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His memoir 'Fresh off the Boat' was just released in January, and now comes 'Undercover Brother'
Baohaus' Taiwanese chef (slash TED fellow slash Girls recapper) Eddie Huang has already signed on to write book number two, a month after the release of his first book Fresh off the Boat (which debuted Jan. 29).
Eater tips us off to this latest development, noting that the book (announced on Publishers Marketplace) will tell the story of Undercover Brother, where Huang and his brother go to mainland China "armed only with New York savvy and middle-school Mandarin to become food vendors on the streets of Beijing."
This announcement comes right after the Miami episode of Huang's VICE show dropped; whether a Huang brothers duo of sorts will be featured in future shows has yet to be seen. In the meantime, Publishers Marketplace says it will be a story about an immigrant's identity (an ongoing theme with Huang), where the two brothers reverse their family story and go on "a business adventure in the wild-west of the world's fastest growing economy." The publication date has yet to be announced.
Cooking Up New Business Ideas from Old-World Recipes
Not all great ideas are new. Sometimes Old World concepts play muse to entrepreneurs.
Startups can draw on anything from ancient food to beauty rituals to create a business with a distinctly vintage feel. A jewelry company, for example, used Buddhist and Hindu symbols to design products with added meaning, while a maker of dairy beverages introduced consumers to an Eastern European yogurt drink known for its healing properties.
But creating a viable business based on age-old ideas is challenging: How do you rework the idea into an innovative product that appeals to a new, much broader market? And how do you educate new consumers about the product's heritage?
Here is a look at four companies that successfully resolved such issues and built their businesses by modernizing Old World concepts:
Company: Baohaus, New York
Product: Steamed buns
Founder: Eddie Huang
Chinese legends say that steamed buns called Baozi were eaten by the military during the Three Kingdoms period of the third century. And still today in Taiwan and other parts of Asia, Baozi (also called Mantou) remains one of the tastiest street snacks around.
The steamed buns also are sold in New York's Chinatown and other neighborhoods with large populations of Asian immigrants. But Eddie Huang saw a new business opportunity in bringing the steamed buns to the Manhattan foodie scene and attracting customers who didn't grow up eating them as comfort food. His concept worked. Baohaus restaurant, which opened in 2009, already has expanded into a larger space and grown from two to 18 employees.
Baohaus, located in Manhattan's East Village, draws many of its customers from nearby New York University and stays open until 2 a.m. on weekends."It's typically sold in Taiwanese breakfast joints," says 29-year-old Huang, who remembers bao from visits to his grandmother in California."I changed [steamed buns] from a breakfast food to a late-night food." To be distinctive and appeal to college students, he created a hip atmosphere: Employees are young and stylish and the background music is hip-hop."I'm not playing Chinese music off laser discs," Huang says.
Baos cost an average of $3 and include such ingredients as Taiwanese red sugar, pickled radish and crushed peanut. On any given day, the restaurant sells between 350 and 550 baos. Huang says it took only a few months to break even on his investment. He won't disclose profits because he says the restaurant business is so competitive, but adds that he's thinking of expansion elsewhere in New York.
Company: Tatcha, Seattle
Product: Aburatorigami (Japanese blotting papers)
Founder: Vicky Tsai
With porcelain skin, the Japanese geisha is a well of inspiration when it comes to beauty. Vicky Tsai, 33, tapped into her fascination with the geisha culture by launching Tatcha, a two-year-old beauty company that focuses on authentic Old World Japanese products. The company's first product is aburatorigami, deluxe gold leaf blotting papers that help keep makeup in place, reduce oil and freshen up the face. Leaving the formula untouched, Tsai met with geisha to help her understand the product."I would just go to Japan and observe their beauty rituals," says Tsai, who makes constant trips back and forth to research and develop products."I just literally bring things that are amazing and pure and share them in their raw form."
