Chinese mainland video bloggers earn fans on YouTube with mouthwatering rural cuisine

By Liu Zhongyin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/21 17:44:02

A man prepares to cook seasoned chicken using a bamboo tube. Photo: IC

A man takes a look at steamed crabs in Huai'an, East China's Jiangsu Province on October 2, 2018. Photo: IC

A crayfish climbs the bank of a stream as a village girl stands in the water cleaning a bucket full of the tiny creatures. When you come across this video on YouTube, you might want to consider stopping here and grabbing some lunch, otherwise you might end up torturing yourself with the following mouthwatering images as the seafood is prepared and eaten by the video's host. 

The video uploaded by Xia (pseudonym), a villager video blogger or v-blogger, has more than 1 million views on YouTube. "Foreigners are curious about village life in China and they like that the way we eat and live is so close to nature," Xia told the Global Times. 

Chinese streaming sites such as TikTok and Kuaishou are no longer the only battlefields for Chinese v-loggers to compete for views. Now overseas platforms like YouTube are seeing more and more Chinese foodies upload video content. 

According to the popularity list of YouTube broadcasters updated by free stats toolkit Noxinfluencer, three broadcasters among the top five YouTube channels active in the Chinese mainland share videos about food and two of them upload videos about the cuisine found in picturesque rural villages in China. Although many of these bloggers speak Chinese and have Chinese subtitles, a lot of viewers from other countries leave comments, which indicates that delicious food is a universal language.

Distinctive style

Similarity is the most deteriorating factor that prevents content creators from standing out. Fortunately, Chinese cuisine varies tremendously depending on region when it comes to cooking methods and ingredients, which provides food v-bloggers vast resources to draw upon for their content. 

The most popular v-bloggers all have their own distinctive styles. 

"I pluck hedge-side chrysanthemum with pleasure, and see the tranquil southern mountain in leisure," reads a line from a poem describing a reclusive way of life in the countryside by Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) poet Tao Yuanming. It reflects the simple pleasure of farming during the day and resting at night in ancient China and showing respect for nature. This kind of harmony among people, Heaven and Earth is an important philosophy in China. 

Internet celebrity Li Ziqi is a follower of this philosophy. The food videos she uploads depict an idyllic rural lifestyle. Li's videos usually start with collecting the ingredients, such as picking fresh berries in the wild, cutting off bamboo shoots in the forest, plucking vegetables from the field. Li shows off the preparation of these fresh ingredients mostly at the balcony of her cottage so the green plants and flowers flourishing in her yard can be seen. Wearing plain cotton clothes with braids in her hair, Li conveys a classic image of beauty. This and her interaction with her grandma have helped her bring in a total of 5.79 million subscribers on YouTube so far.            

With more than 1 million subscribers, Shyo Video is also an up-and-coming YouTuber who shares videos of cooking outdoors besides a lake in a mountainous area. Dressed in ragged clothes and wearing a broken bamboo hat, the v-blogger pretends to be a homeless beggar and sometimes incorporates music from Chinese martial arts TV series. His cooking style is very wild. Sometimes he cooks using a big iron pot on some rocks, or even directly on a rock itself. The foods he cooks tend to be eye-popping as well, such as a bull's head or an entire cow leg including the hoof.    

Making a living

Xia said she finds YouTube beneficial since she can study the cinematography and story-telling methods of videos uploaded to the platform by excellent content creator around the world.

Xia lives in a village with her family in Shaoxing, East China's Zhejiang Province. Initially she intended to go into the electronics business, but ended up turning to sharing video content to make a living. First uploading videos to YouTube starting in October 2018, Xia has earned 166,000 subscribers so far. Xia told the Global Times that she earns about $5,000 every month from the platform. 

China's self-media professionals earn a living and even become millionaires by creating videos about food, cooking, eating or searching for great restaurants and uploading them on video-sharing platforms. Netizens are entertained with the alluring scenes of food, the funny looks of broadcasters or the dazzling specialties in different restaurants.

"I saw many people sharing videos about country life online. It inspired me. The scenery in my hometown is beautiful and I have convenient access to fresh vegetables and ingredients, so I thought 'why not give it a try?'" Xia explained. 

Different from some video bloggers backed by a studio team, Xia makes her videos with her husband. She stars in the videos while her husband handles the filming. They also do the editing such as adding background music and subtitles themselves. To make the videos more accessible for viewers, Xia also provides English sometimes.

"I think the fact we can attract fans on YouTube is proof of our ability to make videos," Xia said.   

Newspaper headline: Taste temptation


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