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Bon appetite

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-14 08:46

Bon appetite
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Items featured on the show have seen their sales skyrocket within a short time of being aired.

In the first season, a rare mushroom made its way from a Tibetan forest into an upmarket coastal city restaurant.

The difficulty in collecting the elusive fungus meant an eye-watering price on the menu. As well as its fantastic taste, the filmmakers probably quite rightly considered the livelihood of the collectors when they highlighted that particular delicacy.

But it still had an unexpected fallout: So many people (the rich, of course) were alerted to it, that demand shot up and the fragile ecosystem where it grows is now threatened.

In Season 2, which has just ended, the show switched its focus to items more affordable to everyone. No longer were rare delicacies the main attraction, and so maybe gastronomic enthusiasm has been dampened slightly.

For many, curiosity remains the main driving force behind high-end Chinese cuisine.

Some seek out rare plants and animals in the name of gaining better health benefits, or delectability.

But I challenge that.

I have been enticed to try a few such rare delicacies in my time, and the truth be told, they are often not as delicious as billed.

On a trip to Hainan, one fish I was sold for 10 times the price of a regular one was not half as tasty as the lesser option.

No, it is the inaccessibility that raises the perceived value of some items.

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