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Culinary diplomacy: The internet is obsessed with what Janet Yellen eats in China

BEIJING — Since eating psychedelic mushrooms in Beijing last July, Janet Yellen has united Americans and Chinese to figure out what she would eat next.

And now that the U.S. Treasury Secretary is back in China this week, after stops in Guangzhou and Beijing, many people are less interested in her trips aimed at rebuilding relations between the world’s two largest economies, and more fascinated by what and where she will eat next.

From its forays into Sichuan dumplings, Peking duck, mouth-watering chicken and twice-cooked pork, even Chinese politicians at the highest party ranks are noticing its popularity on the culinary arts scene.

On the eve of a highly anticipated bilateral meeting Sunday between Yellen and Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People, he noted in his opening speech that Yellen’s visit has “indeed attracted a lot of attention in the society”, the media covering his trip. dines among other customers and doesn’t like partitions separating her from other diners, making her silver hair very recognizable when she’s out and about.

The use of his chopsticks in a restaurant in Guangzhou also came under particular scrutiny.

A social media account run by Chinese state media posted an eye-catching video of Yellen on her first night in China, eating with the U.S. ambassador and other officials at Tao Tao Ju, a Guangzhou restaurant dating back to 1880.

The post, one of the most viewed on the microblogging app Weibo the next morning, praised Yellen for her good chopsticks, but added: “As a US official, Yellen needs to know more about China than just about food. Only by knowing more about China can we redress America’s view of the world, China, and China-US relations.”

And in a Sunday meeting with Peking University Dean Huang Yiping, he joked that China was monitoring news of his arrival as well as his dinner, to which Yellen responded: “My skills in chopsticks!”

In the United States, Yellen also often stops to eat at fast food joints and local restaurants during domestic trips before events to promote Biden administration policies such as the Tax Reduction Act. Democrats’ inflation and infrastructure bill, and made headlines.

A stop last November at In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco before heading to the airport to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting also became a viral moment.

In China, her very first viral moment happened when she unknowingly ate mushrooms that can turn psychedelic if cooked incorrectly at a Yunnan restaurant called Yi Zuo Yi Wang during her first trip as a Secretary of the Treasury last July. Mushroom-gate went viral on the Internet and the restaurant has since dedicated part of its menu to Yellen’s visit, where diners can order what she ate.

She told CNN at the time: “There was a delicious mushroom dish. I didn’t know that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned it later.

In China for the second time this week, Yellen hopes to make progress on the issue of what she calls Chinese overproduction of solar products, electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries that she says threaten global economic stability if nothing is done.

And this time in Beijing, Yellen ate at Lao Chuan Ban, a popular Sichuan restaurant. She also had lunch with Beijing Mayor Yin Yong at the Beijing International Hotel.

On Monday evening, her last night in China, Yellen visited Jing-A Brewing Co. in Beijing — co-founded by an American — where she ordered a Flying Fist IPA, a beer made with American hops.

She took a sip and called it “excellent.”


Associated Press researcher Wanqing Chen contributed to this report.

ABC News

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