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Xiaohui Liu

Xiaohui Liu
Xiaohui Liu

Foodscapes of Chinese America
Foodscapes of

Foodscapes of Chinese America
This book explores the transformation of cultural change. A particular geographic

Chinese America
Chinese food in the U.S. after 1965 from a focus of this book is California.
cultural perspective. The author asks how
Chinese food reflects the racial relation
between the Chinese community and
the mainstream white society and inves- The Author
tigates the symbolic meanings as well as Xiaohui Liu studied at Fudan University The Transformation
the cultural functions of Chinese food in
America. She argues that food is not only
(China) and Ludwig Maximilian Univer-
sity of Munich (Germany). Her main fields
of Chinese Culinary Culture
a symbol that mirrors social relations,
but also an agent which causes social and
of research are Immigration Studies and
Food Studies.
in the U.S. since 1965

ISBN 978-3-631-67100-9

267100_Liu_ak_A5HCk PLE edition new.indd 1 16.11.15 KW 47 15:03

Xiaohui Liu
Xiaohui Liu
Xiaohui Liu

Foodscapes of Chinese America
Foodscapes of

Foodscapes of Chinese America
This book explores the transformation of cultural change. A particular geographic

Chinese America
Chinese food in the U.S. after 1965 from a focus of this book is California.
cultural perspective. The author asks how
Chinese food reflects the racial relation
between the Chinese community and
the mainstream white society and inves- The Author
tigates the symbolic meanings as well as Xiaohui Liu studied at Fudan University The Transformation
the cultural functions of Chinese food in
America. She argues that food is not only
(China) and Ludwig Maximilian Univer-
sity of Munich (Germany). Her main fields
of Chinese Culinary Culture
a symbol that mirrors social relations,
but also an agent which causes social and
of research are Immigration Studies and
Food Studies.
in the U.S. since 1965

267100_Liu_ak_A5HCk PLE edition new.indd 1 16.11.15 KW 47 15:03

Foodscapes of Chinese America

since 1965 .S. Xiaohui Liu Foodscapes of Chinese America The Transformation of Chinese Culinary Culture in the U.

Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie. Peter Lang Edition is an Imprint of Peter Lang GmbH. and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems.. Univ.. This applies in particular to reproductions. This publication has been peer reviewed. translations. www. detailed bibliographic data is available in the internet at http://dnb.d-nb. microfilming. is forbidden and liable to prosecution.: München. without the permission of the . Peter Lang – Frankfurt am Main ∙ Bern ∙ Bruxelles ∙ New York ∙ Oxford ∙ Warszawa ∙ Wien All parts of this publication are protected by copyright. 2015 D 19 ISBN 978-3-631-67100-9 (Print) E-ISBN 978-3-653-06377-6 (E-Book) DOI 10. Diss.3726/978-3-653-06377-6 © Peter Lang GmbH Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften Frankfurt am Main 2016 All rights reserved. Zugl. Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright

For Feng. For his endless love and support .


1 Chinese Cuisine and Californian Taste – Cultural Adaptations and Negotiations�������������������������������������������161 7 . The Transformation of Chinese American Foodscapes��������������������������������������������������55 3.3 There was More Than One Cuisine – From Standardized Cantonese American Fare to Diversified Regional Cuisines�����������������������������������������������93 a. The Era of Chop Suey – the Early Evolution of Chinese American Food�����������������������������������������33 Chapter 3.1.1. The Charms of Hong Kong Cuisine and Its Cultural Identity��������������������������������������������������������������� 94 b.1.2 Americanized Panda – The Rise of Chinese Fast Food Chains�������������������������������������������������������������������������114 3.1.3 Chinese Food and Chineseness in the New Era����������������������������142 Chapter 4.  Introduction������������������������������������������������������������������15 Chapter 2.1 Culinary Diversification – The Chinese Restaurant Revolution�������������������������������������������������������������������55 3. Culinary Culture in Metropolitan California�������157 4.2 How New Cuisines were Introduced – Menus and Other Translation Strategies������������������������������������������������79 3.1 The Coming of the Culinary Diasporas – Change of Restaurant Operators/Chefs������������������������������������������������67 3.1 Serving Outsiders: Restaurants for Non-Chinese�������������������������160 4.Table of Contents Acknowledgements�����������������������������������������������������������������������������9 Abstract����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������13 Chapter 1. The Awakening of the American Palate – America’s Love Affair with Spicy Szechuan and Hunan Cuisine����� 104 3.

1 Features and Cultural Functions����������������������������������������182 4.2.2 Serving Insiders: Restaurants for the Chinese Community��������������������������������������������������������������������182 4.2.2 Non-Chinese Customers – Authenticity and Foodie Culture������������������������������������������������������������������193 4.3 Cross-over Consumption – The Birth of a Transethnic Cuisine and Cosmopolitan Identity��������������������������203 Conclusion���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������211 Bibliography�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������221 8 .2 Representing and Reconstructing a New Ethnicity through Restaurant Décor�������������������������������������������������172 4.1. 4.

researching and writing processes. 9 . an extremely knowledgeable and respected scholar. I feel very grateful to my secondary supervisor Professor Berndt Ostendorf. who served on my defense committee. And once you get through it. I would like also to thank Prof. He offered me great assistance in developing the framework of my dissertation and guided me through the conceptualiz- ing. which are quite conducive to my future research. He kindly spared his precious time for my defense and raised a number of inspiring and wonderful questions. His insightful suggestions as well as the valuable documents on food studies he gave me meant so much to my research. Without his step-by-step guidance and supervision. Professor Mauch endured my numerous questions and gave me countless useful and practical feedback. He also encouraged me to participate in academic activities and provided me with many precious opportunities for academic exchanges. In spite of the fact that he is an extremely busy scholar and always dashing around the world. I would like to first of all thank my primary supervisor Pro- fessor Christof Mauch for his expert guidance. During the three and a half years of my doctoral studies. But the biggest difference is that in finishing a dissertation there are so many people who selflessly provide you with help and facilitate the advancement of your work. It is a painstaking and challenging journey. my doctoral studies in Germany could have never been this fruitful and smooth. His kindness and generosity was far beyond my expectations.Acknowledgements The process of writing a dissertation is like a spiritual odyssey. Professor Ostendorf. you are much stronger and more mature than before. played such an important and irreplaceable role in keeping me on the right track while writing and provided me great motivation to move forward. I am deeply indebted to many people in turning an abstract idea into this finished work. consistent support and kind encouragement. Christof Decker. which makes us doctoral students much luckier than poor Odysseus. full of diffi- culties and pains. I have the feeling that he is always available to help out whenever I need him.

Special thanks go to Eugene Moy for taking me to an interesting exhibition on Chinese restaurants and for giving me a guided tour around downtown L.A. a retired master chef and owner of Plum Three Inn. In this respect. who kindly took me into his kitchen while he was preparing food for customers and shared his personal stories about the restaurant business. owner of Fu-shing restaurant.000 different Chinese restaurants. Antonia Mehnert and Arielle Helmick deserve special mention for their generosity and patience. a dear friend of mine. chefs and employees who offered me the chance to interview them. Sabine Buchczyk. and the Hoover Institution Library & Archives at Stanford University for their assistance. David Chan. the Ethnic Studies Library at the University of California. I thank the kind librarians and archivists at Los Angeles Public Library. I am especially indebted to Charlotte Lerg and Angelika Möller. Berkeley. Agnes Kneitz. who has eaten at over 6. I thank 10 . Their questions and suggestions pushed me to reexamine my ideas and better structure my thesis. shared with me the spreadsheet he made of Chinese restaurants over the past 30 years and took the time to meet me in his office. I would like also to thank the members of ProAmHist. I thank Mark Ting. I also thank the staff at the Chinese Historical Society of America and the Chinese American Museum for show- ing me a rich abundance of research sources. a Chinese food lover and food writer. The grant I received from CSC enabled me to study overseas and acquire new perspectives. Among so many. I sincerely thank my colleagues and friends at the LMU. San Francisco Public Library. also gave me lots of encouragement during my studies at the LMU. Among others. It was such a pleasure to be a part of such a friendly and nice team. which I never knew of before. His observations on Chinese restaurants are a great source for my research. Many colleagues and friends kindly offered assistance and made my studies in Germany much easier. Angelika Möller. for giving me the chance to get to know him and his view on Chinese cooking and American Chinese restaurants. I thank my friend Sasha Gora for exchanging ideas on food studies and also for taking time from her busy life to improve my manuscript draft. I am truly thankful to my sponsor – the China Scholarship Council – for the financial support during my doctoral studies in Germany. I thank Bingcheng Zhang. The members of Profes- sor Mauch’s Oberseminars gave many useful suggestions and feedback on my research project during different phases of the research. I am also grateful to the many restaurant operators.

I can never pay him back for all his efforts and love. and the relationship between food and love. for research. whom I miss so much each day. I am most grateful to my mom and my grandma. which allowed me to travel to the U. He tried everything to convince me that I can successfully finish and calmed me down whenever I felt frustrated and desperate.the Alumni Association of the Amerika-Institut Munich for offering me the stipend. there is one person whom I want to extend my heart- felt gratitude to: my husband Feng Yang. he flew all the way from China to Germany to support me at my defense. showed me the importance of food in human lives with her actions. Last but not least. It might probably be one of the reasons that I developed such a strong interest in food and chose it as the research topic for my doctoral studies.S. It was him who accompanied me through the most joyous and difficult parts of writing my thesis and offered the most selfless support and love. Both the English and Chinese languages fail to express my appreciation enough for him. My mom attached great importance to my education since I was young and always encouraged me to pursue further education and engage in intellectual endeavors. My grandma. In spite of his busy work schedule. 11 . an amiable lady with lots of love. This dissertation is for him.


Key words: food. Chinese American. I argue that food is not only a symbol that reflects social relations. res- taurant 13 . the Chinese foodscape here is the most complex. ethnic cuisine. The basic questions I ask are how Chinese food culture has changed in Amer- ica over time and what eating Chinese food has meant to Americans. immigration.S. serves as the perfect location to examine the changes of Chinese American culinary culture. California. California. which causes social and cultural change. which is not only standing in the forefront of recent culinary changes in America but is also the birthplace of Chinese American food.Abstract This book focuses on the transformation of Chinese American foodscapes after 1965. its social and cultural implications and the mutual influence between Chinese ethnic cuisine and the local culinary culture in the U. Based on the ubiquitous presence of Chinese restaurants and the great popularity of Chinese food in America. it seems necessary to figure out why Ameri- cans eat Chinese food. Owing to the large Chinese population in California. I explore the symbolic meanings and cultural functions of Chinese food both within the Chinese community and in society at large. Chinese food facilitated the upward social mobility of Chinese immigrants and challenged the power relations between the Chinese community and white American society. but also an agent.


