American expat seeks to promote Chinese culture through cooking shows

2022-03-06 Xinhua Editor:Zhang Dongfang

Chopping pork meat, hollowing out green peppers, and then stuffing the meat into them, Adrien Brill was learning to make a Chinese delicacy at a local household in a small village in east China's Anhui Province.

The whole process was filmed as well. Brill, an American expat living in Huangshan City of Anhui, was making yet another culinary video to cater to the tastes of his 100,000 followers on the short-video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

"I started making short videos on Douyin last September. I make all kinds of delicacies, including Chinese and Western delicacies. I think it's meaningful because this gives me an opportunity to share my cultural experiences and learn about the cultural experiences of others," said the 32-year-old.

In 2014, Brill met his then-girlfriend Qiu Tong in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, when he was learning Chinese at Sichuan University. He followed Qiu to her hometown of Huangshan after graduation, and they got married in 2019.

Brill's relationship with China goes back to his infancy when he was babysat by a Chinese nanny.

"The nanny didn't speak much English, so I was exposed to many Chinese words every day. The first sentence I spoke, being an infant, was Chinese, not English, according to my parents," he recalled.

His interest in China and Chinese culture grew stronger after he spent a month in China during the summer of 2006 with his mother, a language teacher who got a summer job there.

"That was my first time in China. Since then, the idea of coming to China was rooted deeply in my mind. The idea was like a little fire at first, but it gradually lit up my whole world," said Brill, who finally decided to come to China in 2009 to volunteer at a kindergarten in Chengdu.

Brill had a good time savoring different Chinese delicacies in Chengdu, and he also cooked for himself when he missed the food in America.

In order to satisfy his stomach, Brill had to cook more often after he resided in Huangshan with his wife Qiu, as it is difficult to find authentic Western food in a small city like Huangshan. He has called his parents multiple times for the recipes of different foods he used to have during his childhood, such as lasagna, strawberry tart and pumpkin pie.

As a result, his Western culinary skills improved quickly despite residing in China.

Brill also learned how to make Chinese food, including moon cakes, fried rice and braised pork with brown sauce, to please his wife and mother-in-law, and of course himself, as well.

He has posted 54 culinary videos so far on his Douyin account, with one episode receiving over 158,000 likes alone. Besides showing people how to make food, Brill also shares the cultural background and his personal story behind each food, which adds more flavor to his show. It only took him five months to attract more than 100,000 followers on his account.

"Food is a big part of the culture. I look forward to exploring more places in China and learning to cook more dishes. I really enjoy my life here in China. It has become my second home," said Brill. 

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