tourism contribute positively to the sustainability of society in several ways, it also strengthens the development of the attractiveness of places for both visitors and residents. Chinese cuisine is well-known for its rich flavors and great diversities, and it’s very impressive. Before the pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Sweden had quadrupled in a decade. It is believed that as China further optimizes its COVID response measures, more and more Chinese tourists will come to Sweden again in the near future and enjoy Swedish food culture.

At the opening ceremony, wonderful performances like the lingering Chinese Kunqu Opera, the melodious Chinese folk music, the graceful Chinese dance, and the Swedish students’ jazz music with a beautiful rhythm pushed the event to one climax after another, and the guests were immersed and applauded continuously with praises.

Ambassador Cui accompanied the guests to watch the themed food sculptures of “the Dragon out of the East Sea” and the “Bear Tracks in the Snow” symbolizing good luck, prosperity and happiness. Common ingredients like carps, carrots, papayas and pumpkins were sculpted by the skillful hands of the chefs into exquisite characters like dragons, clouds and flowers. Amazed by the food sculptures, the guests took out their cameras to mark the moment. Ambassador Cui also guided the guests to watch a performance of Chinese tea ceremony. The guests tasted the refreshing tea and appreciated the presentation of Chinese calligraphy. Attracted by the brush, ink and paper on the desk, Ms. Andersson also took up the brush and experienced writing with it. Her calligraphy penmanship has a touch of flow and strength.

The guests harvested new and enhanced friendship “via the bond of food”, learning a lot about the food, traditions, culture and history of China. They tasted the signature dishes of the “Eight Chinese Cuisines” such as the golden and crispy chrysanthemum fish and the braised and tender Dongpo pork. They also tried traditional Chinese snacks like the tangyuan, fried dough twist, fried dough stick, steamed buns and Chinese crepes. The guests were full of praise for the food and experience.

The guests said that the Chinese Food Festival was splendid, colorful and full of charm. It gave them not only an opportunity to taste the authentic and exquisite Chinese dishes, but also a chance to get a deeper understanding of the Chinese culture embodied therein. For the guests that had been to China, the Festival was a reminder of their beautiful memories of the country; For the guests that had not been to China, the Festival gives them good reasons to look forward to visiting the country. The guests said that they hope to visit Chinese restaurants in Sweden more often, and hope to visit China very soon in the future, and try “tasting China on the tip of the tongue” in person.

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Hosted by the China Cultural Center in Stockholm and co-organized by the Sverige Kinesiska Restuarang Föreningen, this event was held at Berns, the first hotel in Sweden to provide Chinese food in the 1940s. After the opening ceremony, the Chinese Food Festival began open to the public. In just three hours, more than a thousand local people joined the event, tasting Chinese food in the atmosphere of the New Year, and feeling the warmth of spring in the cold winter.

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