The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a revolution in Ameri- can eating and the most conspicuous facet of the revolution was the prosper- ity of ethnic cuisines.Chapter 1. Standing in line waiting to order at a Panda Express. All of these experiences made me wonder if the omnipresence of Chinese restaurants and food affect the eating habits and everyday lives of common people in California. If you are a newcomer. A talk with a local Caucasian friend confirmed my assumption. a local Californian and the younger sister in my host family. German. As it is represented by American mass media. Thanks to the long history and continuous popularity of Chinese food in California. 15 . She told me eating in Chinese restaurants was a precious part of her childhood memories because when she was young her father often took her out to eat in the Chinatown of L.A. She said Chinese food evoked the fun time they spent together.A. French. In an instant.A. said Caroline. who seemed to take this for granted. I was amazed to see the artistic and elegant presentation of an entire roast suckling pig and the extraordinary delicateness of various kinds of dim sum. American eating had changed from a white-dominated culinary sameness to a cornucopian diversity that is full of different ethnic flavors. a surreal feeling hit me when I heard the word “kung pao chicken” from the mouths of many non-Chinese customers.  Introduction Taking a tour through Chinese restaurants in metropolitan California is quite an experience. we passed no less than ten Chinese restaurants in less-than-an-hour-long journey. While I conducted interviews with chefs and restaurateurs in Chinese restaurants. especially soap operas. I felt disoriented in geographical location and was not sure if I was still in the States or back in my home country.. eating Chinese food has already filtered into the daily lives of the local people. the biggest Chinese fast food chain in the U. Dutch.S. American foodways have always been a blend of different ethnic and regional culinary practices since the colonial age.. British. “Chinese restaurants are everywhere here in L. The food revolution turned the United States into a gourmet nation. dining in Chi- nese restaurants is an event of high frequency among Californians. you will definitely be impressed by the ubiquitous presence of Chinese restaurants and the great variety of Chinese food.”. Driving with my host family in central L.

After 1965. more than the total number of all McDon- ald’s. According to Chinese Restaurant News.. Oliver.” Even in ethnic restaurants the food was standardized. homogenized and quite dif- ferent from “the real thing” back in the home country. Wendy’s and Burger King domestic outlets combined. 2005). The arrival of new cuisines enormously expanded the eating choices of Americans and broadened their culinary horizons. First generation immigrants were encouraged to forgo their traditional eating habits in order to become more assimilated in American society. Korean. over time. 2 Harvey Levenstein claimed that the American table remained the product of a fragment of British culture. cultural and culinary environment. CT: Green- wood Press. just to name a few. social. more non-European cuisines made their presence felt . new ethnic cuisines adapted to the American com- mercial market in a different way than before.S. Tandoori chicken. salsa. Anglo-Americans in particular.1 However. homog- enized and thus lost their individual distinctions. Foods like hummus. Vietnamese. 3. The annual sales generated by Chinese restaurants accounted for about one fourth of overall 1 Sandra L. The great enrichment of ethnic foods and their new ways of adapting to American culture resulted in a huge change of the American culinary landscape. Thai. 2003).various Asian cuisines like Japanese. the food preferences of non-white immigrants and ethnics gradually became “white. Szechuan beef. 16 . Indian. as well as Middle Eastern and South American. As the new immigration wave following the passage of the Hart-Cellar Act in 1965 brought a large inflow of non- European immigrants to America. See Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (Berkeley: University of California Press.Irish.139 Chinese restaurants in the U. and African as well as Native American food habits all had left a deep imprint on the way people ate in America. sushi. Thanks to the new political. in 2007.2 dominated American eating until the mid-20th century. The food habits of European Americans. immigrant and regional foodways were gradually Americanized. Consequently. Food in Colonial and Federal America (Westport. there were about 43. because of WASP cultural domination and the influence of the Industrial Revolution. Americans began to eat a much wider range of food and their attitudes towards non-European ethnic cuisines underwent substantial transformation. kebab and pho no longer sounded strange to ordinary Americans.

S.” Inter- national Journal of Hospitality Management 28 (2009): 338. 3 Yinghua Liu and SooCheong Jang.annual sales generated by ethnic restaurants in the U.S. a considerable number were from middle or even upper-class back- grounds. The period between the mid-1960s and the late 1980s witnessed the estab- lishment of a large number of new Chinese restaurants and the emergence of many new Chinese dishes that resembled their original versions in China. The introduction of new regional cuisines challenged the dominance of Americanized Cantonese cooking in Chinese restaurants. Riding on the prosperity of the American fast food industry. Szechuan and Hunan food. chop suey lost its historical attraction and Chinese cooking in the U. As a result. and tasting new Chinese regional cuisines became the new culinary fashion in the 1970s and 1980s. 17 . Chinese food provides a perfect case study to bet- ter understand the American culinary revolution in this period. Shang- hai. diversification coexisted with homogenization. Chinese fast food chain restaurants could be found everywhere in California since the 1980s. chow mein and egg foo young which were highly Americanized ver- sions of Cantonese food. the large influx of new immigrants who came from different regions of China brought different kinds of regional cuisines such as Mandarin. “Perceptions of Chinese Restaurants in the U.: What Affects Customer Satisfaction and Behavioral Intentions?. Before the 1960s. Chinese American foodscapes were thus revitalized and diversified. Many delicate and exquisite Chinese dishes appeared on menus and quite a number of Chinese fine dining restaurants opened. Since then.S. has been under the influence of a global Chinese culinary culture instead of a regional one. Chinese fast food developed. in the culinary world. which further promoted the popularity of Chinese food. Chinese food became one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in America. the most familiar Chinese food to Americans were dishes like chop suey.3 With its conspicu- ous presence in America. Since the discriminating middle and upper-class Chinese customers created a demand for food of high quality. Among the new immigrant restaurateurs and chefs. However. After the passage of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act. a gentrification of Chinese food and restaurants took place during this time period. It was these characters that initiated a series of reforms in Chinese American restaurants from the menu and restaurant décor to the cuisine itself.

The transformation of Chinese American foodscapes contributed enormously to the diversification and democratization of ethnic foodscapes in America. consumed. It will also help people understand why American foodways and the American palate became the way they are today. I situate this change in the larger context of American politics. 18 . culture. An investigation of the metamorphosis of Chinese food will not only add another case study to the existing scholarship on ethnic food in the U.S. My research addresses the change of Chinese cuisine and Chinese culi- nary culture in the United States after 1965. The American perception of Chinese food and Chineseness has also changed over time. revealing racial relations and causing cultural and even social change in the host coun- try. At the same time. since the 1960s. in general and California in particular. I chronicle the evolution and development of Chinese food in America and examine the role Chinese food has played in reflecting immigrants’ experiences. comprehended and accepted influenced and inspired how other ethnic groups prepared their foods and presented them to American consumers in commercial market and also af- fected how Americans understood other ethnic cuisines and incorporated them into their culinary repertoires. The change of American taste can be revealed through their eating of new types of Chinese food brought by new immigrants. The following questions are discussed: What adaptations did Chinese food make to fit into the American commercial market? How did the adaptations differ over time? How have the Chinese American foodscapes transformed since the 1960s and why? How did the food change relate to the larger political. Chinese food played a particularly important role in transforming the larger foodscapes. and cuisine. served as a precedent of the ensuing ethnic foods and also as an indi- cator of the rapid evolvement and development of the American palate. A case study is conducted on the Chinese foodscape in California. In California. Because of the long-time presence of a Chinese population in California and the regional distinctiveness of the state in terms of food culture. the racial and cultural encounter between Chinese immigrants and American society can be manifested by the experience of Chinese food in the American commercial market. society. the Chinese foodscape is more complex in the Golden State than elsewhere. The Chinese food revolution in the U.S. but also shed light on the acceptance of other ethnic cuisines in America in the latter half of the twentieth century. The way Chinese food was produced. as one of the earliest ethnic cuisines..

However. In this sense. such as the private home kitchens of Chinese ethnics. The latest Chinese food trends were always first initiated in sit-down restaurants and then spread to other arenas like fast food chains.? What specific strategies did Chinese chefs and restaurateurs adopt to introduce new dishes? How did the popularity of new Chinese regional cuisines reveal changes of the American palate? How did Americans perceive Chinese food and understand Chinese culinary culture in different time periods? Did the acceptance of Chinese food by the American public suggest the acceptance of Chinese people? See- ing through the development of Chinese food in America.S. contestations and interactions between American people and Chinese food. The conspicuous Chinese restaurant boom during the 1970s and 1980s also helped draw my 19 . restaurants are not only commercial sites but also important cultural institutions. supermarkets and grocery stores that sell Chinese ingredi- ents and also the kitchens of Americans who are enthusiastic about cooking Chinese. culinary practices and food culture.S. It was also Chinese restaurants that made the greatest contribution to the gentrification and diversification of Chinese food in America. grocery stores and American home kitchens. that exerted cultural influence on American eaters and provided them access to learn about Chinese cuisine. Mass production might have also helped boost the popular- ity of Chinese food. No other establishments are more visible and accessible and no other institutions can better represent the presence of Chinese people and Chinese culture in the U. mainly sit-down restau- rants. I focus on restaurants where contact between American diners and Chinese food is most direct and perceptible. and cultural environment in the U.S. it is in American Chinese restaurants where they had their first taste of Chinese food and thus culture. than Chinese restaurants. how did the ethnic relation between the Chinese ethnic group and white Americans change in the new era? How did Chinese food develop its uniqueness in California and how did Chinese ethnic food and California local eating influence each other? How did the frequent eating of Chinese as well as other ethnic foods influence the cultural lives and identities of local Californians? Besides restaurants. there are several other arenas that can be looked at when examining Chinese food in the U. since my particular interest is in the cultural negotiations. For the majority of Americans. but it was Chinese restaurants. It was Chinese restaurants rather than supermarkets. supermarkets.. grocery stores or delis that nurtured the American taste for Chinese

modes of food preparation and consumption. but also examine how the consumption of ethnic food contributes to changes in American eating. These studies not only investigate how the political. Since the United States is a country of immigrants and is abundant in a wide range of ethnic foods. meal circles. Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States: the Performance of Group Identity (1984) edited by Linda Keller Brown and Kay Mussell in- vestigates several different foodways in the United States and explores. the relationship between food and ethnicity. I see restaurants not only as institutions that preserve and represent Chinese ethnic foodways. Hasia R. However.who migrated to the United States between 1880 and 1920. The book explores the changes of their food practices after their arrival in the new country and the significant role of food in cementing their ethnic identities. The over- arching idea of the book is that food is used as a medium to articulate and perform group identity. Most of the earlier studies on food are based in anthropology. Other studies place emphasis on the encounter and interactions between ethnic food and American society. social and cultural context influences the development of ethnic food.Italians. One example is Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (1993) by Harvey Levenstein. Some focus on ethnic food and foodways within ethnic communities and investigate how food helps (re)construct ethnic identity. including their food festivals. These works discuss how ethnic groups strengthened their group solidarity by preserving their original food practices in the host country. They discuss the interplay between social condi- tions and ethnic eating. both schol- arly and non-academic. in particular. there is a substantial amount of writing on ethnic food. but also as spaces that give birth to Chinese American food – a cultural product which possesses a new cultural identity. In addition. Irish and Jews . etc. It traces the social 20 . and reveal the role that food plays in bonding amongst the members of an ethnic or regional group and excluding outsiders. Among them. Many articles in this book examine the food behaviors of a certain ethnic or regional group. not only in the field of anthropology but also in history and sociology. a large number of studies are rooted in this country. Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration (2003) examines the food experience of three immigrant groups . Diner’s Hungering for America: Italian. there has been a growing body of literature on food since the 1980s.attention to this particular setting.

history of food and eating in America and discusses how the change of the American diet in the twentieth century related to political. it brings a new perspective to studies of ethnic food. rather than the U.S. by telling individual food stories. Levenstein particularly hones in on how ethnic food and mainstream American eating influenced each other.S. Chinese. Arabian. Denker places emphasis on the contributions made by immigrant en- trepreneurs in getting their ethnic cuisines accepted by American consumers. Although ethnicity is not the focus of his book. Donna R.. Joel Denker traces the histories of an array of ethnic cuisines such as Italian. the impact of mass production and large corporations on food.K. The World on a Plate: A Tour through the History of America’s Ethnic Cuisine (2003) focuses on the interactions between immigrant food and the American com- mercial market. There are also studies that use food as a metaphor to unravel immigrants’ experiences and examine the racial or ethnic relation between the minority group and mainstream American society. cross-ethnic eating and culinary experimentalism in the U.S. social. especially how the immigrants’ endeavors in the food industry facilitated their upward social mobility and improved their social lives. Although it focuses on the situation in the U. It investigates the role food played in the lives of immigrants. It describes food trends in America dec- ade by decade from the 1920s to the 1990s and also selects a number of faddish recipes from each decade to give readers a better understanding of 21 . In this book. econom- ic and cultural factors. In her book. A few works focus on food itself such as Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (2005) written by Sylvia Lovegren. etc. Gabaccia’s We are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans (1998) addresses the experience of ethnic food in the American market and discusses how the consumption of ethnic food contributed to the change of American eating habits and the construction of American identity. Kershen examines the social and cultural experi- ences of immigrants through the lens of food. she explores many issues revolving around ethnic food. Food in Migrant Experience (2002) edited by Anne J. such as ethnic entrepreneurs’ endeavors in the food industry. Levenstein nevertheless explores how American attitudes towards ethnic food have changed and how American commercial and professional interest groups incorporated ethnic foods into the Ameri- can national diet. in the U. He investigates how these ethnic foods each made their way into American life and how they influenced the way Americans ate.

