Avocado ice cream and Chinese hot pot are some of the best foods athletes say they’ve eaten at the Beijing Olympics. Some were also eyeing the KFC — but holding until after competition to indulge.
Despite the varied menu at the Olympic Village, the options for athletes are radically more limited this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. To prevent any potential spread of the virus, athletes and all other Olympic participants can only move between designated venues.
That means they can’t venture out of the Olympic “bubble” to sample the local fare.
Here’s what some athletes are eating:
Tessa Maud, Snowboarding (USA)
First-time Olympian Tessa Maud wanted to try “everything” in Beijing, and usually “ordered to much,” as she often said in her TikTok videos detailing her food tours.
While she loved the sweet and sour pork, peking duck, dan dan noodles and fried rice, one of her favorite items was the scallion pancakes, which Maud called “so fire.”
Julia Marino, Snowboarding (USA)
Julia Marino, who took the silver medal in the women’s snowboard slopestyle, has tried lots of different foods in Beijing. But asked what is her favorite meal at the Olympic Village, Marino doesn’t hesitate for a second: dumplings.
“I’ve probably had like 200 dumplings since I’ve been here,” she told NBC in an interview on Jan. 6. “Just so many dumplings. I get back from the mountain – dumplings. It’s the only thing I feel like is consistently always good.”
Julia Marino fills in the blanks about her favorite person she met in Beijing, her favorite food so far and how she passes time in the athletes’ village.
Jenise Spiteri, Snowboarding (Malta)
The San Francisco-born snowboarder representing the European island of Malta — its only athlete and first-ever snowboarder — can’t get enough of the bao buns.
In fact, Spiteri loves them so much she packed a few in her jacket pocket before her first Olympic run in the halfpipe qualifiers. As she waited for her score, Spiteri was seen pulling a half-eaten red bean bun from her pocket and taking a bit bite with a huge smile on her face.
“It’s like my favorite food that we have in the village,” Spiteri said.
She told reporters after the race that she’s been eating then for “breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Adrian Diaz and Olivia Smart, Ice dancing (Spain)
A favorite cited by many athletes is the hot pot, a popular Chinese dish that lets people pick from a variety of raw ingredients like meat, seafood and vegetables to add to a boiling, seasoned pot of broth.
Spanish ice dancing pair Adrian Diaz and Olivia Smart say they’ve been eating it every day at the dining hall.
“I’ve never had hot pot before and it’s one the main dinner things here,” Smart says. “That’s a new discovery for me.””
They have a strategy for deciding which of the many flavorings to pick: “You just take the sauce the person in front you has taken,” Smart says.
Adam Runnalls, Biathlon (Canada)
Runnall has been documenting his time in Beijing on TikTok. The biathlete recently gave his followers a tour of the Olympic Village food hall and shared which food items he’s been enjoying eating.
Like Marino, Runnall is also a fan of the dumplings. And for a taste of the West, this 23-year-old goes for the KFC chicken sandwich, which is “always good.”
Tom Kuhnhackl, Ice hockey (Germany)
Aside from the dumplings, noodles and hot pot, German ice hockey player Tom Kuhnhackl says he’s been indulging his sweet tooth.
“I’m a huge dessert guy. I tried all the desserts,” he says. “All kinds of cakes, all kinds of cookies. They were pretty dynamite.”
Red velvet cake, green tea cake and avocado ice cream are some of the sweets he’s tried.