Conimex Beijing ad

23Jun08

Nooooooo, you can’t be serious!!!! I thought, wachting the newest tv-ad for the well-known brand of Conimex (Unilever), a huge producer of Asian convenience foods in the Netherlands. This brand has been around locally since the 1950s, when Conimex started to cater for the growing demand in ingredients for the cuisine of the former colony of Indonesia. Conimex has been selling Indonesian ground spices in small jars, spice mixtures (bumbus) and sweet soy sauces (kecap) for decades now, but have recently strengthened their share of the Dutch market by selling convenience packets of Indian, Malay, or otherwise Asian flavorings, like sauce mixes for stir-frying and new inventions for cooking, like ‘wok oil’.

The newest Conimex ad features two men – probably famous Dutch sportsmen (although I don’t who they are) roaming about Beijing for the Olympics. The main sports guy walks on Tian’anmen square, while the voice over says : “As a sportsman, eating well is really important. That’s why I buy fresh produce at the local market.”

We see him heading to this farmer’s market, where there are red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and red, green and yellow Dutch glasshouse peppers on display. Our sportsman is bargaining hard for one cauliflower (a true Dutch vegetable), pays 5 yuan for it, gets himself some spring onions, and hurries home to his Beijing appartment with his shopping bag.

When he passes a rickshaw puller enjoying a bowl of noodles, the sportman says: ” They are, like us, crazy about Chinese food, but … I’d rather cook it by myself! That’s why I take as much as I can from Holland, including Conimex”. He comes home, plonks his bags in the kitchen, greets the second (sports)man sitting on a couch reading the paper, then opens up the pantry, takes out a packet of ready-to-wok rice, a packet of sweet-and-sour sauce, and starts to chop up the red bell pepper on a chopping board.

He heats a wok, and in 5 seconds, he mixes the pepper and chicken (?) with the cooked rice (the cauliflower and spring onions have disappeared), puts in green peas, pours a sweet and sticky looking sauce over his fried rice, and takes two flat plates to the couch where he and his friend enjoy the view of the new ‘bird’s nest’ stadium. He sighs happily and says: “Just like home, but don’t forget: they use chopsticks here…”

I was really jumping up and down in front of my tv screen at this moment. Nooo nooo nonooooo !!! You stupid man! How can you take your own bloody rice from Holland and your sweet and sour sauce, which have nothing to do with Beijing, and cook this plainest of Chinese foods, FRIED RICE for God’s sake!, by yourself, while on the streets of Beijing, everywhere, at every street corner, in every restaurant, for a price way cheaper than your own imported fake Dutch package stuff, you will eat more delicious food than the two of you will ever dream to have when you insist on ‘cooking’ in your appartment?

The commercial is, however, well made, and quite funny in its stupid way. But I don’t think there is any hope for Dutch Chinese cooking. Want to have a look yourself ? The Conimex ad is on YouTube.



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