Noodle Prices Rise, Along With Chinese Tempers – Jim Yardley

From the New York Times (link):

04China184.2One difference between China’s remote west and the rest of the country is what people choose to put in their stomachs. Noodles, not rice, are the favorite dish, none more so than the steaming bowl of beef noodles named after this decaying provincial capital on the Yellow River.

So in February, as noodle patrons across the city arrived for their morning fix, an unexpected notice awaited them: The price of a bowl of pulled beef noodles was going up. A large bowl, once only 27 cents, would now cost almost 31 cents.

“Beef Noodle Price Hike Touches Off Nerves Everywhere!” declared The Western Economic Daily, a feisty local paper.

And so it did. A full-blown noodle controversy arose, with price fixing by a noodle cartel being alleged. Polls gauged public opinion (Answer: not pleased). Even People’s Daily, chief mouthpiece of the Communist Party, registered its indignation. Local officials promised to investigate.

But on the streets of the city’s Anning District, where more than 70 noodle shops are crowded into several square blocks, the noodle contretemps was also a reminder of the millions of Chinese who still live on margins so slender that a bump of 4 cents for a bowl of noodles constitutes real money.

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