She learned that the blotting papers are a byproduct of the gold leaf-making process and geisha have used them for the last 300 years. Craftsmen hammered on the papers to protect the gold metal, she says, and the geisha mysteriously discovered the benefits of the used papers.
To educate today's consumers, Tatcha's website and cardboard packaging provide a snippet of history. Tsai says she's learned that blotting paper fans are eager to experience something exotic from the past.
Tatcha has five full-time employees and is growing. Tsai won't discuss financial results, but notes that Tatcha blotting papers are carried by 200 online and brick-and-mortar retailers and have been featured on the Today show. In October, she launched packets of smaller, charcoal colored blotting papers for customers to carry in evening bags. Tsai plans to market at least two additional beauty products next year, but declines to be more specific because she says she is still ironing out the details.
Company: Satya Jewelry, New York
Product: Spiritually inspired jewelry
Founders: Satya Scainetti and Beth Torstrick-Ward
Ten years ago, Satya Scainetti and Beth Torstrick-Ward wanted to develop a different kind of jewelry business and drew inspiration from their travels and the many ancient talisman symbols they found in places like Thailand and India. They created jewelry that includes such symbols as the Hamsa, to ward off the evil eye, and Ganesha, known as the remover of obstacles in Hinduism.
A major challenge has been broadening the company's customer base, while staying authentic. The jewelry isn't completely fashion or trend driven it actually has a deep meaning," says Tostrick-Ward, 40.
Originally focused on yogis--who represent a $6 billion market in the U.S., according to Yoga Journal--Satya now describes its jewelry simply as spiritually inspired in its promotional tagline. With its 10-year anniversary approaching next year, the company has expanded its market to include more than 350 retailers including Barneys New York and Amazon.com.
Sales have increased by at least 15% annually over the past five years, Tostrick-Ward says. She attributes the success to the powerful meanings of the ancient talismans."When people put on our jewelry," she says,"they are reminded of their inner potential and inner power."
Company: Lifeway Foods, Morton Grove, Ill.
Product: Kefir, a probiotic yogurt drink
Founder: Michael Smolyansky
Kefir, pronounced [key-fur] has long been a staple of the central Asian and Eastern European diet. But when Lifeway Foods started selling it in the Chicago area in 1986, it was difficult translating the yogurt drink's popularity to the American consumer. Natural foods weren't yet in the mainstream, remembers chief executive Julie Smolyansky, who took over the business in 2002 after her father Michael's death."You [needed to] look at an Old World product and find a way to reinvent it and bring life to it."
More than 20 years later, the product has gone mainstream and is sold by such major retailers as Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. The company has thrived because of constant innovation and the ability to understand consumer needs, Smolyansky says. Instead of serving the drinks plain, Lifeway has concocted frozen pomegranate. It also developed convenient pouches for kids' lunchboxes."No one has sold frozen kefir before in the 2000 years that it's existed," Smolyansky says. Sales of the public company, which employs 300 people, were $63.5 million in 2010, with profit of $20.3 million. This year, Smolyansky expects sales of $80 million, with a 20% increase in profits.
Promoting kefir's health benefits wasn't easy, says the 36-year-old Smolyansky. When she started labeling bottles as probiotic with healthy bacteria, there was an outcry from loyal customers."Kefir [and yogurt] have always been a probiotic product, but nobody knew that," she says."The big yogurt companies were afraid to connect the word 'bacteria' with food." While there are smaller direct competitors making kefir, Smolyanksy says her biggest rivals are large yogurt brands like Dannon and Yoplait.
Nearly one million people signed up for Obamacare coverage this spring.
Nearly one million Americans have signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage during the first 10 weeks of a special open enrollment period the Biden administration began in February.
A total of 940,000 people enrolled in Obamacare coverage between Feb. 15 and April 30, new data released Thursday by Health and Human Services shows. Of those new enrollees, nearly half bought coverage last month, after Congress added billions in subsidies included in the most recent stimulus package.
With that additional funding, the average monthly premium that Healthcare.gov consumers paid fell to $86 for those signing up in April, down from $117 in February and March (before the new subsidies).
