The purpose of this project, Who Can Eat This, is to create an extension of thought about a single food dish (Chinese Beef Noodles) to its cultural influences, and use it as a platform to initiate a discussion on global poverty. Beef Noodles (牛肉面), is a dish common to Chinese restaurants in the United States, and can also be found in China and Taiwan at restaurants ranging from “hole-in-the-wall” to restaurants with the equivalent of 3 dollar signs on yelp. While many could purchase a bowl of beef noodles without much hesitation, those living at the poverty line, would have to spend multiple days without food to save enough money for one serving of beef noodles.
I purchased a plate of Beef Noodles at a typical Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles for what I thought was fairly cheap (between $6 and $7) and noticed that I could probably make the dish for much cheaper – except what are all the ingredients I would need and how much of them would I have to buy in order to make two servings? This project details the food ingredients needed for one portion of beef noodles, providing visual representations of what the portions may look like when bought by an individual living at the poverty line in China. With the goal of capturing glimpses of the various lifestyles in China while focusing in on one specific lifestyle, Who Can Eat This hopes to show viewers what it would look like for an individual living at the poverty line to eat the same meal as one who lives above the poverty line.
By breaking down the ingredients of one Chinese food dish, I hope to give the viewers a fuller picture of what they are eating and what it would cost an individual with less fortunate living conditions to consume a similar dish. While those living at the poverty line in China would not necessarily choose to purchase such dish, every one of the ingredients in the dish are common to their everyday diet and attainable to those living at the poverty line in the daily food markets. As I went worked through the project, I noticed that even though beef noodles seems like such a simple dish that I could order and purchase without hesitation, I am actually in the minority. Most people in this world, would have to work much harder for that meal than I did in purchasing the dish over a five-minute deciding period.