Profile: Frenchman gains online popularity out of love for Chinese snacks
CHONGQING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Lucas Colonna, a 25-year-old Frenchman, felt a little lonely when he first arrived in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. At that time, his wife and her family were the only Chinese people he knew and the only Chinese he could speak was "Ni Hao (hello)."
He met his wife in Britain who hailed from Chongqing during an exchange program and their marriage made the French become curious about the far-flung foreign city in China. In 2017, Colonna flied to China in order to learn more about his wife's mother tongue.
After four years of dedicated study, he passed HSK 6, the highest level Chinese language test designed for non-native speakers. Even better, Colonna now has over 1.6 million followers on the short-video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
He and his fans are bonded by the common interest for Chinese snacks, such as "latiao (spicy gluten)," and chicken feet with pickled peppers.
Initially, Colonna just used Douyin to share his daily life for pleasure, which didn't excite viewers' interest much until he sampled a variety of Chinese candies in one video that received an astonishing 8 million views.
"These candies were prepared for children at my home in the Chinese Spring Festival. I happened to notice them on the table, so I shot a video," said Colonna. "I feel amazed that people enjoy seeing this and recommended me to try other Chinese snacks."
For many viewers, these snacks are not just some normal commodities that can be easily found on supermarket shelves, but more as a reminder of their childhood. Colonna feels more connected to Chinese people and culture now that he understands the cultural significance of these foods.
Since then, Colonna has embarked on a culinary adventure that he never views as a money-making job, but rather as an opportunity to communicate his perspectives on Chinese and French culture.
"Exploring Chinese cuisine and culture has no end. Every time I release a new video, I get a deluge of new suggestions from the comments section. I cherish communication with my fans, therefore I devote a lot of time to responding to their comments," he explained.
To Colonna, the experience on the short-video platform is just another surprise China gives to him. Before he came to Chongqing, he never thought Chinese life could be so entertaining, convenient, and safe.
The thing that impressed him and his family most was the burgeoning nightlife in Chongqing, which includes barbecue stalls, public square dancing, bars, karaoke, and so on.
Meanwhile, Lucas felt he achieved some unfinished dreams in China. He always aspired to be an actor back in France, however, it didn't work out. While he studied in Chongqing, he had been the representative of international students to perform at the Chongqing Spring Festival Gala for three consecutive years. Now, he also has an online platform to display himself.
"I just feel I am so lucky. Just like Chongqing's nights which never sleep, China never stops surprising me and giving me new opportunities," said Colonna. "I hope I can have more opportunities to engage myself in presenting Chinese culture in the future."