American expat sheds light on Rizhao’s rural culture

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RIZHAO, China, Feb. 23, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from

A video of an online foreign foodie influencer purchasing goods at Rizhao’s rural market recently has gained widespread popularity online in China.

What captured the most attention was his fluency in the local Shandong dialect and his sincere embrace of rural customs and traditions.

Ryan Norman, a 40-year-old man from the United States and known by the nickname “Brother Lei”, or “Lei Ge” in Chinese, has resided in Rizhao, a coastal city in Shandong province, for nearly 18 years. During this time, he has developed a deep admiration for the rustic charm of the city’s rural culture.

In December 2022, Norman began sharing his life in Rizhao with his friends via short video platforms. A video of his visit to a bustling rural market quickly gained popularity among viewers, thrusting Norman into the public eye.

He is widely recognized for his memorable catchphrase “Pots in hand, come along with me”. His videos predominantly focus on the delicacies of Rizhao and the life of rural markets.

His videos often see him purchasing ingredients within a set budget and then preparing them on-site. “We hope to present everyone with the most authentic, most local, and most down-to-earth views of Rizhao’s bustling market,” Norman said.

In 2023, he and his partner created over 120 short videos on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, showcasing the bustling rural markets, the process of sourcing ingredients on-site and preparing dishes like lamb soup, hotpot, spicy chicken, and seafood pancakes. His Douyin account now has amassed over 900,000 followers and more than 5.97 million likes.

During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, Norman and his wife, a Rizhao native, dressed in festive attires and promoted the cultural tourist attractions of Rizhao via livestream, inviting people to come and celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in Shandong.

Rizhao has become his second hometown, Norman said. He hopes to further promote Rizhao via online platforms and help viewers experience the city’s breathtaking seaside landscapes, bustling rural markets, and the inherent warmth and hospitality of its local people.  


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