Simone Cinotto’s Italian American Table: Food. popu- lar culture and everyday life. Only a small number of studies have been done on Chinese food.each trend. and discusses how. and its significant impact on American eating. Most of the historians are interested in Chinese food in the earlier period. which is surprising in some ways. Mexican and Chinese .S.have been insuf- ficiently explored. Laresh Krishna Jayasanker’s dissertation Sameness in Diversity: Food Cul- ture and Globalization in San Francisco Bay Area and America. Compared to the rich abundance of studies on the history of eating in America and how ethnic food has been influential in developing this. Hsia’s Eating the Exotic: The Growing Acceptability of Chinese Cuisine 22 . Ci- notto argues that Italian immigrants and ethnics formed a distinctive food culture in the U. particularly taking into consideration the long history of Chinese food in the U.S. She particularly mentions the revolution of Chinese cooking in the U. Lovegren incorporates several important ethnic food fads in her food contributed to the development of an enclave economy and helped create a cultural identity for Italian Americans. Em- phasis is placed on how Mexican food entered the American market. Jayasanker explores how the coming of new ethnic cuisines influenced the food consumption of the people living in the Bay Area and situates the changes in food in the larger context of globalization.S. Although there are quite a number of scholarly papers and articles. when and why Mexican food gained popularity.S. A number of important articles and papers that helped shape my thinking are worth mentioning. fewer works trace the history of a single type of ethnic food. 1965–2005 (2008) mainly focuses on the transformation of American ethnic foodscapes after 1965. Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (2012) by Gustavo Arellano traces the journey of Mexican food in the U.Italian.S. and Community in New York City (2013) studies the foodways of Italian immigrants in East Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s and focuses on food within the Italian community. through their eating practices. few authors devote a full volume to Chinese food in the U. Family. Renqiu Yu’s “Chop Suey: From Chinese food to Chinese American food” (1987) explores the origin and evolution of chop suey by telling interesting anecdotes. Even the three most popular ethnic cuisines in America . It examines the role of food in the lives of immigrants . Lisa L. It is more descriptive than analytical. after the 1960s and argues that the American taste for Chinese food became more sophisticated over time.

Both articles examine how Chinese restaurateurs adapted their food to the preferences of white Americans and how the American attitude towards Chinese food changed. In addition. like changes in ingredients. It ex- plores how Chinese food was gradually accepted by American society in the earlier period and the social and cultural implications of its acceptance. have also made contribu- tions to the studies of Chinese American food. such as social scientists and folklorists. It explores the specific adaptations Chinese food made in restaurants main- ly targeting American customers and talks about the strategies used by 23 . San Francisco. and Transnational Culture: Chinese Restaurant Business in Southern California” (2009) coauthored by Haiming Liu and Lianlian Lin is one of the few at- tempts that addresses the change of American Chinese restaurants since 1965. it focuses on restaurants serving the Chinese community and doesn’t discuss the adaptations Chinese food made in the restaurants targeting non-Chinese customers. Culinary Identity. They see Chi- nese restaurants as a venue for cultural exchanges and negotiations between the two cultures. However. it doesn’t describe the change of cuisine in details. Liu and Lin attach importance to the role of the post-1965 Chinese immigrants in transplanting Chinese food culture. flavors and cooking techniques. Haiming Liu’s “Chop Suey as Imagined Authentic Chinese Food: The Cu- linary Identity of Chinese Restaurants in the United States” (2009) and Samantha Barbas’ “‘I’ll take chop suey’: Restaurants as agents of culinary and cultural change” (2003) both capture the significant role chop suey played in stimulating a strong interest in Chinese food among Americans and representing Chinese culinary culture before the 1960s. It also discusses the transnational trend of Chinese culinary culture and the change of the local landscape with the emergence of numerous Chinese businesses in suburban areas in southern California. The article shows how the new immigrants brought change to and invigorated Chinese American foodscapes and how they maintained their ethnic identity by means of food. “Food. Scholars from other disciplines. “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity: Chinese Food as a Social Accomplishment” (1995) authored by Shun Lu and Gary Alan Fine is a sociological work and investigates the presentation of Chinese food in four Chinese restaurants in Athens. 1848–1915 (2003) chronicles the early development of the Chinese restaurant business in San Francisco and discusses the encoun- ter between mainstream white customers and Chinese restaurants.

S. J. Chinese restaurants are the subject of his study. It chronicles the evolution of Chinese restaurant forms and images over 135 years and gives an overview of the development of the Chinese restaurant business. He maintains that Chinese restaurants served as cultural intersections in which the two cultures met each other. Chao argues that through restaurant architecture. He sees Chinese restaurants more as social rather than cultural institutions and focuses on exploring the socioeconomic world of Chinese immigrants. and enhanced cross-cultural understanding. In “Transplanting Identity: A Study of Chinese Immigrants and the Chinese Restaurant Business” (1999) by Jie Zhang. Netta Davis’ “To Serve the ‘Other’: Chinese-American Immigrants in the Restaurant Business” (2002) examines the experiences of recent Chinese immigrants in the res- taurant business through studying their commercially and culturally altered food. 1849–1984” (1985) looks at the change of architecture in Chinese restau- rants in the city of San Francisco. G. A few dissertations have been written on American Chinese restaurants. Tonia Chao’s “Communicating through Ar- chitecture: San Francisco Chinese Restaurants as Cultural Intersections. It argues that Chinese restaurants serve the functions of representing Chinese culture. Based on the interviews conducted with three Chinese restaurateurs. maintaining Chinese traditions and facilitating cultural communications between the Chinese ethnic group and non-Chinese people. However. A. It discusses the role of the Chinese restaurant business in transforming the identity of Chinese immigrants.restaurateurs to present authenticity to their customers. Roberts’ China to Chinatown: Chinese Food in the West (2002) deals with the globalization of Chinese food and inquiries into 24 . There are also several important books about the cultural history of Chinese food in a transna- tional context. the article constructs their experiences and unveils their different attitudes towards how Chinese cuisine should adapt itself to suit the American palate. The emphasis of the work is on the experiences of Chinese restaurant operators and work- ers instead of food. “Cultural and Intercultural Functions of Chinese Restaurants in the Moun- tain West: ‘An Insider’s Perspective’” (2002) authored by Li Li is a work of folklore. only a very small number of book-length studies on this topic have come out up to now. Chinese immigrants presented and created cultural images of China in the U. It describes the characteristics of Chinese food in its homeland and the modifications and alterations it made in the American cultural environ- ment.

S. This book provides interpretations for the popularity of Chinese food in America. none of the previous works discuss the situation of Chinese American foodscapes after 1965 in a full volume. food shops. The Glo- balization of Chinese Food (2002) edited by David Y. It tells the history of Chinese food in several Western countries – the United States. Even though some scholars have touched upon the recent change of Chinese food in their studies. he is less interested in the gentrification of Chinese restaurants and the refinement of Chinese food after 1965. Canada and Great Britain and discusses the introduction and reception of Chinese food in arenas such as restaurants. supermarkets and home kitchens. It attends to the localization and indigenization of Chinese food in different parts of the world as well as the influence of Chinese food on local food habits.S. and focuses on the earlier period. USA: the Story of Chinese Food in America (2014) documents the rise of Chinese food in the U. she traces the origin of fortune cookie and General Tso’s chicken and explores the interesting historical connections between Jewish American consumers and Chinese food. Wu and Sidney Cheung also addresses the global existence of Chinese food. However. Yong Chen’s Chop Suey.the changing attitudes of Western people towards Chinese food. systematic and detailed investigations have been scant. Andrew Coe’s Chop Suey: A Cultural His- tory of Chinese Food in the United States (2009) chronicles the evolution of Chinese food in the U. Chen’s concern is immigrants’ experiences and examines how immigrants created a lifeline by selling their ethnic food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food (2008) by Jennifer Lee explores a few cultural phe- nomena and tells several anecdotes relating to Chinese American food. but also talks about how Western people responded to it. I take the regional dynamics of California 25 . In order to better unravel the change. It explores how Chinese food democratized the American gastronomic land- scape and the role Chinese food played in changing American lifestyles. This collection attempts to explore the cultural meanings of Chinese food in dif- ferent cultural contexts. and focuses on the contacts between Chinese food and American people. H. For instance. As a matter of fact. Coe’s emphasis is more on the early development of Chinese American food than new Chinese food trends. I would like to write a cultural history on Chinese American food with a focus on its change after 1965. a case study is conducted on California. It not only shows how Chinese food was adapted to Western tastes.

but also reveals larger American culinary trends. I look at the architecture of Chinese fast food restaurants and see how McDonald’s and American fast food culture influenced Chinese establishments. alternations and im- provisations of Chinese food are given special significance. Chinese restaurateurs “staged authenticity” by creating restaurant décor with distinctive ethnic flourishes. Restau- rant décor and architecture are also part of culinary culture. writing a cultural history of food cannot avoid bringing in some aspects of social and political history. In order to attract non-Chinese customers who were seeking exoticism. décor. menus in Chinese restaurants are examined to show how the post-1965 immigrants introduced new Chinese regional cuisines to American customers. The change of cuisine is explored in details. As an important device for interpreting new dishes. which not only reflects the interactions between Chinese cuisine and local eating habits. I would like to argue that ethnic food is not only a metaphor and symbol which reflects social relations between people of 26 .into consideration and see how Chinese ethnic cuisine and local eating in- fluenced each other. However. I attach great importance to the post-1965 wave of Chinese immigration and explore the role of new immigrant restaurateurs and chefs in triggering changes to Chinese foodscapes and revitalizing Chinese American culinary culture. The modifications. But the social and political history should not overshadow the cultural history. Through examining the cultural history of Chinese American food. I also discuss the change of the décor in sit-down restaurants and explore how Chinese restaurant operators commodified their ethnicity through constructing a sense of otherness in the decor. I look at the specific changes of restaurant menus. It is impossible to investigate the history of Chinese food in the U. My emphasis is on the cultural dimension of Chinese food with an inten- tion to explore the wider cultural significance of food.S. and issues such as why quite a number of the new Chinese immigrants from middle and upper-class backgrounds still engaged in the restaurant business and how the larger political and social environment influenced the production and reception of Chinese food. without talking about the history of Chinese immigration to the United States. such as exploring the social makeup of Chinese res- taurant operators and clientele in different time periods. In documenting the transformation of Chinese food after 1965. architec- ture and cuisine.

