Culinary Diplomacy: What's Janet Yellen Eating in China?

She ate potentially psychedelic mushrooms on her last visit, and all eyes are on this trip
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2024 2:25 PM CDT
Culinary Diplomacy: What's Janet Yellen Eating in China?
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen attends a press conference in Beijing on Monday. Ever since she ate mushrooms that can have psychedelic effects in Beijing last July, Americans and Chinese have been united in their interest in what Yellen will eat next.   (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Ever since she ate mushrooms that can have psychedelic effects in Beijing last July, Janet Yellen has united Americans and Chinese in wanting to know what she'll eat next. As the AP reports, now that the US Treasury secretary is back in China this week, having stopped in Guangzhou and Beijing, many people are less interested in her travels to rebuild relations between the world's two biggest economies, and more fascinated with what she'll eat next and where. With forays into items that include Sichuan dumplings, Peking duck, mouthwatering chicken, and twice-cooked pork, even Chinese politicians at the highest ranks of the party are taking notice of her popularity on the culinary arts scene, with Premier Li Qiang noting in his welcome address that Yellen's visit has "indeed drawn a lot of attention in society."

  • Her style: Yellen doesn't like partitions keeping her from other diners—making her silver hair highly recognizable. The use of her chopsticks at a restaurant in Guangzhou has also been a particular observation. A social media account run by Chinese state media praised Yellen for holding chopsticks well but added, "as a US official, Yellen needs to know more about China than just food." During a Sunday meeting with Huang Yiping, a dean at Peking University, he joked that China has been watching the news of her dining, to which Yellen interjected: "My chopstick skills!"
  • Those mushrooms: In China, Yellen's very first viral moment happened when she unknowingly ate mushrooms that can become psychedelic when cooked improperly at a Yunnan restaurant during her first trip last July. "Mushroomgate" went viral, and the restaurant has since dedicated part of its menu to Yellen's visit, where diners can order what she ate. She told CNN at the time, "There was a delicious mushroom dish. I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later."
  • A brewski: On Monday evening, Yellen visited Jing-A Brewing Co. in Beijing—co-founded by an American—where she ordered a Flying Fist IPA, a beer made with American hops. She took a sip and called it "excellent."
  • Her real job: Yellen is hoping to make headway on the issue of what she calls Chinese overproduction of solar products, electric vehicles, and lithium-ion batteries that she warns threaten global economic stability if left unchecked.
(More Janet Yellen stories.)

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