Hungry American politicians usually look to things like State Fair corn dogs when they're trying to choose a populist meal in U.S. territory. But what do they do when they visit China, where the street food is more exotic, less sterile and at least as culturally charged?
Vice President Joe Biden's strategy, when he visited the People's Republic last week, seemed to be fearlessness.
Biden, for a Thursday lunch meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, visited small Beijing restaurant Yaoji Chaogan. New Yorker China correspondant Evan Osnos writes that the house speciality at the family-run eatery is a stew made with pig liver, intestines and lungs, but that Biden stuck with pork buns, noodles and cucumber. The meal fed five people and cost 79 yuan, or $12.30. Biden apparently paid with 100 yuan note, leaving a 26% tip.
Reactions to the meal in the Chinese media have generally been positive. A few said that it was stingy of Biden to eat at such an inexpensive restaurant, and others were perturbed that Biden hadn't ordered the restaurant's most famous dish. But more have been struck by the fact that the restaurant has gotten a huge surge in popularity since Biden and Xi's visit. People have travelled hundreds of miles to sample what Yaoji Chaogan has started to advertise as the "VP Combo."