Chapter Three explores the transformation of Chinese foodscapes after the 1960s and discusses the agents. cultural and culinary context and give an overview of the change of American eating in the mid-20th century. I situate my study in the larger American political. but also an active agent that causes social and cultural change. Two case studies are conducted to explore the introduction and reception of new regional cuisines. Although the great enrichment and diversification of Chinese cuisine after the 1960s signified culinary democratization and cultural tolerance in American society. It briefly looks at the birth and early development of Chinese food in restaurants in the United States. The book is arranged chronologically and divided into five main sec- tions. In order to better understand why Chinese food underwent changes in the U. I also examine why mainstream American diners. The introduction and reception of new types of Chinese food differed from the previous era. who were the main customers. I look at the 27 . I hope a study of the American love affair with Szechuan and Hunan food will help explain why spicy food suddenly became trendy in the U. and how it reflected the change of the American palate. Since restaurant menus were one of the most important devices used by Chinese restaurateurs to interpret new dishes. The great popularity of Hong Kong food in America aroused my special interest. suddenly had a strong zest for spicy food. the changes in menus are examined. food and décor in Chinese restaurants were highly adapted to the pref- erences of white Americans. the emergence and rapid develop- ment of the Chinese fast food industry tells another story.S.different racial. Due to the strong force of cultural assimilation and Anglo-conformity. In this vein. was relegated to cheap and simple dishes like chop suey and chow mein. social and cultural backgrounds. Chapter Two begins with the so-called “era of chop suey”.S. of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The role of new immigrants in causing the metamorphosis of Chinese food is discussed. the Chinese community presented a highly Americanized version of Chinese food. who had always been known for their bland taste buds. in this time period. It showed that the homogenizing forces of American society were still strong. I discuss how its popularity is related to the special cultural and culinary identity of Hong Kong and how Americans received Hong Kong food. which is known for its variety and subtlety. sophisticated Chinese cuisine. In this era. social. manifestations the change and its significance.

I investigate the adaptations of food and restaurant décor. I argue that the consumption of ethnic food caused a change in the cultural life of Californians. I’d like to argue that food can not only reflect but also change the American perceptions of Chinese culture. I discuss how Chinese ethnic cuisine and Californian local eating habits and culinary culture have influenced each other. Regarding restaurants for “insiders”. consumption. migration. represented and reproduced through external manifestations such as decor in the commercial setting. Chinese restaurants in L. I talk about the functions of food. The change of the ra- cial relation between American white society and the Chinese ethnic group can be observed through food. especially its role of revealing complicated social processes. trans- nationalism. 28 . Los Angeles and San Francisco are chosen for case studies. Because of the existence of a large Chinese popula- tion and the trend of market segmentation. Both forces have shaped and are still shaping American ethnic foodscapes.A. Chapter Four takes a regional perspective and zooms in on the state of California. but also were tailored to the different tastes of eaters from various ethnic backgrounds. and argue that the force of Americanization coexisted with democratization. suburbanization and ethnic relations are all linked together by food. people in California construct a cosmopolitan identity. I also attempt to analyze the symbolic meanings of eating “the Other” and the relation between eating Chinese food and perceiving Chineseness among American customers. Through cross-over food consumption between different ethnic groups. New Chinese dishes not only accommo- dated the palates of white American customers. one targeting non-Chinese customers and the other anticipating predominantly Chinese. and San Francisco were divided into two groups. the largest Chinese fast food chain in the country. I also study the non- Chinese who patronized these restaurants and talk about foodie culture and the issue of authenticity. Food connects things that are not supposed to go together. Regarding restaurants targeting non-Chinese. It is food that makes abstract concepts like transnationalism. the common features of these restaurants and their cultural functions are discussed. In my study. in Chapter Five. I address the décor of these restaurants and examine how Chinese ethnicity is commodi- fied. globalization and multiculturalism more tangible and concrete. multiculturalism. which reflect the cultural negotiations between restaurant operators and local customers. Finally. globalization.success of Panda Express.

that is. pho- tos of restaurants. I bring in the viewpoint of the Chinese community . perceived and accepted Chinese food – the production side is not neglected as I also bring the perspective of Chinese restaurant operators to readers. The term “foodscape” that appears many times in this book derives from the word “landscape. Anna Lipphardt and Alexandra Nocke. In my research. Although the emphasis is placed on the consumption side – how American eaters responded to. newspapers. It is these sources that altogether reveal the metamorpho- sis of Chinese American foodscapes. 5 Julia Brauch. eds. managers. Jewish Topographies: Visions of Space. menus.” Public Culture 2. food magazines. I got to know the local experiences of Chinese food. the multiple worlds which are constituted by the historically situ- ated imaginations of persons and groups spread around the globe. Most of the previous studies on Chinese American food rely solely on American sources and Chinese sources are rarely used nor given enough credit. I make full use of Chinese sources . 294. I not only talk about how American eaters and consumers understood Chinese food. 4 Arjun Appadurai. Traditions of Place (Hampshire and Burlington.both Chinese restaurant operators and Chinese consumers to make the story complete. VT: 2008). 2. cookbooks. pamphlets on Chinese American food. For this reason the previous works normally center on the American perspective – they usually discuss American customers’ reception of Chinese food.. 29 . but also incorporate the perspective of Chinese food producers and purveyors.”5 When referring to ethnic food. Through conducting interviews with restaurant owners. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. chefs and food writers and seeing exhibitions on American Chinese restaurants in museums during my research trip in California. no. Various kinds of primary sources are drawn on in this research including restaurant guides. Chinese business directories and other archival material alongside a considerable amount of secondary sources. Benefiting from my native tongue.” Arjun Appadurai gave explanations to the several words with the suffix – “scape” by saying these “are the building blocks of what (extending Benedict Anderson) I would like to call imagined worlds.nearly half of my primary sources are in Chinese. Restaurant reviews also constitute an important part of my sources.”4 The word “foodscape” has the implication that “the foods and foodways of a culture form a landscape of their own. Spring (1990): 1–24.

which means “citizen of the world.”6 Ethnic groups create new culinary landscapes in bringing their food and food practices to new countries. flavors. deli shops. Warren Belasco and Philip Scranton (New York and London: Routledge. adaptation and innovation in a new cultural environment. 294.”8 It is a manifestation of cultural hegemony. and Rainer Winter (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Observation of a foodscape involves are- nas such as restaurants. Consumption of Mexican Food in Los Angeles: ‘Foodscapes’ in a Transnational Consumer Society. Natan Sznaider. “Americanization” refers to “a powerful uni- directional process that tends to overwhelm competing processes as well as the strength of local forces that might resist. it is the profile of Chinese cuisine and culinary culture among so many ethnic cuisines in America. Americanization takes the form of homogenizing forces that shapes ethnic cultures and entities and makes them assimilate to the American model. 8 George Ritzer and Todd Stillman. Jewish Topographies. ed. including cookbooks. 197. When used in the culinary sense.” The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as “a person who has lived in and knows about many different parts of 6 Sylvia Ferrero. eds. is also looked at. In other words. etc. Americaniza- tion and Globalization. and/or transform American models into hybrid forms. modes of serving. “Comida Sin Par. It derives from the Greek word “kosmopolitês”.7 The term “Chinese American foodscapes” in this book refers to the Chinese culinary landscapes and gastronomic scene in the United States. Ulrich Beck. “Assessing McDonaldization. 2002).this notion “highlights the trajectories of specific ethnic food items across the globe.. 2003). newspapers and television programs. Ethnic foodscapes in the U. Through transplantation.” in Global America? The Cultural Consequences of Globalization. Mass media.” in Food Nations: Selling Taste in Consumer Societies. modify. Within American borders. which records the evolution and development of food. supermarkets. 34. 30 . grocery stores and home kitchens. Americanization refers to the process of making foreign food agreeable to American preferences and tastes in terms of ingredients. The term “cosmopolitan” is also of great importance in this book. ed. cannot avoid being shaped by the force of Americanization.S. Chinese food and food practices manifested new characteristics in a foreign place. 7 Julia Brauch.

stanford. others on moral norms or relationships. a cosmopolitan figure is often understood as a per- son who possesses the characteristics of great tolerance. Inspired also by anthropological and sociological studies of food. drawing upon methodologies from the disciplines of history.the world. particularly the ethnicity. A few cultural theories are also discussed. regardless of their political affiliation. some focusing on political institutions. New immigrant restaurateurs and chefs reasserted their authority on Chinese food and Chinese culinary culture. The main research method I use is historical analysis based on archival research. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human be- ings. A cosmopolitan identity can only be constructed with the existence of different cultural resources. Different versions of cosmopolitanism envision this community in different politanism/. http://plato. are (or can and should be) citizens in a single community. their social compositions and culture values. Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas on cultural capital are of special relevance in explaining the upward social mobility of Chinese immigrants in the res- taurant business. Theories from ethnic studies are used in ex- ploring the experiences of Chinese immigrants.” Cultural cos- mopolitanism disapproves of the exclusive commitment to a single culture. and still others focusing on shared markets or forms of cultural expression. 31 . of food. A combination of ethnic studies and food studies proves to be fruitful in exploring the symbolic meanings of Chinese food within the Chinese community and in society at large.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides in-depth inter- pretation of the term. which support my argument that food can be a manifestation of power relations as well as a marker of ethnic identity.9 In this book. anthropology and sociology to better understand the evolution of Chinese food and the growth of the Chinese restaurant industry in the United States. it advocates cultural diversity and appreciates cultures of other social groups. I take an interdisciplinary approach. Theories of food studies are also applied in analyzing the sociality. In this sense. I adopt the cultural meaning of “cosmopolitan. instead. Their expertise 9 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. sophistication and readiness for embracing different cultures and a wide range of knowledge.

S.large food companies from Taiwan. 32 . .. they converted their cultural capital into social power as Bourdieu asserts. In this way. The experiences of the post-1965 Chinese immigrants prove Light’s theory. immigrants who possess class sources besides ethnic sources are in a better position to achieve economic success in the market and also able to exert a larger cultural influ- ence in the host society compared to ones who only have ethnic sources. and brought what was in fashion in China to the U. Hong Kong and Mainland China began to establish chain restaurants in the U. According to Light.and knowledge on food empowered them and helped them acquire upward social mobility. Since there was a transnational trend in American Chinese restaurants since the late 1980s . Ivan Light’s theory on the distinction between ethnic sources and class sources is tested in my analysis of the new Chinese immigrant restauranteurs and chefs.S.theories of cultural transnationalism are also debated to analyze the implications of the transnational culinary trend.

