California-born Maltese snowboarder Jenise Spiteri has gone viral on Chinese social media after she was seen eating a red bean bun on live TV following her run on February 9.
While waiting for her score in the women’s halfpipe qualifiers, she took a quick bite of the steamed bun and gestured the snack to the camera with a smile.
Spiteri, the only Maltese athlete in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and the first-ever snowboarder to represent the country, was later revealed to be a frequent eater of popular Chinese snacks and food since her arrival in China.
“I started eating them on the first day,” she said during an interview with CCTV, referring to the red bean buns. She also told reporters that she eats no fewer than two buns each meal and considers sesame balls her favorite.
My parents went to China Village restaurant in Belmont CA and they told the workers they were my parents and the workers knew who I was and brought out a box of sesame balls to bring home for me! 🤣🤣 I’m living the good life pic.twitter.com/xSU4NmgN6h— Jenise Spiteri (@jenisespiteri) February 16, 2022
My parents went to China Village restaurant in Belmont CA and they told the workers they were my parents and the workers knew who I was and brought out a box of sesame balls to bring home for me! 🤣🤣 I’m living the good life pic.twitter.com/xSU4NmgN6h
— Jenise Spiteri (@jenisespiteri) February 16, 2022
The hashtag ‘Maltese athlete eats six red bean buns per day’ (#一天6个豆沙包的马耳他运动员#) received 290 million views on Weibo. It was just one of the many hashtags addressing the reception of the food among overseas athletes in the Olympic Village.
U.S. snowboarder Shaun White, a three-time halfpipe gold medalist who just missed the podium this year, said in a TikTok video that eating kung pao chicken and dan dan noodles was his “favorite thing to do” when he wasn’t snowboarding in Beijing.
@shaunwhiteReply to @andrew_m_007 BRB #TikTokPartner #LearnOnTikTok ♬ original sound – Profile
Reply to @andrew_m_007 BRB #TikTokPartner #LearnOnTikTok
♬ original sound – Profile
Meanwhile, the most recent TikTok posts by another American snowboarder, Tessa Maud, turned into a mini-series showcasing a broad spectrum of her culinary experiences during the Games.
“The food might be tricky for some people, but there’s always something you can eat, something you can find that’s going to be better than the cafeteria,” she told Business Insider.
Thumbnails of some of Maud’s food-related posts. Screengrab via TikTok
However, the food in the quarantine facilities is allegedly far from the same quality as that in the Olympic Village.
Russian athlete Valeria Vasnetsova slammed organizers early in the Games for what she described as inedible and repetitive food.
Russian athlete Valeria Vasnetsova posted this photo on Instagram.She says that the same meal has been served at the Winter Olympics in Beijing for "breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days already." pic.twitter.com/AspgWEqutb— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) February 7, 2022
Russian athlete Valeria Vasnetsova posted this photo on Instagram.
She says that the same meal has been served at the Winter Olympics in Beijing for "breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days already." pic.twitter.com/AspgWEqutb
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) February 7, 2022
“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale, and I have huge black circles around my eyes,” she wrote in her since-deleted Instagram post.
Vasnetsova’s concerns generated buzz on social media and were picked up by publications such as CBS, Time, and The Daily Mail.
Previously, non-athletics-related Olympic topics, like the mascot Bing Dwen Dwen and the citizenship status of US-born skier Eileen Gu, have also gone viral on China’s social media.
Cover photo via Depositphotos
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