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14 June 2018

Beer and ice cream: China-Russia cultural exchanges start with food

Days ahead of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for an exclusive interview with President of China Media Group (CMG) Shen Haixiong at the Kremlin in Moscow. During the meeting, Putin talked about the international hot-button topics such as the Korean Peninsula tensions, the Belt and Road Initiative and Russia’s domestic and foreign policies.

It marked his first exclusive interview with foreign media since being inaugurated for his fourth term as Russian president.
Besides the political issues, one of the most frequently mentioned topics in Shen’s interview with President Putin was food, the specialties, and desserts in both Chinese and Russian cities.

In the past years, China and Russia have witnessed frequent high-level exchanges. In 2017 alone, the presidents of the two nations met five times. With each meeting, the culinary cultures of both countries have entered the spotlight and caused a buzz on social media. 
Vodka and sausage
While talking about his impression of his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, President Putin said Xi is the only world leader who has celebrated a birthday with him. He also mentioned the vodka and sausage they had during that celebration, after a full day’s work.

The match is probably one of the most typical Russian dishes, and vodka, the distilled beverage widely used in cocktails and mixed drinks, has had an international following since the 19th century.

Vodka tastes better when chilled, so a couple of hours in the freezer before drinking is highly recommended.
Beer and seafood
Speaking of drinks, Qingdao City in east China Shandong, which will serve as host city for the upcoming SCO summit, is also world-renowned for one of its drink, Tsingtao Beer. Located on the coast, the city is also famous for the variety and freshness of its seafood.

Sitting on the beautiful coastline while enjoying a bottle of beer, paired with freshly-caught seafood, could be the best form of relaxation for anyone visiting the city. President Putin told Shen that he loves seafood and beer, and would like very much to have a taste of the match. “I will try not to drink too much,” he said.
Russian ice cream goes viral in China
In 2016, while attending the G20 Summit in China southern Hangzhou City, the Russian president said he brought a box of Russian ice cream as a present for President Xi, making the dessert go viral in China.
According to data released by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, Russian export of ice cream to China stood at 2.7 million US dollars in 2017, with a 13 percent increase year on year, and that number is expected to rise further this year.

President Putin said he would again bring a gift for President Xi during their upcoming meeting, but would rather keep it a secret. “I would like to keep it a secret, and I could tell you later in private,” he told Shen.
Green tea from Hangzhou

Before the end of the interview, Shen gifted Russian president the famous Chinese tea – Longjing tea, he brought all the way from Hangzhou, his hometown. Longjing tea is one of the most famous and high-quality green teas in China.

The CMG president also sent a special collection of all their interviews with President Putin since 2000. He gave him an album of paintings of the Russian capital Moscow as a return from President Putin.

The Russian president is expected to pay a state visit to China on June 8-10 and attend the Qingdao SCO Summit. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday that the visit “will be of great significance to the planning of the development of China-Russia relations in the next phase”.


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