10 Samantha Barbas. Only a very small number of lower-class white work- ers and culinary adventurers were attracted to these restaurants for the cheap prices and exotic atmosphere. This chapter mainly focuses on the second period and examines the early evolution of Chinese American food. The first period is from the mid to the late nineteenth century. res- taurants have played an important role in leading food trends and exerting cultural influence on American eaters. 33 . chow mein.” Journal of Popular Culture 36. In the establishment of Chinese ethnic food in America. The evolution of American Chinese restaurants can be roughly divided into three histori- cal periods. the acceptance of Chinese food by American society has been a long process. The Era of Chop Suey – the Early Evolution of Chinese American Food Although Chinese food has existed on American soil for more than a century and a half. The third period is from the late 1960s up until the present. The number of Chinese restaurants increased drastically and a wider range of Chinese food gained acceptance from mainstream Americans. This period witnessed the trans- formation of Chinese food in the U. Chinese American food such as chop suey.Chapter 2. It was Chinese restaurants that made the greatest contribution to the change of Chinese foodscapes. egg foo young were gradually accepted by mainstream Americans and the so-called “chop suey craze”10 emerged in this period. 4 (2003): 675. “‘I’ll Take Chop Suey’: Restaurants as Agents of Culinary and Cultural Change. The second phase begins at the end of the nineteenth century and continues until the late 1960s. mostly male Chinese workers. during which Chinese restaurants flourished and were patronized by large numbers of middle-class white Americans. during which Chinese restaurants served mainly Chinese customers. A great variety of Chinese regional cuisines were introduced in restaurants with the arrival of new immigrants who revitalized and diversified Chinese American foodscapes. no.S.

“Transplanting Identity: A Study of Chinese Immigrants and the Chinese Restaurant Business” (PhD diss. The service was no good either .. it is generally believed that the earliest American Chinese restau- rants opened in San Francisco.”12 Having neither the time nor the culinary skills to cook for themselves. mainly Kwangtung province. the Chinese community remained a “bach- elor society. They came to the U. the din- ing environment was neither tasteful nor at all desirable. 12 Roger Daniels.S. The food choices were also limited.S. owing to the fact that Hawaii was not yet a part of the United States back then. But I consider these eating houses the embryonic form of the earliest Chinese restaurants. The first Chinese restaurants were found in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the mid-nineteenth century. Targeting lower-class Chinese labor workers. These eating establishments were liked by both Chinese and Western hungry gold miners for their cheap prices and well-cooked food.the waiters were not attentive to the needs of the guests. these places were the Chinese equivalent of American cafes and diners. They stayed in the U. 36–66. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. A small kitchen. hoping to go back home once they made a fortune. 1988). they were unostentatious eating places. years before San Francisco’s Chinatown took shape.11 These restaurants were established to serve the needs of local Chinese customers. most of the restaurants were decorated simply. Sometimes called “chow-chows”. because the restaurant cooks were not trained chefs and they could only provide what they already knew how to cook. a few tables and tall stools were all such establishments had. The furniture was usually crude and austere. without their wives and children and often saw themselves as sojourners. Bowls of noodles and rice porridge were usually served alongside the 11 Although it was said that Chinese eateries probably could be found earlier in Hawaii. these Chinese male workers constituted the majority of custom- ers in the earliest Chinese restaurants. As a matter of fact. 68. Until the end of the Second World War. as “coolies” and usually worked in gold mines and later on railroads. See Jie Zhang. 34 . Asian America: Chinese and Japanese in the United States Since 1850 (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press. Without tablecloths and napkins. Hanging triangular yellow silk flags with Chinese characters in their storefronts. The bulk of the earlier Chinese immi- grants were either workers or peasants from rural areas of southern coastal provinces of China. a number of Chinese eating houses were established in the mining regions of California. 1999).

” in Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States: The Performance of Group Identity. G. China to Chinatown: Chinese Food in the West (London: Reaktion Books Ltd. the issue of class also exerted an influence on its acceptance in America. 2002). A. besides race. They believed that Chinese people ate everything from mice and rats to dogs and cats. in which the first process appears to be “strange people equals strange food”: the dominant social group denigrates the strangeness of intruders by assault- ing their odd foodways. disgusting and barbaric. salted eggs. Furthermore. mysterious and dangerous place full of evil activities like gambling and prostitution.15 This conforms to the two-process formula on food and groups of people raised by Susan Kalcik.13 All those food items were familiar to Cantonese immigrants who had come from villages. 37–42. 1986). cultural difference as well as the many social problems that existed in the Chinese ethnic enclave. etc. Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants (Yin and Yang Press. 1984). most Americans held a negative atti- tude toward Chinese food. The Chinese Experience in America (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. The humble setting and simple fare in the earliest restaurants had a great impact on the way Americans perceived Chinese food and Chinese culture at the very beginning. ed. the majority of Ameri- cans saw Chinatown as an immoral. Few of the nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants who introduced Chinese food to the United States were professional cooks.14 Because of the different eating habits between the two cultures. dry sausages. 15 J. Linda Keller Brown and Kay Mussell (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press. 136–37.16 In the case of Chinese food. 16 Susan Kalcik. 2010). 14 Shih-shan Henry Tsai. “Ethnic Foodways in America: Symbol and Performance of Iden- tity. They thought what Chinese people ate was strange. Roberts. Due to racial prejudice. 35 . The food served in “chow-chows” bore a close resemblance (if not exactly the same) to Cantonese country-style home cooking. 18–23. This food was served to relieve their hunger for home cooking. Since most of the restaurants were run and patronized by lower-class Cantonese immigrants of peasant backgrounds. 37. they were only familiar with the food practices of their home regions in rural areas of 13 John Jung. both the dining environment and the food were by no means refined and elegant.typical dishes of roast pork.

In a pamphlet entitled “Some Reasons for Chinese Exclusion: Meat vs. When the eco- nomic recession took place in California.S. The initial tolerance towards Chinese people diminished and anti-Chinese sentiments prevailed among the white workers in the American West.lisabug. Hsia. How America Eats: A Social History of U. the eating-house would be as bare as a barn. assuredly.S.19 At that time. Attracted by cheap price and filling food. Mayer. Which Shall Survive?”. In the latter half of the nineteenth century.pdf. “Eating the Exotic: The Growing Acceptability of Chinese Cuisine in San Francisco. poor non-Chinese labor workers frequented these establishments. 1958). due to the increasingly competitive labor market. Once upon a City: New York from 1890 to 1910 (New York: Macmillan. White workers began to attack Chinese by the way they ate. 18 Jung. net/EatingTheExotic. only a small number of white customers patronized Chinese restaurants. Sweet and Sour. John Hubert Greusel betrayed disdainful feelings when writing about a meal in Manhattan’s Chinatown in 1893: Through a narrow hall and up a dirty stairs. labor leader Samuel Gompers despised and degraded Chinese laborers for their eating habits. Rice: American Manhood against Asiatic Coolieism. brings one to the Chinese Delmonico restaurant… every few moments you will see a Chinese pick up a bone or a bit of refuse food and deliberately send it flying under the table to the dirty floor! A greedy cat munches away under one of the tables. 2013). According to an 1898 guide- book. 176. the situation became more serious. quoted in Grace M. Food and Culture (Lanham. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. http://www. 36 . 1848–1915. 35–36. Were it not for the red banners on the walls.18 Such inelegant restaurants reinforced the inferior image of Chinese food and Chinese people in the eyes of Americans. These earliest restaurants left Americans with the impression that Chinese food was rustic and Chinese restaurants were filthy.Kwangtung Province. 417–18. and.” accessed February 17.17 The peasant background of these cooks restrained them from bringing a sophisticated and refined Chinese cooking to the U. 2014. the tension be- tween white immigrant workers and Chinese workers intensified. 19 Lisa L. it is as uninviting as a pig-sty. Chinese restaurants in San Francisco found their regular non-Chinese 17 Jennifer Jensen Wallach.

Johnson. Chinese restaurateurs did not make special efforts to cater to Western customers. usually known as “slummers. 12. gambling houses and street fights which concurred with the stereotypes. New York Chinatown became a destination for Bohemians after its emergence in the 1870s. the sensual and unconstrained life in Chinatown provided them with an alternative to the morally conservative and rigid middle-class American life style.”21 After a long tour in Chinatown. “Let’s Eat Chinese Tonight. See Hsia. seeing the increasing number of non-Chinese clientele. “Eating the Exotic”. a group of young cultural rebels known as “Bohemians” were worthy of special attention. 23 Andrew Coe.” 22 Ibid.customers among the “laboring classes and outlaws. “Rich with pungent smells and tastes.” American Heritage 38. 37 . 21 Hsia. 98–107. At first.23 These young free-spirited artists and writers frequented Chinese restaurants to show their rebellious attitude towards mainstream culture.”24 The less sanitary environment. some of them expected to see a vice district with opium dens. Bryan R.” Ordinarily escorted by white guides. The “all you could eat for one dollar” meal they offered was very appealing to both Chinese and non-Chinese poor working-class customers. 156–57. “I’ll Take Chop Suey”. 672. Chop Suey: A Culinary History of Chinese Food in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Others came to experi- ence Oriental culture in the picturesque “little China. Chinese restaurants had the price ad- vantage. 24 Barbas.22 Among these adventurers.. the culinary boundary was nevertheless crossed by the middle and upper-class European Americans. However. To them.”20 The exotic atmos- phere in the segregated Chinatown also drew adventure seekers and tourists. December 1987. Chinese restaurants proved particularly fertile ground for the Bohe- mians’ exotic fantasies. “Eating the Exotic. the free and easy atmosphere and the unpretentious table manners of Chinese diners were great attractions to those young countercultural people. Chinese restaurants gradually added a number of Western dishes 20 Compared with other ethnic restaurants. it was natural for the adventure seekers to appease their hunger in Chinese restaurants. Although it was usually tea and snacks instead of a full meal that they ordered on account of hesitation to try real Chinese food. which made their visit complete. 2009).

The top floor was usually given to wealthy Chinese elite and middle and upper-class white customers. 125–26. 672.” Sometimes. So 25 Joel Denker. multistory establishments whose chefs were capable of preparing banquets featuring the same costly ingredients and sophisticated preparation as used by Guangzhou’s (Kwangtung) finest chefs. potatoes and steaming coffee. which were served in high-end restaurants to satisfy the needs of the local Chinese elite.27 On this floor. 29 Ibid. 1985). and dark wooden stools and tables imported from China.26 More often than not... a newspaper editor who attended a grand banquet in a Chinatown restaurant in 1865. Chop Suey. the decoration was elaborate: “Most were decorated with nostalgic reminders of their distant homeland: scrolls of cherished poetry. “Communicating through Architecture: San Francisco Chinese Restaurants” (PhD diss. stewed pigeon and fungus. 38 . Despite of the abundance of food. Colorado: Westview Press. 59–65. plates. out of more than a dozen Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. 96. these restaurants were located in a two or three-story building. when the attend- ance was large. fried eggs. “Eating the Exotic.30 Samuel Bowles. bird’s nest soup. in which different floors were used to serve different their menus such as steak. University of California. 30 Coe. mostly based on social classes. A minister who dined in a restaurant in Chinatown in 1876 noted that it was complete with knives. forks. Thus. 27 Hsia.”28 It was usually in such settings that lavish banquets were held. The World on A Plate: A Tour through the History of America’s Ethnic Cuisines (Boulder. 2003). During the late 1860s and 1870s. He com- mented that the dinner was peculiarly sumptuous – a variety of dishes were served including Chinese national delicacies such as fired shark’s fin. tablecloths and napkins. richly carved wooden screens and altars. 59. “I’ll Take Chop Suey”. three or four were elegant. elaborately-decorated Chinese restaurants equipped with white tablecloths and shining silverwares emerged. Bowles found that the dishes were anything but agreeable to his palate.25 A number of grand. over a hundred courses were offered at a banquet. 26 Barbas. such establishments were also known as “banquet restaurants.” 28 Tonia Chao.29 Chinese merchants also managed to introduce some luxury Chinese delicacies such as bird’s nest and sea cucumber. elaborated upon his experience at the banquet. Berkley.