The surge in sign-ups reflects a growing demand for health insurance. Many Americans have lost job-based coverage during the pandemic, and others who were uninsured before found themselves newly interested in coverage. The numbers undercount the overall new insurance sign-ups they reflect enrollment only in the 36 states with marketplaces that the federal government manages.
The increase most likely reflects increased publicity about the opportunity, the availability of more financial help with premiums, and health fears related to the pandemic. The Trump administration made deep cuts in advertising and marketing for Healthcare.gov. The Biden administration reversed many of those changes, committing to spending $100 million to advertise this new enrollment period.
The new subsidies make a substantial difference in the affordability of insurance for many Americans. About four million who are currently uninsured can qualify for plans that will cost them no premium, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (the government subsidy would cover the entire monthly cost).
Another group, higher up the income scale, qualifies for financial assistance for the first time. Some families will be eligible for discounts of more than $10,000 a year. Under the stimulus bill, these new subsidies will last until the end of 2022. But the president has said he will seek to extend them as part of his American Families Plan legislation.
Around two million Americans who were already enrolled in Obamacare coverage have returned to the marketplace to take advantage of new subsidies, according to the department. That number represents a fraction of those eligible for new discounts. Biden administration officials opted against an automatic update of subsidies, and have instead been trying to encourage consumers to come back and request them individually.
Everyone eligible for a new discount will get it eventually, but those who sign up now will receive monthly discounts on their insurance, while those who do not will get the money as a refund when they file their taxes next year.
Sign-ups for health plans in most states will remain open until Aug. 15 this year.
The app is not taking into consideration that I do not snack and there is no way to change that.. also I have been way lower carb than this plan for the last 2 years (under 90g a day. this plan has me at 52g of carbs just for breakfast. it is not taking into consideration my micro restrictions.. very frustrating .
I have just been diagnosed with prediabetes so have been researching and gathering as much information as I can. My doctor suggested I follow a diet plan low in carbohydrates. I’m pretty well versed on what to avoid, but using My Diabetes had been helpful. Hopefully I can avoid medication.
An FOB feeling happy after reading Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off the Boat
It starts with the food bullying that I feel I can relate to Eddie Huang‘s story. Cleverly, he begins the book with dimsum, so that got my interest, but he talked about dimsum for less than 2 pages. The food bullying though, where his classmates said that his food smelled bad, that he wanted the white kid lunches, that’s where my memories came back. The bully for me wasn’t in school and wasn’t by the kids. Comments, always by adults and mostly white females, that the food my mom made made the house smell bad, or the stuff I eat or drink that they haven’t heard of, much less tried, is “gross”, are this pet peeve of mine that I can’t forgive. Sure, they may not be intended to hurt me or anyone specifically, but they’re never well-meaning. They are too minute to confront the speaker about, so I have no way to tell the speaker that she’s disrespecting my whole culture. They are the papercut stings that you feel every time you wash your hands.
Eddie Huang and I don’t have anything in common, except we both being born to Asian parents. He grew up liking basketball, seeing himself in hip hop lyrics, doing drugs (and selling them), working in restaurant kitchens, getting in fights and juvenile in high school and probation in college. I grew up doing literature, math and science competitions. He lives in the East Coast. I live in Texas and the Bay Area. He is a celebrity. I am one of many of the model minority. Unlike him, I didn’t have classmates bully me for being Asian, because lucky for me, I wasn’t in America until late high school. In Vietnam, at least in those days, when you make good grades, your classmates don’t hate you, the cool kids are not the ones that play football or are in the cheerleader team (there’s no such thing as cheerleading in Vietnamese schools), and there’s no nerd that talks only about science or Star Trek in an annoying, obsessive way that makes a bad name for everyone who actually likes to study and get good grades. So at Humble High, I joined a group of class-loving friends at lunch, we sat by the library, then I went to college wanting to be a Physics professor. In American terms, I’m a big nerd. But I can’t feel one bit related to or represented by Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory. That show is a cheap attempt of boxing all science students and scientists into this inaccurate, overblown stereotype of what a scientist looks and acts like. Not a single real physicist that I know fits into the Sheldon box. However, a few students that I’ve taught, who make themselves fit into that box because they want to be scientists, fit the box like a cat. Shows like BBT make teenagers mold themselves into erroneous molds without ever knowing the correct mold, if there’s even one.
