Since 2004, China's Ministry of Education has been partnering with universities around the globe to establish in-house institutes devoted to promoting a greater understanding of Chinese culture. There are more than 90 Confucius Institutes in the U.S. (including one at UCLA), but the new Confucius Institute at the University of California, Davis is special: It's the first program devoted to educating students on the culture and practice of Chinese food and beverage.
UC Davis' Confucius Institute has a mission that spans culture, cuisine, and the food and wine trade. It sounds appropriate given California's vast farmlands, UC Davis' award-winning Viticulture and Enology program, and China's new wine frontier.
The mission of the Confucius Institute is to draw upon the food and beverage science and technology strengths of both partner institutions to promote the understanding of Chinese food and beverage culture through facilitating instruction, both in the classroom and beyond. The Institute will also be a valuable platform for communication between the food and wine industries of California and China.
Chef Martin Yan, famous for his Yan Can Cook series on PBS, leads the culinary branch at the new institute, which launches on September 21. He says of the new program: "UC Davis is the world leading insitution in the study of food and fermentation ... I think Confucius Insitute has arrived on the perfect platform for us to understand the food of the East and the West ... [It's] not only for the faculty and student body at UC Davis, it's for the community ... I hope everybody will come [here] to enjoy good food and good wine, as Confucius has been practicing for thousands of years."
In a release, UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi expressed pride in the program's ability to "prepare our students for global citizenship and enrich the diversity of our community." Xi Jinping, president of China, wrote to Katehi, "Learning each other's language and culture will be helpful to enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and American people and to promote the growth of China-U.S. relations."
Breaking bread—or bao—never sounded so good.
The public is invited to a grand opening ceremony to be held at the university on Monday, September 16. For Angelenos interested in taking a day trip up to Davis, complete details can be found on the institute's website.