Despite the occasional patronage of white tourists and labor workers. They had to with- draw into their ethnic enclaves and take menial occupations.. the American public considered Chinese food repulsive and unappetizing during the latter half of the nineteenth century. 34 H. The Chinese restaurant industry underwent great change at the turn of the twentieth century. One piece of evidence was the 1871 anti-Chinese riot in Los Angeles. Many of them were forced to enter the service sector. the labor market became much more competitive in California and other states in the Pacific Northwest. 33 Roberts. put Chinese people into an extremely vulnerable position. Asian America.he left before the end of the dinner and eased his hunger in an American restaurant. Blaming the low-paid Chinese immigrants for taking away their jobs. the main customers of Chinese restaurants were still Chinese in this period. especially the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. 32 Daniels. 144. They still tended to shun from Chinese food that looked strange to their eyes and tasted weird to their palates.32 The increasing hostility towards Chinese workers and the enforcement of a series of anti-Chinese legislations. The ratio was even higher in the middle and eastern states. like Samuel Bowles. 58–59. white laborers’ resentments towards Chinese got out of control as of the 1870s.34 31 Ibid. both physically and men- tally. Cong Hua qiao dao Hua ren: er shi shi ji MeiGuo Hua ren she hui fa zhan shi 從華僑到華人: 二十世紀美國華人社會發展史 [From overseas Chi- nese to Chinese American: A history of the Development of Chinese American 39 . Due to racial discrimination and culinary prejudice.33 In 1930. such as the laundry or restaurant business. Mark Lai.31 Apparently. generally speaking. After the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. the majority of Americans were not ready to accept such Chinese delicacies. about one fifth to one fourth. China to Chinatown. Legalized discrimination and persistent physical violence from “anti-coolie” leagues and labor unions expelled Chinese from lucrative trades. in which 21 Chinese were killed. the number of Chinese in the restaurant industry was about six percent of the total male Chinese population in California. It did not gain acceptance by mainstream Americans until the beginning of the twentieth century. 104–07.

The discrimina- tory laws passed by the local government and the physical harassments from white people made the lives of Chinese in California challenging. The Chinese community realized that one way to make a profit from the wider market was to develop a tourist trade.S.35 Seeing the decline of Chinese custom- ers after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Chinese merchants initiated a campaign to “clean up Chinatown. They presented a number of Chinese dishes that were highly adapted to Western taste. Believing it was the notorious image of the old Chinatowns that scared American tour- ists away. 40 . Chinese restaurateurs were eager to court customers from outside the Chinese community. where Chinese were not seen as big of an economic threat as they were out west. New York Chinatown took shape in the late 1870s and became the second largest Chinatown in the U. Chop suey means animal intestines in Canton- ese. 99. but also made great efforts in adapting their food and décor to European- American preferences. bean sprouts. 35 Denker. As a result. Many Chinese relocated to eastern and central states. and water chestnuts. pig’s tripe. and even drove a large number of them out of the state.” They tried to change the negative image of Chinatowns by suppressing the vices and crimes that took place there. Chinese restaurateurs went to great lengths to please mainstream Euro- pean American customers. 1992). Restaurant operators renovated their establishments and upgraded their facilities to at- tract Western customers. 85. a growing interest in non-Western cultures and Oriental sensuality among middle-class white Americans in the period of American imperial expansion was another reason for the Chinese food craze in this period. Chop suey was a stir-fried mixture that originally included chicken gizzards and liver. Among those dishes. which was known as chop suey. Racial antagonism isolated Chinese from mainstream society and confined them to Chinatowns. Besides the efforts of Chinese restaurateurs. The World on a Plate. Society during the Twentieth Century] (Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Company. But when it appeared in Chinese restaurants serving American clientele. the white patronage of Chinese restaurants increased rapidly. one aroused public attention. A number of them moved to New York. The situation faced by Chinese was the worst in the west. They not only paid great attention to sanitation.

a high-ranking Chinese government official of the Qing Empire. It was said during his visit to New York City in 1896. The New York Times said in 1900 that “judging from the outbreak of Chinese restaurants all over town. and celery and onions were typically added.S. Some Chinese immi- grants also mentioned that they had eaten chop suey in China before they came to the U.meat usually took the place of intestines. Restaurateurs capitalized on Li’s story and advertised chop suey as Li’s favorite. However.” New York Times. thanks to Li’s visit.36 There are several versions of the story about the origins of chop suey.” “chop suey parlors”. 38 Liu.”38 Chinese restaurants mushroomed and 36 Although the name chop suey was used in America. Due to its popularity. it wasn’t an uncommon practice for villagers to improvise a dish by putting rice. The most well-known version involves a historical character – Li Hongzhang. In the rural areas of China. January 29. Since Li’s trip to America generated a lot of publicity and every detail attracted media attention. the envoy. This dish might have country origins in Kwantung Province. “Chop Suey: From Chinese Food to Chinese American Food. 1 (2009): 1–24. etc. also see Haiming Liu. having no appetite for Western food. And besides that.37 No matter if the anecdote is true or not. many Chinese restaurants named themselves “chop suey houses. chop suey won the hearts of many New Yorkers and drew more diners to Chinese restaurants. stuck to Chinese food and his favorite dish was called chop suey. but it is generally considered an American creation. quoted in “Heard About Town. Chop suey became one of the most important reasons that Americans set foot in Chinatown. “Chop Suey as Imagined Authentic Chinese Food”.” Chinese America: History and Perspectives 1 (1987): 87–99. whatever vegetables was at hand and a little bit of meat together. 9. After its ingredients were modified. chop suey had already existed in New York’s Chinatown before Li’s visit. historians like Renqiu Yu challenged the credibility of the story by pointing out that there were no historical records showing Li relished chop suey in the U. chop suey quickly became a well-known dish to Americans. 1900.S. no. it might have been a coun- try specialty of Kwantung Province. which were often perceived as “inedible” in America. 41 . “Chop Suey as Imagined Authentic Chinese Food: The Culinary Identity of Chinese Restaurants in the United State. this particular dish aroused plenty of public interest. the city has gone ‘chop suey’ mad. 37 Renqiu Yu.” Journal of Transnational American Studies 1.

restau- rants were decorated in a pseudo-oriental style and the Chinese food there was agreeable to the Western palates. “Chinese Laundries Gone. 2012). 39 Jung. the number of Chinese restaurants in large cities in California also multiplied quickly. In order to attract Western clientele. Mar 27. San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide to Its History and Architec- ture (San Francisco: City Lights.42 Besides Chinese American dishes like chop suey.”40 Seeing the obsession of night life among the New York middle-class in the post-war years. 42 . “By 1903 more than a hundred chop suey restaurants could be found in New York between 14th and 45th street. There were also cheap. Probably inspired by the “chop suey craze” in New York City. from Third to Eighth avenues. 42 Ibid. 41.”39 In 1924. there were already more than 250 Chinese restaurants in New York City and “the patronage of the Chinese restaurants is increasing in leaps and bounds. Choy. Chinese restau- rants also served a variety of Western dishes. 41 Ibid. just like any other first-class American eatery.expanded beyond Chinatown. The earthquake gave Chinese people an opportunity to reconstruct their com- munity.” Los Angeles Times. Many fancy Chinese restaurants were established “with silk-embroidered panels covering their walls and tables of teakwood with inlaid mother-of- pearl in ornate designs.”41 Catering to theater-goers. Restaurants Are Many. 169. 1924. Chinese merchants struggled to rebuild Chinatown into an Oriental City to attract Western tourists. This time it seemed more appealing to Westerners and thus quickly became a tourist attraction.44 A new and clean Chinese quarter was built in San Francisco. 40 Carroll Raymond G. Sweet and Sour. Chinese restaurateurs were striving to make a profit by accommodating this need. 43–44. Like in New York City. small Chinese cafes that anticipated lower-class customers. 44 Philip P.. Chop Suey. the Chinese restaurants in the heart of the theater and hotel district equipped themselves with jazz bands and large dancing floors. 43 Coe. the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a turning point in the development of the Chinese restaurant business in the city.43 Back to the west coast. many Chinese restaurants with huge signs of “chop suey” were established.

the number jumped to 28. San Francisco and Los Angeles. Chinese restaurants rapidly sprung up across the nation. chop suey and chow mein were served in Army mess halls. the number was 44 before the 1905 earthquake.46 In big cities like New York.” 2. Furthermore.47 Thanks to its popularity. 48 Liu. from the 1900s to 1960s. Mark Lai. “Chop Suey as Imagined Authentic Chinese Food. By 1923. 145. 49 Most cookbooks didn’t go far beyond giving recipes for the most common and popular dishes in American Chinese restaurants. wom- ens’ magazines and newspapers began to give recipes for chop suey as well as other popular Chinese dishes. An Italian-American entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci capitalized on the opportunity and founded the brand “Chun King. 47 H.” Paulucci’s company manufactured prepackaged Chinese food such as canned chow mein and chop suey. food companies like “La Choy” began to produce canned chop suey ingredients. the number increased to 78. chop suey was synonymous with Chinese food in the U. In response to these requests.48 Chop suey was so popular that customers even requested it at non-Chinese restaurants.49 This made it much easier to prepare Chinese food in non-Chinese restaurants as well as in restaurants operated by non- Chinese restaurateurs. Cookbooks. Veterans who acquired a taste for Oriental food during the war created a demand for such food when they came home. In the 1920s. by the late 1950s. American restaurants put chop suey and chow mein on their menus. The World on A Plate. China to Chinatown. 100–05. 50 Denker. this made the Americans who developed an interest in chop suey from their dining experience in Chinese restaurants capable of preparing Chinese food in their home kitchens.In San Francisco.” Table 2. 393. 46 Roberts. Cong Hua qiao dao Hua ren. about 20 percent of the American popula- tion frequented 4500 Chinese restaurants scattered across the continental United States. After 20 years. While only a small number of American customers patronized Chinese restaurants in large cities in the 19th century. During World War II. the city directory listed only five Chinese restaurants in 1903.50 Mass-production of Chinese food suggested that Americans began to incorporate chop suey and chow mein into their regular 45 Chao.S. 43 .45 In Los Angeles. “Communicating through Architecture.

See Woking Through Time: The Chinese Food Experience in San Francisco.cdlib. especially when compared with the substantial amount of literature that came out in the decades that followed.diets. “The Chinese in California. before the 1950s.52 Besides that. 2005).oac. Why did only the simple and inexpensive dishes like chop suey and chow mein gain acceptance and why did Chinese food in America become so dif- ferent from its original versions back in China? Cultural assimilation played an important role in shaping Chinese food. up until the 1950s. http://www. San Francisco Chronicle noted that as late as 1972 “… Chinatown is still a mysterious world to most whites… who only know how to order… chop suey and beetle juice. the Chinese food scene in America had to conform to the culinary norms of white Americans. see John Higham.: Rutgers University Press.” See Online Archive of California. Chinese restaurateurs removed “controversial” ingredients and got rid of “strange” flavors from their dishes in agreement with European 51 Sylvia Lovegren. 93. while other stir-fried main dishes were simply categorized as “miscellaneous.J. immigrant foodways underwent the process of cultural assimilation. Chinese Historical Society of American Collection. eating practices and culinary culture. In order to please European Americans. 1850–1925”. there were few books that introduced sophisticated Chinese dishes.S. 52 On the menus of Chinese restaurants. who were the racial majority in the United States. chop suey and chow mein had become as ubiquitous as meat loaf in the U. Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Thus. Anglo-conformity was quite strong and American nativism was in full swing during this period. 1955).”53 Americans’ understanding of Chinese food and Chinese culinary culture was still quite limited. N. the American public only accepted a very narrow range of highly Americanized Chinese 019m2/?query=Chinese+restaurant+menu.51 Far from embracing Chinese cuisine. 1860–1925 (New Brunswick. 53 “Beetle juice” meant soy sauce. chop suey and chow mein usually occupied the utmost important positions. 27. 54 On American nativism in the latter half of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. By the time the war was over.54 As the anti-foreign spirit was expressed in the culinary field. Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism. 44 .

