A monologue by a small potato with big dreams
Published: Mar 19, 2024 10:58 PM
Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Hello everyone! I am a small potato from Northwest China's Gansu Province, far far away from most of the big cities. I used to envy my cousin who grew up in the Northeast, who is indispensable in the renowned dish Disanxian, or Sauteed Potato, Eggplant and Green Pepper, on the dining table and serves the popularity of the city of Harbin in Heilongjiang Province. Meanwhile, there is my other cousin in East China's Shandong Province, who already took advantage of the east wind that was Zibo barbecue early in 2023 and succeeded to stand in the limelight. 

Looking at myself, I felt like the Ugly Duckling. I thought that I would remain unknown and buried deep in the earth. 

However, guess what? One day, I suddenly became a trending topic on social media and an online sensation as my hometown Tianshui's malatang, a type of very spicy hot pot, became known to people all over the country. Everyone thinks I'm yummy as part of the dish, and I have to say, it feels good to be loved, and good to see so many new friends coming from other places to my hometown to have a taste of malatang.

Dingxi is where I grew up. It has a cool climate, the best soil, at least I think so, and sharp temperature differences between day and night. The special soil and climate conditions have made each of my brothers and sisters and me look golden and bright, with porcelain white insides and a mellow taste. We are rich in potassium and multiple vitamins. In my hometown, there is a saying that goes "Dingxi, Gansu Province has three treasures: yangyu, tudou, malingshu. [three different Chinese names for potatoes.]" From this saying, you can understand what my hometown is all about.

Hand-made noodles have captured the hearts of many netizens and gastronomes. They are the absolute top choice as an ingredient for Gansu malatang. These noodles are made from us as raw materials. The flour processed from Dingxi potatoes can be said to be an exclusive delicacy in Gansu. The restaurants use potato flour to knead the noodles and cut them into strips. These crystal clear fresh noodles will not melt into the soup even after being cooked for a long time. When these noodles are served together with the soup and spicy oil, a rare divine delicacy is born. 

By the way, my good partner is the Gangu chili pepper. A key ingredient, the fried chili pepper is spicy and does not burn your mouth. It is a legendary magic ingredient that "smells good even if the sole of a shoe is dipped in it."

Tudou, yangyu, malingshu, nothing can stop Tianshui people from loving me. This kind of love is as simple and natural as the changing of the seasons. They get up early for potato cakes, fry shredded potatoes for lunch, and have potato dough at night. You see, their whole day has clearly been arranged by us.

Although we are just small potatoes, we have big dreams that more tourists and friends can enjoy our delicious malatang. For this reason, we are happy to see that our enthusiastic fellow people are doing all they can to promote Tianshui. Taxi drivers are telling visitors where to have delicious food in Tianshui. The local government has taken quick action to provide convenience and assistance to tourists in the form of services such as a special direct bus line that runs from the airport directly to malatang restaurants.

Although, as a potato, I am small, my dream is big and now so close to becoming reality. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.