Category Archives: Culture

Parnell Street’s Chinese community

 

Chinese Community Parnell Street 001.jpgUrban blight, neglected and abandoned Georgian buildings, and poor quality streetscape have long bedevilled the character of Parnell Street East, which is just off the northeast end of Dublin‘s O’Connell Street, a street apparently forgotten by Dublin City Council planners.

Chinese Community Parnell Street 008.JPG

Be that as it may, the presence of Asian supermarkets, hair salons, internet cafes, sidewalk fruit and vegetable stalls,  noodle houses, and restaurants all with their own distinctive signage also testify to Parnell Street East’s organic development over the past 20 years as an ethnic precinct.

Chinese Community Parnell Street 003

Indeed, in many ways the bustle of daily life on Parnell Street East, the focal point for the largest concentration of the Chinese immigrants living and working in Dublin, resembles a typical Chinese (mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong included) street. The shops and restaurants provide important social gathering places for the Chinese community, while Dublin’s discerning foodies are more and more drawn to its ever expanding rich diversity of authentic and delicious Chinese and Asian eateries.

This orientation as an ethic precinct adds up to a civic asset that could be capitalised upon to incite economic growth, tourism and opportunities for new immigrants. Hitherto, Dublin City Council has yet to recognise this ethnic area as a civic asset, which sets our capital city apart from other significant international cities, such as London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris, all of which have distinguished multi-cultural Chinatown districts.

Chinese Community Parnell Street 016

The completion of the Luas Cross City single track loop, with a Parnell Luas tram stop located in front of Marlborough House, will be an essential element in the regeneration of the precinct. It also presents Dublin City Council with a unique opportunity to build, following consultations with the Chinese and other local community stakeholders, on the ethnic character of the street by creating a vibrant district of local businesses and traders that consolidates the distinctive ethnic diversity of the precinct.

Plant more trees, consider making a space for an oriental style park or garden, play to the strengths of the street and its community. Above all talk to the residents who have reinvented Parnell Street East.

The photographs above depicting every day life on Parnell Street were shot over a two days period, March 4th and March 5th 2017 (Copyright @ Niall J. O’Reilly 2017)

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Land of three smiles: Today the Thai military seized power…

… and the opening ‘here we go again’ reactions of Khun Somchai?

Smile 1  

ยิ้มแหยะแหยะyim yae-yae”  : – The “I know things look pretty bad, but there is no point in crying over spilt milk” smile

“… no TV… They plan to bore us to death. But I’ve got tons of books.” (Source: My friend Ataporn Y.)

One of the first acts of the creepy Orwellian-sounding National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC), or the Military Junta, was to suspend radio and television broadcasting.

Bangkok Post 22 May  2014 Military Seizes Power

Smile 2

ยิ้มสู้  yim soo” :- The “it can’t get any worse than it already is therefore I better smile” smile.

“I think it will be better” (Source: My friend Kitiya K)

… no doubt hoping with this nineteenth military coup since 1932 that the end-game of the political crisis which has paralysed Thailand‘s political system is now in play.

Unfortunately, with Thailand now being controlled by a council of unelected officials, the illusion that what you wish for becomes true in this instance doesn’t augur well.  

Smile 3

ยิ้มคัดค้านyim thak thaan” :–  The “I disagree with you” smile.

Largely rural and working-class Red Shirts are not in any mood for compromise, once again feeling embittered that their popular mandate and Thailand‘s democracy have been stolen without elections, while the military junta will very likely suppress any defiance with force.

Thailand National Peace and Order Maintaining Council

Is your television watching you?

Within the near-term quietness it seems the risks to Thailand are intensifying.

Thailand's 19th Military Junta

Thailand‘s 19th Military Junta

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Cringe-worthy awkward moments (gaffes) when Irish politicians and media expose China ignorance

1. Language skills

Leo Varadkar - ChinaActually, Ireland in Chinese has three syllables… Ai Er Lan… Just like home indeed Mr. Minister for Tourism and Transport!!

2. Geography

Awkward Moments

Awkward moment here for Irish Independent writer Donal Lynch…. The photo is of Taipei’s 101 Tower in Taiwan, not mainland China… so much for thorough desk research, checking sources and all that.

3. Exaggeration

Ireland's Food and Drink Agency, Bord Bia, promotes Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore to Prime Minister (总理) in China food promotion

Ireland’s Food and Drink Agency, Bord Bia, promotes Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore to Prime Minister (总理) in  St. Patrick’s Day China food promotion

4. Impressions

You Irish velly gud at software

– The remarkable comment in 2011 by leader of Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fail, Ireland’s catch all centrist populist party.

