By ROXANNE YU
You can easily tell the difference between a well-written food article from one that is poorly composed. It’s not enough for the photos on the screen to make your mouth water.
“Eat like a local: 10 Chinese dishes you can’t miss in Xi’an.” It’s not hard to agree that seeing an article like on CNN will just make you want to scroll down. Knowing the Chinese, who have a reputation of eating all sorts things, dogs, chicken feet, turtle soup — you name it, the article doesn’t seem too appealing.
Not everyone can write about food. It’s one thing for a photographer to take a photo of an appetizing meal and allow the picture speak for itself, but it’s a completely different undertaking for a writer to transcribe the smell, taste and savory of the dish by making it seem as though it’s right before the reader’s eyes.
As disappointing as the title may sound, the content surely made up for the mundane nature of the headline. Even before the lead comes to the reader’s view, there are 10 pictures that set the tone of the article. There was nothing too exotic that could be outside the range of an American who has only ever come close to Chinese food by means of ordering from the nearest Panda Express.
The lead immediately catches the attention of the readers. The writer, Shen Lu, opens with the statement, “The Terracotta Army may be the most famous landmark in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, but the Shaanxi capital’s array of noodles, breads and dumplings are the tastiest way to be transported back to ancient China.” The tone is engaging, and the message captivating.
As Lu proceeds with her article, she lists one local delicacy at a time, describing what the food is made of, how it will be served and eaten, and she also includes the address of where it is best served at. If there happens to be contact information of the restaurant, she does not fail to list it too.
I’ve tried to save the best for last — the food (and juice) that she has included in her list of 10. Among the few things that are part of the list are Xi’an meat burger, soupy dumpling, cold noodles and pomegranate juice. In order to cater to the American audience, she carefully describes how a certain delicacy is similar to a specific American-made food. She also inserts the Pinyin (system of writing Mandarin Chinese using the Latin alphabet) translation of the dishes.
The article is written with colloquial language to keep the readers engaged. Lu also managed to keep the description written under every dish short, but informative. To cap it all off, how can the article get any worse to know that all the dishes are affordable and easily accessible (in China, of course!).