CHINESE IN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS: Families pay $40,000 to an education consultancy to get their children enrolled in a public high school in Michigan. The ultimate goal is for them to attend a top American university. (NYTIMES)
Roughly 370,000 students from the mainland are enrolled in American high schools and universities, 6x more than a decade ago. Their financial impact — $11.4 billion was contributed to the American economy in 2015. It has turned education into one of America’s top “exports” to China.
83% of China’s millionaires are planning to send their children to school abroad. The average age, according to the poll, has dropped to 16 today from 18 in 2014 — the first time it has reached the high-school level.
In 2005, only 641 Chinese students were enrolled in American high schools. By 2014, that student population approached 40,000 — a 60-fold increase in a single decade — and it now accounts for nearly half of all international high-school students in the United States.
CHINESE IN VEGAS: The first direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, launched Dec. 2 by Hainan Airlines, is viewed as a major step toward the goal the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has set to push international visitation to 30% over the next decade. International visitors currently account for 16% of traffic. (NYTIMES)
WORLD’S HEALTHIEST CUISINE: It turns out that countries with big immigrant populations tend to have the greatest diversity—places like the U.S. and Australia, for example. These countries have the greatest number of ingredients and the biggest variation between dishes, too.
For example, about half the dishes from the Southeast Asian country of Laos have more than 15 ingredients, whereas half the dishes from Russia have fewer than seven. So the cuisine in Laos is significantly more complex than Russian cuisine.
Countries with large numbers of ingredients on offer tend to have the most complex dishes. Exceptions: Chinese and Indian cuisine both have relatively few ingredients to choose from, but these are used in relatively complex dishes. Perhaps, these countries had or have good chefs that could cook more complex foods with the available ingredients or the cuisine from older cultures in these countries is more complex because it has had longer to evolve.
Peng Chuang-kuei, creator of General Tso’s Chicken (WAPO)
GENERAL TSO:Peng Chang-kuei, a vaunted Hunanese chef was widely credited as the creator of General Tso’s chicken, a dish that evolved into the deep-fried, sticky and unabashedly inauthentic staple of the American Chinese take-out joint.
Mr. Peng said that he devised the recipe for a banquet in the 1950s. He named it in honor of Zuo Zongtang, a celebrated Hunanese general of the 19th century who helped crush the Taiping Rebellion, an uprising that cost tens of millions of lives.
In America, General Tso, like Colonel Sanders, is known for chicken, not war. In China, he is known for war, not chicken.
Mr. Peng’s original recipe called for chicken with bones and skin. The chicken was not fried, and it was served sans the piquantly sweet sauce, relying instead on garlic and soy sauce for flavor. It did have chilies, but no broccoli.
NORCIA BEER: After the Oct. 30 quake, one of the few things left standing at the monastery was a small brewery, where for the past four years the monks have been making Nursia, a beer named for Norcia’s ancient Latin appellation. Their brew may now be the salvation — symbolically, at least — not only of the monks’ sanctuary, but also of Norcia itself.
FAVORITE BEERS AROUND THE WORLD: Americans love Bud Light. in Canada, the beer of choice is Bud Light’s heavier cousin Budweiser. Down in Mexico, people choose Corona most often. In China, beer drinkers down a lager beer called Snow; in India, people like a pale lager called Kingfisher best; in Brazil, the most popular brew is a Pilsner called Skol; and across the ocean, in Australia, it’s a beer called Victoria Bitter.
How to drink beer like a local (WAPO)
LUXURY TOILET PAPER: Americans have a new favorite way to flush money down the drain: luxury toilet paper. Sales in the United States of what the industry calls “luxury” rolls — anything quilted, lotioned, perfumed or ultra-soft, from two- to four-ply — climbed to $1.4 billion last year, outpacing all other kinds of toilet paper for the first time in nearly a decade.
A roll of luxury toilet paper is stamped with gold in Germany. American luxury toilet paper is softer, thicker and gold-free. (Michael Dalder, Reuters)
WEALFIES: Wealfies are selfies taken in a luxury context that confirm one has money, status and social currency. The paradigmatic wealfie is the image you take of yourself getting on or off a private jet, possibly on your way to New Year’s Eve in Morocco or Anguilla.
But to the extent that people so closely identify with the things that they buy and receive, the picture shot of the Hermès or Chanel or Prada gift “unboxed” and then posted on Instagram is another kind of wealfie. Of course, there are so many ways to broadcast status these days.
FANCY BRANDS WITH FANCY GIBBERISH NAMES: Eager to glaze their products with the sheen of international sophistication, many homegrown retail brands have hit upon a similar formula: Choose a non-Chinese name that gives the impression of being foreign. Some Chinese appear loath to spend their disposable income on locally produced fashions.
Chrisdien Deny, a retail chain with more than 500 locations across China, sells belts, shoes and clothing with an “Italian style” — and a logo with the same font as Christian Dior’s.
Helen Keller, named for the deaf-blind American humanitarian, offers trendy sunglasses and classic spectacles at over 80 stores, with the motto “you see the world, the world sees you.”
Frognie Zila, a clothing brand sold in 120 stores in China, boasts that its “international” selection is “one of the first choices of successful politicians and businessmen” and features pictures on its website of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Venetian canals.
Other apparel brands include Wanko, Hotwind, Scat, Orgee and Marisfrolg (the L is silent)and Biemlfdlkk.
RUNNING OUT OF CHOCOLATE: Last year, the world ate 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. By 2020, that number could swell to 1 million metric tons, a more than 14-fold increase; by 2030, they think the deficit could reach 2 million metric tons.
Dry weather in West Africa (specifically in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced) has greatly decreased production in the region.
A nasty fungal disease known as frosty pod hasn’t helped either.
The International Cocoa Organization estimates it has wiped out between 30% and 40% of global coca production.
CHINA’S BORDEAUX OBSESSION: Chinese investors now own almost 100 chateaus out of the 7,400 wine estates in the Bordeaux region. Shipments of Bordeaux wines to mainland China, their largest export market by volume and value.