5. Pretending

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji’s visit to Ireland in September 2001:

“I really wish the prime minister Ahern Bertie would stop saying ‘tanks tanks tanks’. He’s overdoing this Tiananmen protest stuff.”

Source: Torture of a Chinese PM http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/torture-of-a-chinese-pm-26250637.html

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China – Under The Hood: Would you dine at this Chinese restaurant?

Dandong Arirang Chinese Restaurant Customer Charter

    1. RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT AND STAFF WILL NOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, OR MENTAL HARM CAUSED TO CUSTOMERS ARISING FROM CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS ABOUT FOOD OR SERVICE.
    2. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE FOOD.
    3. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SERVICE.
    4. DO NOT COMPLAIN.

Would you eat at this Chinese restaurant?…. These are just the waitresses preparing for another grueling day waiting tables. After watching this video.

If I still had an appetite, I’d probably do Take Away!

[The Dandong Arirang Restaurant, is located in the city of Dandong in north east China‘s Liaoning Province. Dandong, a riverside city provides revealing views of North Korea from across the Yalu River]

It is not an uncommon sight to witness pre-work team-building on the streets outside hairdressers and restaurants all over China, such as shown in this video clip of  a Shanghai hairdresser’s attempt to build an efficient, harmonious and productive work group.

Team-building outside Shanghai hairdresser salon

However, what the Dandong Arirang Restaurant video reveals is a glimpse of  ‘China – Under the Bonnet’. Scratching not far below the surface, particularly in north east China among traditional Communist die-hards, will expose political aspirations harking back to the days of Maoist-era social morals.  Doubtless Bo Xilai, the son of BoYibo (one of the Eight Elders of the  Communist Party of China), the deposed Communist Party chief of Chongqing would have considered the Dandong Arirang Restaurant employee work out as being very much in the spirit of his neo-leftist red culture movement. 

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China – Under The Hood: Bewitching – The Four Beauties of Ancient China

China Under The Hood - The Four Beauties of Ancient China

  1. Yang Gui Fei 杨贵妃(719-756, Tang Dynasty), said to have “a face that would make all flowers feel shameful
  2. Wang Zhao Jun 王昭君 (c. first century BC, Western Han Dynasty), said to be “so beautiful as to make flying geese fall
  3. Xi Shi 西施 (c. seventh to sixth century BC, Spring and Autumn Period), said to be “so beautiful as to make swimming fish sink
  4. Diao Chan 貂禅(c. third century, Three Kingdoms Period), said to have “a face that would make the full moon hide behind the clouds

Now every man, whether single or married, would do well to learn the four wonderfully descriptive sentences used to describe the Four Beauties of Ancient China, which can be summed up in four words: ‘Chen yu luo yan‘ 沉鱼落雁 (“Sinking fish. Falling geese”).  

Certainly, girlfriends and wives would be thrilled to hear their man whisper such words over a candle-lit “Best Burger in Hangzhou” dinner at McDonald’s.

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China – Under The Hood: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Yesterday’s autumnal afternoon was typical of late: drizzling, murky and, if you found yourself in the middle of Hangzhou’s snarling traffic, chaotic. Thanks to a very impressive and convenient public bicycle system, I was cycling along minding my own business when, without warning, a real nasty piece of work, the local equivalent of a Hell’s Angel on an electric-bicycle, the ultimate street menace, tried to squeeze in front of the metre distance separating my pedal bicycle and the plastic bollard dividing our bicycle lane from the regular traffic lane. Unluckily for me his sudden, impulsive, totally devoid of conscience, maneuver was never going to work and I came off much worse in what was another surreal Hangzhou moment.

Within a flash there’s spread-eagled me and a mangled bicycle sprawled on the grimy black surface. The first thought to enter my mind was whether I should get up and strangle him? Meanwhile, the peloton of E-bikes and bicycles behind me had stopped. Waiting in readiness:

Urchin, with the jumpy smile, and everyone else from ‘rent a crowd’, was impassively staring at me waiting for me to pick myself up. Not one helping hand 漠不关心 (‘mo bu guan xin’ or “completely unmoved or indifferent) as I lay there.

Amid the spectators and the ‘raring to go’ din of more and more impatient bicycle bells, honking e-bike and motorised tricycle horns and blackboard screeching brakes no more than two or three metres behind me, I could hear the repeated words “你看他是老外!”, or simply “老外!” (‘ni kan ta shi lao wai’ a derogatory term for “foreigner”, “look he’s a foreigner!”).

