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Halal food going down a treat in Asiad host city

11-26-2010 11:14 BJT Special Report:Guangzhou Asian Games |

Muslims and non-Muslims alike are developing a taste for the halal food being served at the Athlete's Village, and at hotels and restaurants in Guangzhou on the sidelines of the Asian Games.

"We haven't received any complaints - except for people saying they wished we would expand the number of Muslim restaurants we have (because they're so popular)," said Chen Jiawen, an official from the Guangzhou economic and trade commission, at a press conference on Thursday.

The Grand Palace Hotel in Tianhe district, which is accommodating about 30 Muslim technical officials from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), had to expand its restaurant to meet demand.

"It had to do this because so many non-Muslim officials were being drawn to its traditional and delicious halal food," said Chen.

The Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (GAGOC) invited 65 senior Muslim chefs to work for the Asian sports gala to cater to more than 3,000 Muslim athletes, officials and related personnel attending the games.

Some 27 of the 45 Asian nations and regions participating in the competition have Muslims as part of their delegations or squads.

Forty-eight of the chefs brought in hail from Qinghai province, 10 come from Beijing and seven are from Wuzhong in Ningxia Hui autonomous region. Half of Wuzhong's population is Muslim.

Chen said some of the athletes were relieved at finding the comforts of home so well laid out for them in a distant land with a completely different culture.

"The Qatari athletes said they felt at home after eating at the Lake Princess Hotel in Huadu district, where the Asian Games' golf competition took place," he said.

One of the hotel's top chefs, 82-year-old Ma Yunqing, he was invited by former premier Zhou Enlai to cook for state banquets in Beijing and for leaders from around the world in the 1950s.

To ensure the athletes remain well fed throughout the 16th Asian Games and the Asian Para Games, which will start two weeks later, Liang Xun, Director of the Athletes' Village's catering service department, purchased 222 tons of meat from other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, GAGOC purchased 27 tons of seafood from Shanghai and 360 tons of vegetables to keep the athletes fighting fit.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: China Daily

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