The Culture of Food and Drink

Home / Articles Posted by Manuela Zoninsein
Manuela Zoninsein's Image
Manuela Zoninsein 20POSTS

Manuela Zoninsein is a Brazilian-American food, travel and environmental reporter based in Beijing on a Blakemore Fellowship. She loves tasty, healthy, inventive and fun food and appreciates all cuisines, but with explosive growth of middle classes around the world consuming more resource-intensive meals, she’s committed to eating that is sustainable so all can inhabit and imbibe long into the future. Call it a “crop to chopsticks” – not unlike “farm to fork” – approach.

Chinese culinary habits are changing with wealthier lifestyles, including increased meat and refined foods as seen in Western diets but also showing a renewed focus on seasonality, locality, freshness and especially safety. Manuela explores how Chinese cooks and consumers consider the environmental impact of eating, with an eye toward vegetarian and traditional dining styles as alternatives. Her writing explores Chinese cuisine from around the country: current favorites include Yunnan and Shaanxi dishes, though Manuela can crank out rocking yuxiang qiezi 鱼香茄子, mapo doufu 麻婆豆腐 and dan dan mian 担担面 alongside the best Sichuan specialists.

Previously, Manuela served as dining editor for Time Out Beijing and as stringer for the Beijing Bureau of Newsweek. Her writing has appeared in Travel+Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, ClimateWire and New Scientist alongside several regional Asian publications. She recently completed a Master of Science in Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford focusing on sustainable agriculture in the Mainland, the basis of a forthcoming book. For more, check out

Manuela Zoninsein and a Gigi Peng, a friend, take photos of weeds to try to identify them back home. Credit: Courtesy of Manuela Zoninsein

For the last eight months, I have been growing vegetables on a 323-square-foot plot of land rented from a Chinese perma-culture farm on the

Tsinghua University undergrads jostle to order Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuanese specialties in Canteen No. 10 of the Beijing campus. Credit: Manuela Zoninsein

Chinese restaurants, restaurateurs and chefs produce great cuisine, but some of the best food in China can be found in the more than 2,000

An aquaponics set showing how fish and vegetables can grow together, as part of the Food Loop in Beijing. Credit: Manuela Zoninsein

Beijing has been a hotbed of culinary activity since at least as far back as imperial days when localities would dispatch their best chefs

A dinner in Dongbei features regional specialties. Credit: Manuela Zoninsein

When dinnertime rolls around, cuisine from China's northeast -- called Dongbei -- generally gets short shrift. Throughout the mainland, citizens prefer to seek out

Baijiu expert Derek Sandhaus. Credit: Mike Tsang

Derek Sandhaus is the author of "300 Shots at Greatness: A race to the bottom of the bottle," a blog detailing his adventures learning

Jingkelong supermarket on Tianshuiyuan Lu in Chaoyang District, Beijing. Credit: Manuela Zoninsein

Chinese supermarkets are an all-encompassing sensorial experience and can be quite overwhelming unless you know how to navigate them. After seven years of exploring


Maison Boulud has held its ground as one of the best-regarded high-end dining destinations in Beijing since opening a couple of months before the


Communist writing tends to be dry and not food-inspired literature. So it is surprising that Lu Xun, one of China's most famed 20th-century authors