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Eat like an employee at the world’s third-largest phone maker

Commentary: It’s not every day you can get a sense of how people in other countries eat day-to-day. But at Huawei’s R&D center in Shanghai, China, tech workers seem to have it pretty good.

I'm fascinated by food: not just cooking ingredients and techniques, but also what people eat when they aren't giving the act a second thought, the way I might reheat leftovers for lunch or run down the street for a quick burrito.

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Click to read more of Jessica's travel adventures.

It's why I go out of my way to pop into grocery stores and markets when I travel abroad, and it's why I couldn't resist poking my head into the cafeteria at Huawei's enormous Shanghai campus, where I met with the company during a two-and-a-half week tour of seven cities in Asia.

Employees here ferried tray after tray of steaming soups, sauce-slicked noodles and glistening stir-fries to long communal tables. There's real dinnerware here and sturdy chopsticks, nothing at all like the spork and mystery meat culture that the dim room suggests. I'm telling you, the food looked damn good.

OK, so Huawei's campus doesn't have 20-odd restaurants boasting organic produce and celebrated chefs (I mean you, Google), and lunch here isn't free (though it is heavily subsidized). But as part of feeding the campus' roughly 10,000 employees, the kitchen does use herbs grown on the building's roof and whole pieces of fruit are served in protective wrappers to keep them from getting bruised.

After a minute of patiently watching me scan the room, my solicitous hosts shooed our group along to a private dining area reserved for VIP guests. But even as I speared chunks of delicious thyme-sauteed potatoes and silky cod in cream sauce with my elegant fork, I would have happily traded them both for a chance to navigate my own crowded lunch tray to one of those long tables and dig in like a tech worker, Shanghai-style.