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Like so many home cooks in quarantine, after I’ve used up the green tops of my scallions, I drop the white, hairy roots into a glass of water to regenerate, feeling pleased with my own sense of thrift and pragmatism.
和許多隔離中的家庭廚師一樣,蔥的綠色部分用完後,我會把長著根須的蔥白放進一杯水裡重新生長,為自己的節儉務實感到欣喜。
But last week, after the Chinese internet star Li Ziqi posted a new cooking video to YouTube called “The Life of Garlic,” I wished I could graduate from scallions on the windowsill.
但上週,中國網路明星李子柒在YouTube上發布了一段名為《蒜的一生》(The Life of Garlic)的烹飪影片後,我真希望自己能早點從窗檯上種蔥這個階段畢業。
In the 12-minute video, which already has over seven million views, Ms. Li pushes garlic cloves into a patch of earth outside her home. A time lapse shows the sprouts growing, reaching up toward the sky.
在這段12分鐘、瀏覽量已超過700萬次的影片中,李子柒把蒜瓣鋪在她家外面的一塊土地上。隨著時間流逝,蒜苗開始生長,伸向天空。
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Ms. Li sautées the young, fresh green garlic shoots with pork. When she harvests the bulbs, she plaits the stems, hanging them up to finish the drying process, pickling and preserving the rest, and using some to season chicken feet and dress salad.
李子柒用新鮮的青蒜苗炒豬肉。收穫蒜頭之後,她把莖稈編成辮子,掛起來晾乾,剩下的用來腌漬和保存,用其中一些給雞爪和拌菜調味。
Ms. Li, who lives in a village in Sichuan Province and rarely speaks to press, looks not unlike a Disney princess in her crown braids, wearing a silvery fur cape, trudging gracefully in the snow. At 29, she is famous for her mesmerizing videos of rural self-sufficiency, posted on Weibo and YouTube.
李子柒住在四川省的一個小村莊裡,很少接受媒體採訪。她梳著皇冠辮子,身穿銀色毛皮斗篷,在雪地裡優雅行走,看上去就像迪士尼的公主。29歲的她因為在微博和YouTube上發布自給自足的農村生活的迷人影片而出名。
For a worldwide audience in isolation, her D.I.Y. pastoral fantasies have become a reliable source of escape and comfort.
對於世界各地隔離中的觀眾來說,她這種一切自己動手的田園幻想,已經成為逃避和安慰的可靠來源。
I usually plan to watch one — just one — but then I let the algorithm guide me to another, and another, until, soothed by bird song and instrumentals, I’m convinced that I’m absorbing useful information from Ms. Li about how to live off the land.
我通常只打算看一個影片——就看一個——但之後就放任算法指引我再看一個,然後再看一個,直到在鳥鳴和樂曲的撫慰下,確信自己從她那裡學到了不少如何靠土地為生的有用信息。
If I’m ever stuck with two dozen sweet potatoes, I now have some idea how to extract the starch and use it to make noodles. This is what I tell myself. Leave me alone in a lotus pond, and I know how to harvest and prepare the roots.
如果我曾經對著兩打紅薯不知所措,現在我已經知道應該如何用它們來提取澱粉並且做粉條了。我對自己這麼說。就算一個人在荷塘裡,我也知道該怎麼採獲和收拾蓮藕
Ms. Li doesn’t explain anything as she goes. In fact, she tends to work in silence, without the use of any modern kitchen gadgets. Her sieve is a gourd. Her grater is a piece of metal that she punctures, at an angle, then attaches to two pieces of wood. Her basin is a stream, where she washes the dirt from vegetables.
李子柒的影片裡不做任何解釋。事實上,她喜歡安靜地工作,不使用任何現代廚房設備。她的篩子是葫蘆做的。她的刨絲器是一塊金屬片,自己穿了一些斜孔,固定在兩塊木頭上。小溪就是她的盆子,她在那裡清洗蔬菜上的污垢。
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Her kitchen is nothing like mine, in Los Angeles. But watching Ms. Li on my laptop, while eating a bowl of buttered popcorn for dinner, I think maybe I could be happy living like that, too, soaking in the sheer natural beauty of the countryside, devoting myself to extremely traditional ways of cooking.
她的廚房跟我在洛杉磯的廚房完全不一樣。但是一邊用筆記型電腦看李子柒,一邊吃著奶油爆米花當晚餐,我想我或許也可以像她那樣快樂地生活,沉浸在鄉村純粹的自然之美當中,忠誠地使用極為傳統的烹飪方式。
Ms. Li makes peach blossom wine and cherry wine, preserves loquats and rose petals. She makes fresh tofu, and Lanzhou-style noodle soup with a perfectly clear broth, and ferments Sichuan broad bean paste from scratch. She butchers ducks and whole animals.
李子柒釀造桃花酒和櫻桃酒,保存枇杷和玫瑰花瓣。她製作新鮮豆腐和湯汁清澈的蘭州拉麵,還從零開始發酵四川豆瓣醬。她宰殺鴨子和整隻的動物。
She is not known for taking shortcuts. A video about matsutake mushrooms begins with her building the grill to cook them, laying the bricks down one at a time, scraping the mortar smooth, then hunting for mushrooms in the woods.