As soon as I managed to shove the bicycle a few inches out of the way with my foot the horde was once again on the move, cautiously filing through the narrow gap I had created, all wearing the same sheepish gaze I have witnessed so many times while living in China: The ‘Three Wise Monkeys’ code of silence ― ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.’ What happens to a stranger outside their immediate comfort zone of family and friends is none of their business, so best to flee rather than be blamed for any injuries the “老外” lao wai may have sustained.

No doubt I’d be the topic of conversation amid the cacophony of slurps over their next bowl of noodles. Now looking back, I am rather surprised that for added conversational embellishment one of the quick thinking onlookers didn’t have the ‘cop on’ to take out her iPhone and snap a photo of me sprawled on roadside with wrecked bicycle. On second thoughts such an exercise would have risked losing the Teacup Poodle peeking out of her designer handbag. In any case, I seriously doubt that any conversation about me would have decried the pathetic apathy or laziness of the renmin who left me on the ground, not bothering to offer any assistance: 漠不关心.

China Under The Hood - Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil - Something like 1,000,000 electric bicycles stalk the streets of Hangzhou

Something like 1,000,000 electric bicycles stalk the streets of Hangzhou

As for me I finally made my way to the hospital.

I couldn’t wrap up this exposé from the harmonious society of Hangzhou without a special mention about local hospitality as witnessed yesterday: Mind numbing, really touching indeed. It certainly gives a special resonance to the recent incident down in Foshan City where little Wang Yue was run over by two vans and ignored by 18 passers-by http://wp.me/p15Yzr-jJ.

The ethic of the jungle ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,’ looking out for yourself, may have been expedient in the dark days of Mao Zedong’s revolution. However, here in a China subjected to dramatic economic and social changes in nearly all aspects of life on an unprecedented scale, the gazes of indifference and lack of compassion for a fellow human being, as witnessed yesterday, patently reveal a public engulfed by a great moral vacuum, empty of imagination, hope and of any future… not really the hallmarks of a harmonious society.

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China – Under The Hood: Time for ‘Wang Yue’s Law’ – the criminality of indifference

The tragic death of little Wang Yue  (“Yue Yue”) from Foshan, who died days after being hit by vans and ignored by witnesses (source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15398332) is truly a dreadful story that will likely (in addition to the Wenzhou subprime crisis and the horrible child kidnapping stories of late) be used as a political weapon by power struggling leaders in Beijing who have gathered to focus on “proposing new ideas for reform and development culture into the 21st century”, basically planning the future cultural direction of China. That’s for sure. And the quickest assumption they’ll come to? Blame all the nastiness on negative western influences…they use the word “destructive“. Well  these troubles have nothing to do with destructive western influences. At the heart of these stories is the thinking “I don’t give a damn about anyone else except me“, and that, I’m afraid, is both an educational issue and SYSTEM issue…. A system that doesn’t observe basic human values is a broken system.

"Mo Bu Guan Xin" means "indifferent"

“Mo Bu Guan Xin” means “indifferent”

Yet, from such a tragedy there has to be a positive, something constructive… and there is: the massive outpouring of anger in China at the indifference. The vast majority of Chinese people care. Like the rubbish collector, they have a heart and a conscience. Right? Otherwise how can a society function? In every country in the world, including my own, equal horrors arise followed by plenty of brow-beating and introspection.

Readers in the USA and UK will be familiar with Megan’s Law and Sarah’s Law respectively. Both girls were murdered by child killers, and following campaigns by their families the laws were changed to protect children. While the Wang Yue tragedy is under a different set of circumstances, nonetheless let’s hope a Wang Yue Law will punish the indifference to helping a fellow human-being in distress. China is waking up not just in an economic sense, but more importantly, social sense.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

Martin Luther King

Wang Yue Foshan China Hit and Run

Source / read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15398332

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Chinese Idiom: 天下乌鸦一般黑

Tiānxià wūyā yībān hēi –  which roughly translates as follows: “crows everywhere are equally black”  or, as taken from the classic Dream of Red Mansion (composed by  Cao Xueqin) : “One crow is no whiter than another; under the sun crows are usually black”

An often used idiom used in China when referring to Government corruption the world over.