Realizing Chinese food could be a comfort- able and delicious alternative to their daily diet. 2006). onions. it was labeled “genuine American chop suey. 57 Liu. Thus. 45 . 56 Lovegren.”57 In this way. Ethnic restaurants are supposed to serve the social function of preserving eth- nic foodways as Samantha Barbas has asserted.56 Without soy sauce. Sherrie Inness said that Americans’ favorite chow mein and chop suey were “nothing more than the worst examples of the excesses of Chinese-American cooking. and Class at the Dinner Table (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Gender. chili powder and tomatoes. onions. 669.American eating habits. 51. these recipes bore little resemblance to the original version back in China. by serving home-styled food that lower-class immigrants were accustomed to. Under the forces of cultural assimilation.” Jennifer Wallach held a similar view. ground beef.” 17.59 In the earlier period. 91. Secret Ingredients: Race. 58 Wallach. 55 Sherrie Inness used the word “tame” to describe the Chinese American food that was made to appeal to the Anglo-American palate. Chinese restau- rants paid less attention to the needs of the Chinese community. and another included bacon. Focusing on courting white American customers. chopped beef. 59 Barbas. a bland and “tame”55 version of Chinese food was presented in public settings. chop suey morphed into a different dish and was detached from its cultural roots. “I’ll take Chop Suey”. Fashionable Food. the functions of Chinese restaurants also differed from the earlier period. One version called for green peppers. “Chop Suey as Imagined Authentic Chinese Food. possessing little or no connection to authentic Chinese recipes. ginger and other ex- otic Chinese vegetables. turnips. “the Chinese food that first bewildered and intrigued American eaters reflected very little of the vast culinary imagination of China. When chop suey came back to China and was served to the GIs and American businessmen in restaurants during and after the Second World War. See Sherrie Inness. the tame Chinese American food could by no means represent real Chinese cooking and the acceptance of Chinese food by the American public was very limited in this period. tomato soup and spaghetti to be baked together. 176. The Handy Book of Recipes for Twenty-Five gave several recipes for chop suey in 1931. corn. not only did Chinese food change. How America Eats. Americans incorporated popular Chinese dishes into their diets.”58 Thus.

most of the restaurants became more like an American institution than a Chinese one.61 Although a large number of American customers pa- tronized Chinese restaurants. especially when male workers were unable to cook for themselves and thus incapable of preserving their ethnic food- ways in their home kitchens. the needs of Chinese customers were by no means the priority of large chop suey houses. they were never liked nor considered ethnic cuisine by the Chinese community.60 In some large establishments. which Americans regard almost with 60 Jung. cocktail bars were installed and music bands were hired to cater to Western preferences. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. menus often featured a large number of American dishes alongside a small selection of Chinese dishes. Some restaurants even adopted Western style of decoration . In the restaurants located outside China- towns. In a 1938 guide to San Francisco restaurants. 89. The customers “had no interest in the restaurant as an eating house” but were drawn by the free and sensual night- life here.62 As the cultural territory of white customers expanded in these chop suey restaurants. Although chop suey and other “tame” Chinese American dishes dominated large Chinese restaurants. H. According to Sing Ching Sen. 46 . 58.” May 1925. 62 G. a cook in a Chinese restaurant in New York in the 1920s. Chinese preferences were overlooked.” See Lovegren. Even in the restaurants within Chinatowns. but that many dishes enjoyed by the Chinese. “Communicating through Architecture. after changes had been made to ac- commodate white customers. Carton 93: 1 Him Mark Lai Research files. Sweet and Sour.Chinese restaurants played an important role in keeping the foodways of Cantonese immigrants intact. the cultural domain of Chinese customers naturally shrunk. Ruth Thompson said of a Chinatown restaurant. dancing floors were added. #5.63 However. However. most of them were actually attracted by the entertainment rather than the food. 63 Most of the Chinese people were not fond of chop suey. V3. A considerable number of Western dishes appeared on the menus. Danton. chop suey was “no good for China boy. Fashionable Food.” 130. “The Lotus Bowl is Americanized Chinese food! One who goes there may know he is getting Chinese flavors and cooking. “Chinese Restaurants in America.neon signs. Restaurants-General Files (Pre-World War II). naugahyde booths. formica tabletops and fluorescent lights. 61 Chao.

47 . The evolution of Chinese food and Chinese restaurants in the U. the mundane food served in the earliest Chinese restaurants can be regarded as “meals” and those offered at banquets as “feasts. while only letting the ritual performance – banquet- style eating – take place in the public sphere. in order to get recognition. Americans usually saw Chinese as barbarians. 1937). “Communicating through Architecture. Con- sequently. 2007).horror. Twiss (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. ed.” In the cultural environment in which white racial group dominated. the Chinese community had to hide the real Chinese cooking - their daily diets . these large establishments were also known for catering Chinese banquets for social gatherings. “Culinary Encounters: Food.” in The Archaeology of Food and Identity. Identity. No longer serving dishes that resembled Chinese home cooking. 88. In analyzing human culi- nary practices. K.S. Even though there were some unpretentious small eateries like fan deem or “noodle shops” in Chinatowns which targeted Chinese customers. Eating Around San Francisco (San Francisco: Sutton- house Ltd. Michael Dietler made a distinction between “the routinized practices of daily consumption that we may call meals” and “the more self- consciously performative rituals of consumption that are called feasts. 227. Often described as 64 Chao. were rarely seen in chop suey restaurants. are simply not included.”65 In this vein.”64 Chinese restaurateurs avoided serving the dishes that Chinese enjoyed but repelled white Americans in case the “strange” ingredients and flavors would scare off white customers.” 135. 65 Michael Dietler. in this period is a reflection of white supremacy. Besides serving Western customers. Chinese restaurants were no longer the social centers and havens that were reserved exclusively for the Chinese community in the earlier years. the needs and expectations of Chinese customers were ignored to a great extent. quoted in Ruth Thompson and Chef Louis Hanges. Chinese restaurants lost the function of preserving the original foodways of immigrants. American perceptions of Chinese food were influenced by the racial attitudes held by white Americans towards Chinese. and Colonialism. their presence was often overshadowed by the ubiquitous chop suey houses. which used to serve in “chow-chows” the domestic sphere to avoid attacks from white people on their food habits. Cantonese country-styled dishes.

Chinese restaurateurs usually built and decorated their restaurants with Oriental motifs. 68 “China Has Most Things Chinese But Chop Suey Isn’t to Be Found There. the Chinese ethnic group held a subordinate cultural position in America. 40. savages.heathens. The World on A Plate.” 120. morally inferior. “Communicating through Architecture. A look at the ambiance of Chinese restaurants will reveal the subordinate position of Chinese culture in these establishments. Chinese eating habits were generally looked down upon in American society and became one of the reasons white Americans assaulted Chinese people. green tiles. “for pure delight in compounding viands that taste like medicine and yet will not cure you of anything the Chinese cook is the world’s peer. mysteriousness and Otherness from Chinese 66 Ronald Takaki. carved figurines and flowering plants. China to Chinatown. 1924. palace lanterns.66 European-American superiority was exhibited through American perceptions of Chinese food. distant land for most Americans.71 In the first half of the twentieth century. As Joel Denker said in The World on a Plate. They used cultural symbols like “red doors.” Los Angeles Times. (Boston: Little. 99–101. The Los Angeles Times said mockingly about Chinese culinary skills in 1924. easily assimilated dishes. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. 69 Denker. precious ceramics and delicate embroideries” to create a pseudo-Chinese am- bience.”69 The cheap price was an indicator of the inferior status of Chinese food among other ethnic foods. rev. Chinese food was typically cheap in price. Brown and Company.67 Although Americans gradually ac- cepted Chinese food. 1998).”68 In addition. Sweet and Sour. quickly assembled. Words like “barbarian”. unknown. May 25. the negative views of Chinese cooking died hard. the “Chinese-American” menu in Chinese restaurants was “made of cheap. “disgusting” and “filthy” were often used to describe Chinese food in Western literature. China still remained an alien. 147. which European-American customers could easily grasp. paired with stone lions and golden dragons. American customers expected to see symbols that would evoke a sense of distance. 71 Chao. ed. 48 .70 They presented an image of Chinese restaurants that conformed to the stereotype of China and Chinessness in American minds. 98. 70 Jung. 67 Roberts. childlike and lustful. To fulfill the Western fantasies of Oriental sensuality and exoticism. golden letters and silver couplets.

such as Jewish or African ethnics. but had to accommodate white preferences and subjected their cuisine and food culture to white cultural he- gemony. Mar 27. except in the restaurants within or near their ethnic neighborhoods. the results were shaped by white expectations. it is not hard to imagine that Chinese food could by no means be regarded as high-class cuisine. Carroll. She said that Americans “suspended traditional racial prejudices and opened themselves to 49 . Although some scholars considered the acceptance of Chinese food in America in this period as a suspension of racial prejudice in the culinary field. Their cultural expectations exerted a huge influence on the way restaurants were decorated. which combines many ethnic foodways.” Los Angeles Times. Under this circum- stance. “Chinese Laundries Gone. The Los Angeles Times said in 1924 that “nowadays the entire public is eating Chinese dishes and thinks nothing of it. Taking the inferior social status of Chinese in American society into consideration. based on their understanding of “the Orient.73 I argue that the inferior status of Chinese food reflected the unequal 72 Raymond G. white cultural domination and supremacy in Chinese restaurants was too obvious to be ignored. Although there were also customers from other racial groups who frequented Chinese restaurants. different ethnic foods followed different paths of acceptance. 1924.”72 Serious cultural appreciation of Chinese food was rarely detected among Americans. their particular pref- erences were rarely met by Chinese restaurateurs. 73 Samantha Barbas saw white patronage of Chinese restaurants in the earlier period as a suspension of racial prejudice when it came to eating. Chinese American foodscapes were mainly shaped by the desires of white Americans. Although American eating is usually considered a multi-ethnic mix. the Chinese community could hardly assert their cultural selves or build their cultural identity through food.” Although the market also played an important role in the creation of ambience in Chinese restaurants because Chinese restaurateurs needed to cater to the preferences and expectations of their customers to make profits. Although it was usually Chinese restaurateurs who were in charge of the restaurant design. Racial supremacy of white American society was exhibited through the way European-Americans ap- proached Chinese food.restaurants. Restaurants Are Many. White Americans inflicted an external but decisive influence on the design of Chinese restaurants.