So yes, we shouldn’t fit ourselves into molds, and I’m a bit afraid of trying to fit myself into the Asian mold right here by relating to Edie Huang’s story simply on the ground that we’re Asians.
Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir
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I only rated it 2 stars because it just wasn't my kind of book. I could and did connect with some things he said about being a minority in America. I wouldn't read again and probably won't go out of my way to recommend this book, but I am glad I read it. There was one quote that really spoke to me, especially considering this exact thing is happening in a neighborhood close to me a non-latino coming into a predominately latino neighborhood saying she is opening up a better, "healthier", fruteria.
"Will you give credit where it's due or will you allow the media to prop you up as the next Marco Polo taking spices from the Barbarians Beyond the Wall and 'refining' them? The most infuriating thing is the idea that ethnic food isn't already good enough because it goddamn is. We were fine before you came to visit and we'll be fine after. If you like our food, great, but don't come tell me you're gonna clean it up, refine it, or elevate it because it's not necessary or possible. We don't need fucking food missionaries to cleanse our palates. What we need are opportunities outside kitchens and cubicles." (Page 248 of the e-book) ( )
This is not the memoir that should have become a TV show. I don't have a TV and haven't seen an episode of the show. But with the hype surrounding it (which actually seems to have fallen off after the first couple of weeks, which makes me wonder if it will last for next year), I thought I'd give it a shot. It took quite a while for this to come through the library queue for me, and once again it has proven to be a waste of time.
It's his story of a first generation Chinese American, who had both grandmothers who had their feet bound (if you don't know what it means, Google "foot binding". I do not recommend doing so if you've eaten recently or are squeamish) and parents who are trying to make a new life in the US. Unfortunately it was very difficult to get past the rambling, disjointed talk peppered with pop culture references and rap lyrics. He hasn't really done enough or was willing to fill the pages with substantial material. I thought that being really close in age and a similar upbringing would help me relate to him, but I found his writing unapproachable in some ways.
I read elsewhere for wistful musings that Roy Choi's "L.A. Son" would have been the better choice to adapt, and I agree. While I had issues with Choi's book (it was less of a memoir than I would have liked), I agree. Choi was poignant when he talks about his gambling addiction, struggles growing up, etc. and it left me wanting to know more. With this book, I couldn't wait for it to end. And while I couldn't relate to Choi either, same could be said for say Amy Tan, but their writing was great and compelling. Huang's really isn't.
This would have been better as a blog or at least needed a much better editor to help tighten the prose and shorten the book overall. And while I'm not a huge fan of this style, I think if Huang had been more like other food/cooking/restaurant memoirs (chapter on something then a recipe or a few that are mentioned within the chapter at the end of each or at the very end of the book), it might have been much stronger overall.
I couldn't say if this is a good recommendation for someone who is a fan of the show. Based on other reviews, people looking for works on the Asian immigrant experience and the experience of the US born children might not care for this either. Personally I wouldn't recommend it overall and would suggest going to the library if you're really curious. ( )
Authenticity: the Evolution of Chinese Food in America by Akshitha Adhiyaman
Venturing down Mulberry Street, I hit an intersection with bright orange lights hanging from short buildings and signs filled with characters I could not read. Just a few seconds ago, I was trotting along the streets of young, vibrant SoHo and then somehow entered this new world. I had never been to Chinatown before, even though I have always lived so close to New York City. It was intriguing to see such a stark difference in culture from the rest of the city, and I was ready to explore it. There were museums, temples, bakeries, grocery stores, tiny ice cream shops, and so much more. The restaurants were quite tantalizing, so my family and I decided to settle on one of the cozy eateries on the corner of the street. The menu was similar to pretty much every other Chinese restaurant we had been to before, so we ordered our usual appetizers, soups, and entrees. I was curious to know how this food adapted to match the palates of so many people across America. Why did only Cantonese food become popular? Where did all the sizable differences of traditional Chinese dishes come from? The presence of native foods has always been of great significance in Chinese immigrant families as it allows them to keep a piece of their own homes, yet it has evolved into a novel style of Chinese cuisine in America that is so prevalent in this day.
