Why Flavorful Origins is the best show on Netflix

Chinese cooking, but not as you know it: If you think Chinese cuisine is limited to what you can get at your local Chinese takeaway restaurant, then this show will blow your mind. Did you know you can cook lily bulbs? That you can cook dough in the small intestine of a sheep? And that shepherds in the mountains of Gansu have a traditional method of pressure-cooking? And that’s just the first three episodes.

You won’t get content like this anywhere else: We can access more foreign-language TV content than ever before with modern streaming services – take the opportunity! This show is made on Chinese terms, so you don’t have a Western chef trying to explain what’s going on. It makes for a much better experience. Embrace it.

Diversity: You get to learn about and see some lesser-spotted Chinese provinces – Gansu, Yunnan and Chaoshan (a region of Guangdong) – rather than Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen. These provinces also have lots of ethnic minorities, another interesting thing to learn about. This has interesting consequences for the show itself: The people featured, who are often elderly, are rarely shown talking – perhaps because they don’t speak Putonghua?

Good reviews: If you don’t trust me, then check out the reviews on IMDB. The unhappy reviews mostly seem to have made the mistake of selecting the English narrator, who does sound terrible. Stick with the Chinese narrator and use English subtitles.

Short episodes: Instead of the usual 50-minute Netflix episodes, each Flavorful Origins episode is about 12 minutes long, and is centred around a single food. Unlike dramas, there’s no overarching storyline, and you can dip in and out freely over many weeks if you like.


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