她的出名不是靠急功近利。在一段關於松茸的影片裡,她先是搭起烤松茸的烤架,一塊一塊地把磚頭壘起來,刮平灰漿,然後在樹林裡搜尋蘑菇。
In a video about cooking fish, she first goes fishing, in the snow, patiently throwing back any catches that are too small, as snowflakes freeze into her hair.
在一段關於燜魚的影片裡,她先是去釣魚,在雪中耐心地把太小的魚扔回去,雪花在她的頭髮裡凍結。
Like the main character in some kind of post-apocalyptic novel, Ms. Li is almost always alone, though she doesn’t seem lonely, riding her horse through fields of wildflowers, or carrying baskets of sweet potatoes under citrus trees. She seems tireless, focused, confident, independent.
就像某些末世後小說中的主人公一樣,李子柒幾乎總是一個人,不過她似乎並不孤獨,她騎馬穿過野花叢中,或者提著一籃一籃的紅薯站在橘花樹下。她似乎不知疲倦,專注,自信,獨立。
The videos are deeply soothing. But it’s not just that — they reveal the intricacy and intensity of labor that goes into every single component of every single dish, while also making the long, solitary processes of producing food seem meaningful and worthwhile.
這些影片讓人深感慰藉。但是不僅如此——它們揭示了每道菜所有組成部分中傾注的複雜而密集的勞動,同時也讓漫長而孤獨的生產過程顯得有意義和有價值。
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It’s the complete opposite of most cooking content, the kind that suggests that everything is so quick and easy that you can do it, too, and probably in less than 30 minutes.
這與大多數烹飪內容完全相反,那些內容暗示著一切都是那麼簡單快速,你也可以做到,而且可能用不了30分鐘。
But Ms. Li also romanticizes the struggles of farm life, and, as any savvy influencer would, monetizes that appeal. In her online shop, she sells a curved cleaver, similar to the ones she uses in her videos, as well as loose Hanfu-inspired linen clothing, Sichuan ginseng honey and chile sauces.
但是李子柒也浪漫化了農村生活的掙扎,而且像任何精明的網紅一樣,她也將這種魅力變現。她的網店裡出售一種彎刀,類似於她在影片中使用的那種,還有以漢服為靈感設計的寬鬆亞麻服裝、四川參蜜和辣椒醬。
李子柒用紅薯提取澱粉做成麵糊,製作傳統粉條,然後在祖母幫助下過濾,放進沸水中。
李子柒用紅薯提取澱粉做成麵糊,製作傳統粉條,然後在祖母幫助下過濾,放進沸水中。
Skeptics are suspicious of her access to YouTube in China, where the platform is blocked. And though it seems unlikely, some people have wondered in the comment sections if her videos are propaganda.
心存質疑的人覺得奇怪,她為什麼能在中國訪問YouTube,因為該平台在那裡被屏蔽。雖然看起來不太可能,但評論區有些人懷疑她的影片是不是政治宣傳。
Ms. Li’s story, as she tells it, is that she left home as a teenager to find work, but returned to the countryside to take care of her grandmother, then began documenting her life. Though she used to shoot her videos alone, on her phone, she now works with an assistant and a videographer.
按照李子柒自己的說法,她的故事是這樣的:她十幾歲時離家去找工作,後來又回到農村照顧祖母,然後開始記錄自己的生活。雖然以前都是一個人拍影片,但現在她有了一個助手和一名攝像師。
“I simply want people in the city to know where their food comes from,” Ms. Li said, in a rare interview with Goldthread last fall. (She never responded to my requests.)
「我只想讓城裡的人知道,他們吃的食物是從哪裡來的,」去年秋天,李子柒在罕見地接受Goldthread採訪時說。(她始終沒有回應我的採訪請求。)
But most of the world’s food, whether in China or the United States, doesn’t come from anyone’s backyard, and isn’t made from scratch. Noodles are produced and packaged in factories. Chickens and pigs are gutted on fast, dangerous lines.
但是,不管在中國還是美國,世界上的大部分食物都不是來自任何人的後院,也不是從零開始製作的。麵條是在工廠裡生產和包裝的。雞和豬在快速、危險的流水線上被宰殺。
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The fragility of our industrial supply chains, and the immense risks for the people who work in commercial plants and slaughterhouses, have been laid bare in the last few weeks.
我們工業供應鏈的脆弱性,以及在商業工廠和屠宰場工作的人們所面臨的巨大風險,在過去幾週中都暴露無遺。
Ms. Li sidesteps the existence of that broken system entirely. This is the powerful fantasy of her videos right now — people growing and cooking all of their own food, not wasting anything, and not needing anything more than what they already have around them.
李子柒完全迴避了這個殘缺體系的存在。這是她的影片在當下提供的最有力的幻想——人們自己種植和烹飪食物,不浪費任何東西,不需要太多身外之物。
In isolation, watching Ms. Li gather rose petals and ripe tomatoes, I catch myself thinking, is this sequence set in the past, or the future? Are these videos a record of the collective food knowledge we’ve already lost, or an idealized vision of its recovery?
在隔離中,看著李子柒獨自採摘玫瑰花瓣和成熟的番茄的影片,我不禁思忖,這一切的背景是過去還是未來?這些影片是關於我們已失去的集體食物知識的記錄,還是對其復興的理想化願景?