The first wave of Chinese immigration to the United States of America was in 1815. Since then, more than 2.3 million Chinese immigrants, consisting of skilled workers, laborers, etc, have settled in America (Zong 2017). The Chinese played a monumental role in the development of the railroad system in the West and helped build the economy after the Civil War by picking up the jobs that slaves were doing before. Settling in a new land, these Chinese laborers used food as a way to remember their homeland: “Chinese food was important not only because of its familiar tastes but also because of the memories it carried” (Chen 2017). In their culture, food plays an essential role in providing strong family values and bringing people together. To balance the pressure that comes with settling into new land, a new life, they wished for some sort of familiarity. The few Chinese restaurants that were present were open primarily for these immigrants, and they provided inexpensive, yet hearty meals like bean sprouts and rice.
Even though these immigrants supported the growth of America as a whole, many other laborers despised them as they were additional competition in the job market: “Many of the non-Chinese workers in the United States came to resent the Chinese laborers, who might squeeze them out of their jobs” (US Department of State). They were willing to work longer hours for much less compensation. Other than fighting for job opportunities, the non-Chinese laborers used any differences between them as a mechanism to label them negatively. This increased animosity led to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which prevented these immigrants from becoming naturalized citizens as well as restricting immigration. This discrimination increased the tension and pushed many Chinese workers out of their jobs. They moved out to the East Coast and were struggling to prosper like they previously were. Desperate to make a living, they turned to running laundries and restaurants, two types of businesses still primarily owned by Chinese people “Cooking and cleaning were both women’s work. They were not threatening to white laborers” (Lee 2008). This was just the beginning of the overwhelming expansion of Chinese cuisine and culture that has become such a staple business now in America.
These Chinese restaurants were thriving, especially after Richard Nixon’s famous visit to Beijing, China. This, in addition to immigration reform, caused their restaurant businesses to grow exponentially (Rude 2016). Among all the dishes, chop suey spread across the United States like an epidemic. Everyone was raving over this perfect mixture of meats and vegetables and the intricate balance of flavors. Most people thought it was China’s national dish, and thought it was something unique and exotic. Yet, this was not actually a Chinese dish at all. The Chinese chefs knew they could not serve authentic dishes like sea cucumbers or chicken feet to the American population. Chop suey, in fact means “of odds and ends” and was just scraps of ingredients tossed together (Jurafsky 2014). It was speculated that chop suey came about when the Ambassador of China, Li Hung-Chang, refused to eat the food that was provided to him in his hotels. His personal chefs concocted whatever they could with the ingredients that were available, creating chop suey. After this, people started waiting in lines to taste this supposed traditional dish and his visit was the spark to this “chop suey fad” (Library of Congress). Yet, Jennifer Lee’s research determines that there was no exact point at which this dish was created, but there were so many small events and parts that built up to lead to this craze for chop suey (Lee 2008). This dish is just one example of how the Chinese cuisine has evolved and become popular in America.