Tiānxià wūyā yībān hēi -  which roughly translates as follows: "crows everywhere are equally black"

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The subtle Irish art of winning Chinese hearts and minds: Irish Pub culture takes off in China

The subtle Irish art of winning Chinese hearts and minds: Irish Pub culture takes off in China

China Government officials and businessmen enjoying the craic with pints of Guinness in O’Donoghues Pub Merrion Row Dublin

Hooley’s in Guangzhou; Danger Doyle’s, The Volunteer, Paddy O’Shea’s and PJ O’Reilly’s  (and quite a few more) in Beijing; Delaney’s and Dublin Jack’s in Hong Kong (and quite a few more); Druid’s Irish Pub in Yantai;  O’Reilly’s in Ningbo; The Shamrock Irish Pubs in Ningbo, Hangzhou and Chengdu; Finnegan’s Wake Irish Pub, in Nanjing; Mulligans in Shenyang; The Irish Pub in Xiamen; O’ Malley’s Irish pubs in Changsha and Qingdao; The Speakeasy Irish Bar in Taipei (and quite a few more); Irish Bar, Macau; Green Molly in Xian; The Ennafort Irish Pub in Jinan, Back Garden Irish Pub in Guilin; The Dublin Irish Pub in Tianjin, The Toucan Irish Pub in Wuhan; The Harp Irish bar in Chongqing; McCawley’s Irish Pub in Shenzhen….. (have been doing a bit of research on the topic!! Unfortunately, I’ve only visited about half the pubs on the list)

There’s probably double, or even triple the number of Irish Pubs on Mainland China, in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, especially if you include the hotel chains: All spreading the word that Ireland has a friendly, relaxing and fun-loving culture, whether it’s good music, the perfect pint and good food, in a clean atmosphere: All Irish pubs in China are true Ambassadors of Irish culture.

What’s particularly noteworthy is the fact Irish pubs have been opened by pioneering Irish businessmen and women who have lived on Mainland China, in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau for a long while. They know their stuff and all the gossip about what’s going on in their area. Chinese businessmen and women who have lived and studied in Ireland are also opening Irish pubs as well.

What an excellent source of business intelligence for all businessmen and women from Ireland looking to development business in China.

A role for Irish Government agencies / Embassy of Ireland in Beijing?

Sure.

  • Draw up a full list of Irish Pubs in China
  • Promote the creation of an Irish Pub in China association
  • Encourage initiatives supportive of Irish business interests

For example, encourage the Irish Pubs in each city could set aside a Meeting Room for Irish businessmen and women to host business meetings with Chinese clients during office hours, not just to drink, but to savor the atmosphere. The rooms could be sponsored by an Irish business, or Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, IDA Ireland…

With 50% of China’s population moving into its cities, and 160 cities in China with populations of over one million people, to use the business jargon that Irish Pubs offer “compelling growth” potential for their shareholders, and for the development of Irish business interests in China is an understatement in the extreme.

The “there are no strangers here only friends” mindset associated with Irish Pub culture is clearly becoming a potent weapon in winning Chinese hearts and minds over to genuinely Irish culture, and more.

A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai

A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai

A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai

A seisiún (music making session) at The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, Dongping Road, Shanghai

China Government officials and businessmen enjoying the craic with pints of Guinness in O'Donoghues Pub Merrion Row Dublin

China Government officials and businessmen enjoying the craic with pints of Guinness in O’Donoghues Pub Merrion Row Dublin

Niall O’Reilly

Accurate China Business Services

“Helping Ireland’s Business Do China Business”

http://www.accuratelimited.com

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 152 5719 4468

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China – Under The Hood: A Dog’s Life in China – To Stroke or to Stir Fry?

To Stroke Or To Stir-Fry  - Dog For Food Breeding in China

This ill-fated mongrel dog, horribly compressed into a tiny wire-mesh cage, knows it’s destined for the wok – to be stir-fried! #stopyulin2015

Man’s Best Friend?

Dog lovers will have no problem telling you why the dog is regarded as man’s best friend: Faithfulness, unqualified love, friendship and laughs. By convincing us to be more active, having a dog simply makes our lives better and makes us healthier.

No matter how lethargic we may feel, who can resist Muffin or Flossy or Toby or Buster or Coco when they saunter up to us pleading to go for a walk? Or maybe that wagging tail is an appeal for a gentle rub?

Not only can dogs be incredible friends, but they also give us humans much needed support, as well as affection and companionship: From guiding the blind, to warning the deaf that something needs their attention, to being there for the lonely, dogs are remarkable creatures!

Man’s best friend? Well not for everyone. The photograph above, which I snapped in Du’an in South West China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is particularly upsetting. Typical of the street-wise dogs commonly seen roaming around rural villages and towns the length and breath of China, this bewildered mongrel, compressed into a tiny wire-mesh cage, is destined for a wok – to be stir-fried, or perhaps slow-cooked as a soup or stew, seasoned with spring onion, spices, rice wine and ginger.  The terror in its eyes says everything: This abused dog knows its fate. All dog lovers should be revolted by this image.

The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is infamous for its annual Summer Solstice Yulin Dog Meat Festival 玉林狗肉节 (#stopyulin2015), the most cold-blooded and barbaric festival in the world, where every year 1,000’s of dogs are savagely killed and eaten, the run up to which involves a nefarious trade by dog peddlers in abducted stray and domestic dogs covering the length and breath of China.