At Chinese restaurants today, the big buzzword is General Tso’s chicken. It is the most well-known Chinese dish today and is usually the most popular item or number one chef special on thousands of Chinese menus. The deep orange, tangy sauce is mouthwatering and the small chunks of chicken are perfectly crispy. If you show this to any Chinese native or ask for it at a restaurant in China, they will probably look at you quite perplexed. Lee continued her journey to find out about who General Tso was and how the dish even came about. She travelled deep into the village, getting discouraged as no one was familiar with the dish. She finally found the General’s hometown and encountered the chef who first made this staple meal, Chef Peng. Excited to have finally found her answer and the origins, Lee took a bite of the his recipe of General Tso’s chicken and was confused and in fact, quite disappointed: “Where was the sweetness? The tanginess? Instead, it had a strong salty flavor” (Lee 2008). The food that she and millions of others had come to love and cherish was not even close to the taste and texture of the original. It was even quite saddening to read about Peng’s reaction to the popularized version of his special recipe. He stated as he walked away, “Chinese cuisine took on an American influence in order to make a business out of it” (Lee 2008). In order to make Chinese food acceptable and liked in America, chefs made these dishes “sweeter, boneless, and more heavily deep-fried”: three defining characteristics of General Tso’s chicken (Rude 2016). All these traditional dishes were transforming the true identity of Chinese cuisine, to the point where the Americans that were consuming this food became accustomed to it and believed it to be authentic.
Many of these Chinese dishes also changed due to the nature of living in a new environment that not only had a different culture, but also different resources available. They have adapted more and more to fit American tastes in order to keep their businesses running. Vegetables that are typically used in authentic recipes are bamboo shoots or Chinese cabbage, whereas popular dishes in Chinese-American cuisine are topped with broccoli and carrots as they are more readily available (Chan). Many of the dishes were typically savory (just like Chef Peng’s version of General Tso’s chicken), and yet due to American liking for milder, sweeter items and greater accessibility to refined sugar, the recipes were slowly changing. The American population also took to a strong liking of crab rangoon, a wonton dish that was filled with crab and cream cheese, typically eaten as an appetizer. This is also shocking as dairy is not typically consumed in Chinese cuisine in the first place (Jurafsky 2014). There has never been an emphasis on producing dairy and a large portion of the population is lactose intolerant as well. The greater availability of these new vegetables and dairy products in America have led them to be commonly integrated into their food.
When Chinese cuisine first started developing, much of the population was poor and had no proper ways of preserving their foods. Due to this, Chinese cuisine is filled with dishes of almost every single body part of chickens, fish, pigs and seafood (Lee 2008). Today, these may be considered revolting to Americans as they are much pickier about what textures and what animal body parts they can consume, to make consuming animals feel more humane. This is why Chinese American food turned towards using chicken breast they diced them up into small chunks without any skin or bones. There were also many more constraints in their cooking style back then. Lee states, “Food had to be dried or pickled…stir-frying was a popular technique because it used little oil and consumed energy efficiently” (Lee 2008). Chinese food developing in America did not face any of these problems as there were appliances like freezers and salt was more heavily used to preserve meats. The Chinese also were not familiar with using ovens which made them lack in the department of baking and desserts. In a traditional Chinese dinner, there is no concept of dessert. If anything, there may be a plate of fruit instead. The fortune cookie, which actually originated in Japan, “filled the dessert gap in that cuisine for American eaters” and continued further to become a monumental symbol for Chinese food and culture itself (Jurafsky 2014). This change in resources and appliances have indeed played a tremendous role in how Chinese cuisine evolved in America.
The stark contrast between traditional Chinese cuisine and Chinese-American dishes can clearly be seen by looking into the homes of immigrant families in America. The dishes that they serve on the dinner table are much more authentic than you can find in any restaurant across the country. Susannah Chen reflects back on her mother’s recipe for making ping an mien, a type of Chinese chicken noodle soup. It was a recipe that was special in her home “for birthdays, and when someone was leaving to go far, far away” (Chen 2014). She realized the significance once her boyfriend was moving away to continue his studies, and she spent time trying to find the most authentic ingredients in order to make something meaningful. Though she did not make it perfectly, it was a special moment, making such an authentic recipe symbolic to her and her family. This dish is rarely found in Chinese-American restaurants, rather there are soups like chicken corn soup or plain vegetable soup. These authentic recipes, thankfully, are being passed down the generations, but it would be extremely difficult to bring these types of dishes to the public eye as Americans already believe that they are consuming authentic Chinese food since it has been around for so long.