What’s wrong with eating dog meat?

Before I start ranting on about the obvious cruelty, it is only fair to point out what I would imagine is the viewpoint of ‘dog for food’ farmers and dog-eaters across China, Korea, the Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

In China, dogs have been reared for their meat since Neolithic times. Farmers see no difference between pig eating and dog eating. The degree of objection lies in the means of rearing, transport, killing and cooking rather than in the choice of animal species. With respect to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival 玉林狗肉节 (#stopyulin2015) locals assert their right to eat dog meat based on traditional custom, stating if they are cruel then what about those who eat pork, beef and chicken?

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dog meat is considered a health food coordinating Yin and Yang. With the Yin character it is considered warming to the body, which is why Chinese tend to eat more dog meat in winter. In Korea the opposite happens, dog meat is eaten mainly during the hot summer months.

The popularity of dog eating is increasing at an explosive rate – evolving rapidly from its traditions as a cottage industry.  While considered expensive compared to other meats, in northern and southern parts of China dog is an exotic banquet dish to be savoured on special occasions, especially when trying to impress your guests. The most recent information available through Google shows 43% of respondents in a Shanghai and Beijing lifestyles survey confirming they eaten dog meat, at least once.

Dog eating is big business

Now it is no longer a case of a few peasant farmers breeding a female dog once a year and taking the grown puppies to the market for a little extra pocket money.

With official local government approval, huge dog farms are being set up across the north and south China using modern scientific factory farming principles.  Faster growing methods and more submissive breeds of dog are being introduced (for example, Saint Bernard mountain dogs) and the whole business is being scaled up with modern distribution and marketing techniques.

Here are the English translations from various websites regarding two Saint Bernard breeding centres in China:

1. Breeding base of Meat-producing Breeding St. Bernard of Lin Xing Raising and Propagating Company of Shanxi, Datong Coal Mining Administration

“For a local coal mine owner faced with financial problems and mine safety issues the production of Saint Bernard mountain dog was a ‘no brainer: In comparison to chicken and pig farming breeders of Saint Bernard mountain dogs can expect to earn three to four times more income”

2. Shenyang Food Dog Research Institute, Shenyang City, Liaoning, China

“The Shenyang Food Dog Research Institute has created over 50 sites with over 6,000 Saint Bernard dogs, which are considered both tender and tasty to eat”

#StopYulin2015

Yulin Dog Meat Festival – The most barbaric festival in the world. #StopYulin2015

What’s been done in China to put an end to this?

Unfortunately, much of the anti-dog meat campaigning is tainted by racial discrimination, as is the resistance to the anti-dog meat campaigning.

Dog for food’ farmers and eaters view anti-dog eating campaign as another example of the conflict between Oriental and Western cultures, arguing that dog eating has gone on for thousands of years. Such campaigns actually cause resentment and ill will among people who have the potential to actually see the “man’s best friend” side of the argument, rather than the protein side, and stop eating them.

The good news is more and more people in China believe that dogs have earned their place in society as companions and helpers – they want the eating of dog meat to end. In May 2011, animal rights activists stopped a truck in Beijing containing 500 dogs destined for the dinner table. Following a stand-off involving over 200 people and a toothless police contingent by the roadside the animal rights activists purchased the dogs from the dog peddling lorry driver for US$18,000. More recently, in the summer of 2014 a dog lover noticed a truck full of dogs packed in open air cages along the Jingha Expressway (Beijing-Harbin Expressway) he alerted netizens on Weibo, China’s leading micro-blogging app. Volunteers quickly coordinated rescue organisations and citizens in many cars and vehicles to encircle the truck. The truck contained 400 dogs; together with four more trucks that were subsequently captured, 2,400 dogs were rescued, the most rescued dogs ever. Most were adopted, while the remainder, after receiving emergency treatment, were sent on to dog shelters in Hebei province. Unfortunately one truck escaped.

While an outright ban on the traditional custom of dog eating, especially with respect to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival 玉林狗肉节 (#stopyulin2015), is unlikely to be effective, as a first step authorities should enforce rigorous controls aimed at ensuring the source of the dog meat is legal and safe. A concentrated effort against those who steal and abuse domestic and stray dogs must also be imposed.

Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan have already banned the practice – this is the example for China to follow.

Stop eating dogs! Stop the Yulin Dog Festival 2015!

Note: Original article was written on June 20, 2011. Latest revisions to this article are dated February 4, 2015

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Filed under China, Chinese, Culture, Dog, Food, Poverty, Taste