Another example of the evolution of Chinese food in America is seen through Jennifer Chan’s experience with both her family and the restaurant they own. Her father is both the owner and head chef of the restaurant Chan revealed many of the differences in his cooking between home and at work, over the years. Chan explains, “The food that we serve in the restaurant and what my parents cook at home is very different. We use different vegetables and steam our fish whole” (Chan). The food that the restaurant served was more for the public taste, compared to the genuine and comforting flavors that they would make for themselves. Only certain customers know to ask for particular authentic Cantonese or Sichuan dishes, but the majority stick to the most well known dishes. Furthermore, she stated that in Chinese culture, food is served in large bowls or plates at the center of the table to share. Everyone was to pass the dish around and place as much as they wanted on their plate. Yet, at her restaurant, she claims that everything is served in “individual portions” as that is how the Americans typically consume their food, even when sharing a meal as a large group (Chan). The Chinese food culture is even adapting to match the traditions and ways of the Americans.
Even as Chinese American food is evolving, the authentic Chinese dishes across the Pacific Ocean are also modifying quickly. Eddie Huang, a popular writer and chef, also discusses about trying to connect back to his homeland and past by using food. He explores China and goes on a adventure to discover how the food that he serves in his restaurant in America stands up to the authentic food of the Chinese streets. When he cooked beef noodle soup and served it to a couple of friends and family, his brother said, “Definitely different than Mom’s, but I like it” (Huang 2016). He received similar feedback on many of his other recipes as well. Huang had his own flair and people loved it, but it was still quite unlike the original recipe. Huang then goes out to try dan-dan noodles at little restaurant and compares them to the ones that he loved to devour: “I never liked Sichuan dan-dan mian because everyone got it confused with Taiwanese dan-dan mian that my dad grew up eating…A classic and irresistible dish” (Huang 2016). When visiting this restaurant, he discovered that the dish was barely popular anymore due to its simple ingredients and overly intimidating spice, while in the US, it was still one of the most desired Sichuan dishes to this day. Chinese cuisine is also rapidly changing. In this case, the Americans are appreciating a traditional dish, but it has lost its magic in its native land.
The Chinese American cuisine has established itself throughout the United States, but this does not mean that there are no other options available. Rude writes, “It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that the United States got its first taste of ‘authentic’ Chinese cuisine” (Rude 2016). There were immigrants coming from more locations across China that brought Hunan, Sichuan, Taipei, and Shanghai cuisines to the table (Rude 2016). Though it did not explode and become as in demand like the Americanized Cantonese cuisine, these dishes are still available in various restaurants. Vincent Li discusses how his restaurant in Washington DC caters to both local Americans as well as Chinese people looking for a true meal. He states that cooking Chinese American food is much easier because there are fewer cooking styles and “one just needs to stir-fry the vegetables and meats” (CCTV America). There are even two different menus specific to the patron. The Chinese customers and those American foodies ready to explore new depths of this cuisine, can get a unique menu listing all of the legitimate Chinese dishes that they can prepare. These beautiful dishes are just hiding behind this overpowering, yet inaccurate portrayal of Chinese cuisine.
In conclusion, Chinese-American food has been consistently changing and adapting to fit the likings of the American people and to match the resources available. The rich history of Chinese immigration was the impetus to the widespread liking of Chinese-American cuisine, as well as through various events like the visit of Ambassador Li Hung-Chang or Richard Nixon’s travels to Beijing. The Chinese continued to experiment with new ingredients available in the United States and used cooking styles that were much different to what they were exposed to at home. The divergence between the Chinese cuisine and Chinese-American cuisine is shown directly between what is even cooked in Chinese immigrant homes than in restaurants. The evolution is still continuing and both disciplines of cooking are refining and reshaping. The fact is that these authentic dishes are available across the Unites States, but it is up to individual people to go out and seek the real definition of Chinese cuisine whether it is by asking a local restaurant for something novel or preparing one’s own traditional Chinese concoction.
CCTVAmerica1. YouTube, YouTube, 23 Sept. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zco_-n0CvTc.
Jennifer, Chan. “Wah Sing.” 22 June 2018.
Chen, Susannah. “Ping An Mien, a Chinese Family Noodle Story.” Chowhound, Chowhound, 7 July 2014, www.chowhound.com/food-news/152845/ping-an-mien-a-family-noodle- story/.
Chen, Yong. “The Rise of Chinese Food in the United States.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, 2017, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.273.
“Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration.
“Chop Suey Was Invented, Fact or Fiction?” America’s Story from America’s Library, The Library of Congress, www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/progress/jb_progress_suey_3.html.
Huang, Eddie. Double Cup Love: on the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China. Spiegel & Grau, 2016.
Jurafsky, Daniel. The Language of Food: a Linguist Reads the Menu. W.W. Norton & Company, 2014.
Lee, Jennifer 8. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. Twelve, 2008.
Popular Food Blogger Called Out for Whitewashing Pho, Disappoints Many With Her Response
Popular food author Tieghan Gerard has sparked an online backlash from the Asian American community over a recipe that failed to give justice to a beloved Vietnamese dish. Gerard earned the ire of many of her fans after mislabeling a random “noodle soup” recipe as pho on her Half Baked Harvest website.
The food blogger shared the controversial recipe on the site and Instagram earlier this month with the title “Weeknight ginger pho ga (Vietnamese chicken soup).” Gerard’s dish, which she says can be prepared in an hour, is made up of caramelized chicken and a “sweet, spicy, tangy sesame chile sauce.” Those familiar with the iconic soup understand that preparing actual Pho requires long hours of cooking, in order to bring out the broth’s distinct flavor. In addition to the broth, traditional pho is also made with rice noodles, usually beef or sometimes chicken meat and special fresh garnishes. The backlash was immediate, with many pointing out the many ways the author got Vietnam's most internationally recognized dish wrong.
“I really LOVE so many of your recipes, and I appreciate what you're doing, but this is not pho. And to call it pho (even chicken pho) is not only appropriation, it's honestly hurtful,” a commenter wrote on her blog. “This recipe does not reflect the actual ingredients of Vietnam that go into pho, all of the time and work that goes into pho or the actual flavors OR presentation even of pho.” While she initially ignored the critical comments from her readers, she was eventually forced to rename it as “Easy sesame chicken and noodles in spicy broth,” as the criticisms mounted.
She also started posting a canned reply to each negative comment: “Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I understand where you are coming from and have decided to change the recipe tittle [sic]. It was never my intention to offend or hurt anyone or the culture. I will make sure do be much more conscious when deciding on recipe tittles [sic] in the future and be sure to do more research. Thank you for kindly bringing this to my attention, I really appreciate you kindly letting voicing your concern. xTieghan” Some of the critics were not satisfied with Gerard's title change and response, reports BuzzFeed. Stephanie Vu told the platform that she reached out to Gerard via Instagram expressing her feelings about the recipe but was further disappointed with the response she received. “I described actual pho and the entire recipe on the blog,” Gerard responded, “and state that this is just my creation of what you can make at home.” Vu lamented Gerard's "lack of acknowledgment" which she says can "really hurt the Asian community.” “This specific example, despite the fact that it's 'small,' can be extrapolated to casual appropriation situations that Asian Americans experience…the fact that she dismissed me really hurt me," she explained. Back in 2016, a Philly-based chef, Tyler Akin of Stock restaurant, was embroiled in a similar controversy after participating in a video on “PSA: This Is How You Should Be Eating Pho” by Bon Appétit Magazine. Feature Image via @halfbakedharvest
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