American consumption of Chinese food in this period was a manifestation of white supremacy rather than cultural appreciation.S. A comparison between Chinese cuisine and a particular white cuisine would make the racial hierarchy more evident. unlike Chinese food that took almost half a century to become accepted. In 1918. imagination.” 74 Wallach. 88. The cultural developments of Chinese America reflected the economic and political developments of the community and its relations with society at large. “Eating the Exotic. “I’ll Take Chop Suey”. usually starting as small taverns or boarding houses serving single male immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century. However. which was not unfamiliar to the Western world since the Renaissance.74 Americans accepted a wide range of food items. ed. was much easier. 169. Compared with Chinese food. the acceptance of Italian food in the U. Lisa L. 1880–1930. macaroni and cheese.or anti-Chinese feeling in the U. Like the earli- est Chinese restaurants. See Barbas. “The American Response to Italian Food.” See Hsia. like spaghetti. How America Eats. tomato sauce. 50 . “Because of the true artist blood in every Italian’s veins. a sensitiveness to fine shades of flavors. Good cooking requires vision. Hsia also believed that the consumption of Chinese food was not necessarily contingent upon the Euro-American racial attitudes towards Chinese: “The history of eating Chinese food in America cannot be viewed as a simple parallel to the history of pro. to beauty of color and a range of diverse culinary and cultural experiences” and argued this culinary boundary crossing was the first steps toward cultural exchange. Carole M. within decades of its arrival. Counihan (New York: Routledge. Good Housekeeping answered the question of “why is Italian cooking so good?”. Italian restaurants also had very humble origins. American eating was racialized since there was a racial hierarchy be- tween different ethnic foods as there was between different ethnic groups.S. 75 Harvey Levenstein.racial relation between the Chinese group and the white group in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. etc.75 Italian cooking was often associated with the nation’s artistic talent.” in Food in the USA: A Reader. Ethnic food can be a symbol that reflects social attitude and interracial relations. 2002). Italian cuisine became one of the most popular ethnic cui- sines in America.

took a shorter amount of time in getting the recognition from the white-dominated American society.” Good Housekeeping. 78 Coe. Most restau- rants offered customers reassuring and familiar dishes. Chinese American dishes gradually lost their exoticism. The courses usually included were chow mein. ethnic food was closely associated with the political. 65 (October 1918). At this particular time. 77 At this time. quoted in Grace Savage Selden. in the pre-Civil Rights era.”76 Italian food. “Serving Ethnicity: Italian Restaurants in New York City.77 Chinese American foodscapes in the public sphere was dominated by bland. April 27–30. 1910–1940” (paper presented at the conference of “Trends in American Studies in Europe”. Chinese food in America stopped evolving. along with Italian culture. the homogenous Chinese American foodscapes were awaiting a major transformation. Chinese food reflected the subordinate social status of the Chinese ethnic group as well as unequal racial relations in the United States. The dominance of chop suey in Chinese American foodscapes was not challenged until the late 1960s when new immigrants arrived. Thus. 76 Simone Cinotto. Chop Suey.”78 Since non-Chinese food purveyors presented their versions of chop suey and chow mein. Nothing that was considered strange to the average diner was included. egg foo young and fried rice. the mainstay in Chinese restaurants was “family dinner”. economic status of its home country (place) and the hier- archy of cuisines could reflect the social hierarchy between different racial or ethnic groups in the U. chop suey. Americanized Cantonese dishes: “Their food stagnated into bland and unexciting dishes that were now far removed from the preparations of the Pearl River Delta. Chinese restaurateurs suffered a loss of cultural capital and became less competitive in the market. That is where Latins have the advantage over us. 2000). As a cuisine of a white racial group.form and composition. In the 1950s. 51 . it faced fewer barriers in gaining acceptance than Chinese cuisine did. “Vegetable Victories. which was a multicourse meal including a few American favorite Chinese dishes for a low price. University of Torino.S. 50. To sum up. 210.

Chinese in California 1850–1925. Grand View Hotel Menu: Chinese-American business miscellany. [1900s]-1952. 21. online archive of California 52 . AAS ARC 2000/37: fol.Chinese Tea Garden.

53 .

54 .

an increasing number of non-quota Chinese immigrants flowed into American territory. enjoyed a harmonious relationship between 1937 and 1944.. See Birgit Zinzius. the image of Chinese Americans also improved. A landmark work was Buwei Yang Chao’s How to Cook and Eat in Chinese. also elevated the prestige of China. 2005). Americans no longer saw them as strange aliens but loyal citizens who fought for their country. political refugees. including former nationalist government officials and their families. and an annual quota of 105 was established for persons of Chinese ancestry. For a start.I. In this book. They appeared during the Second World War. Buwei Yang Chao. came under various immigra- tion acts. Chinese America: Stereotype and Reality (New York: Peter Lang. The Transformation of Chinese American Foodscapes 3. 31–50. they fought side by side with white comrades.s and the alien wives and children of American citizens. after 1944. a Chinese physician and the wife of the famous linguist Yuen Ren Chao. many were well educated and had better cultural awareness. American immigration laws towards the Chinese changed significantly during and after the war. And the visit of Madame Chiang Kai-shek to the U. They began to bring new tastes and culinary ideas to the U. It was cookbooks that first introduced new types of Chinese cuisine to the American public.S. as well as a number of students and professionals.S.1 Culinary Diversification – The Chinese Restaurant Revolution New types of Chinese food actually made their presence felt in America earlier than the late 1960s. The Chinese Experience in America. The entry of new immigrants contributed greatly to the introduction of new cuisines and novel culinary ideas. Tsai. 114–18. including the Chinese brides of Chinese American G. On the change of immigration laws during and after World War II. China and the U.79 Among these new immigrants. 55 . not only introduced a variety of Chinese regional 79 As wartime allies. the Chi- nese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. which was first published in 1945.S. Following that.Chapter 3. which was often called “the Age of Admiration” based on the affinity between the two countries. In addition. Moreover. With young Chinese Americans enlisted in the armed forces of the U.S.

83 Madeline Y. Without those terms. ed. only a handful of restaurants offered non-Cantonese dishes . the subtle art of Chinese cooking couldn’t have been adequately introduced to the Western world. Cooking the Chinese Way (New York: Arco Publishing Company INC. Both restaurants deliberately took chop suey off their menus and served more sophisticated dishes and diverse regional food. The number of Chinese restaurants increased dramatically. between 1943 and 1965. The Joy of Chinese Cookery (New York: Grosset & Dunlap. because the number of the new immigrants that came during this period was relatively small. rev. 2008). Chop Suey. but also invented a number of important English terms for Chi- nese cooking methods like “red cooking” and “stir-frying” with the help of her daughter and husband. Take San Francisco for instance: between 1960 and 1984.80 In the following decades. ed. Hsu.Kan’s Restaurant and Mandarin restaurant in San Francisco being the two earliest. 81 Kenneth Lo.cuisines. I would like to talk about their contributions and achievements in the post-1965 era. many comparable cookbooks were published. 1949). was not enough to cause a sea change. 1955) and Doreen Yen Hung Feng. they did not make their presence felt until after 1965.S. the number of Chinese restaurants 80 Buwei Yang Chao. the real metamorphosis of Chinese Ameri- can foodscapes didn’t take place until the late 1960s. (New York: the John Day Company. 1954).82 The restaurant owners of these two establishments were knowledgeable about culinary culture. such as Kenneth Lo’s Cook- ing the Chinese Way and Doreen Yen Hung Feng’s The Joy of Chinese Cookery. Chinese restaurants proliferated and Chinese food diversified. 84 Although some chefs who made great contributions to the transformation of Chinese American culinary culture came to the U. 220–21. “From Chop Suey to Mandarin Cuisine: Fine Dining and the Refashioning of Chinese Ethnicity During the Cold War Era.S. They criticized the poor quality of Chinese food served in most chop suey joints and advertised the authenticity of their dishes. Sucheng Chan and Madeline Y. Thus. 82 Coe. How to Cook and Eat in Chinese. the culinary influence they exercised in the U. Hsu (Philadelphia: Temple University Press.. which introduced more sophisticated Chinese cooking and gave recipes for non-Cantonese dishes to American readers.” in Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture.83 However.84 Despite these small changes. 56 . Starting from the late 1960s.81 However.

“moo shu pork”. snake soup and squid with ginger and green onion. they made the practice of eating 85 Chao. Chi- nese people had been barred from entering America for more than half a century. Chinese take-away restaurants that scattered across America also occupied a large part of Chinese American foodscapes. who brought a wide range of Chinese regional cuisines. many of these new Chinese restaurants boasted extensive menus full of curiosity-provoking dish names like “General Tsao’s chicken”. Restaurants serving different Chinese regional cuisines sprung up in large quantities. The types of Chinese restaurants were also further diversified. Among them. high-end eating the city increased 234% from 121 to 284. “Communicating through Architecture.86 In contrast to the earlier restaurants that gave priority to Western preferences. Some dishes even sounded challenging and intimidating to the ears of Amer- icans like pig intestine with daily special. to the medium-sized Hunan restaurant with white table cloth and moderate decoration. 57 . and to the humble hole-in-the-wall Taiwanese eatery probably run by a couple from Taiwan. with the latter far exceeding the former in number. “dragon and phoenix”. Chinese restaurants tended to split into two camps. Chinese food in America stopped evolving and was reduced to cheap and tame food.85 The passage of the 1965 Immigration Act resulted in the arrival of a large number of new Chinese immigrants. one serving the Chinese community and the other targeting non-Chinese. Under white cultural domination. Although they played a less important role in celebrating Chinese cuisine and spreading Chinese culinary culture. The culinary sophistication brought by the new immigrants subverted the dominance of chop suey in Chinese American foodscapes.” 148. “kung pao chicken”. fancy. No longer devoting themselves to serving simple Cantonese American fare. the new establishments reaffirmed the significance of the Chinese community and offered food agreeable to the Chinese pal- ate. there were a number of large. so there was little inflow of new culinary ideas from China before the arrival of the post-1965 immigrants. ranging from the upscale Hong Kong seafood restaurant. equipped with hundreds of seats and extraordinarily exquisite chandeliers. 86 Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library.

1985. January 16. 2001.” Chinese Times. but instead to the regional cuisines of Beijing. The famous food writer James Beard wrote in 1973. Carton 18 Folder 12 Restaurants 1972– 1990. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. 216.A. Ethnic Studies Library of US Berkeley and David Holley. New Chinese cuisine received enthusiastic reactions from Americans. 1973. 1985. 90 Harvey Levenstein.” Los Angeles Times.90 According to the National Res- taurant Association. Yuk Ow Collection. Oct 11. sophisticated white customers were no longer drawn to the cuisine of local Chinese Americans. together with old types of Cantonese American food.” Los Angeles Times. Him Mark Lai Collection.”89 In coastal cities. Chinese food edged out Mexican in 1982 and became America’s second most popular ethnic food. closed in 1978. Shanghai. 58 . 1978. The closing of such restaurants marked the end of an era and ushered in a new one. April 19. Box 93. Carton 8. buying Chinese food to take out. finally reaching small towns in the Midwest and the South. “Yee Jun Folds. which opened in 1885. 89 James Beard. after Italian. 1978.” New York Times. Sichuan and Hunan that were introduced by new immigrants. A number of old-time restaurants were shut during this time period. The opening of new restaurants pushed older ones to the wayside. 88 See Ken Wong.88 These restaurants. 91 “Assembly-Line Chinese Food. January 22. the End of an Era. “Cooking Up a Chinese Revolution.Chinese take-out a part of everyday American life. 1850 –1994. May 17. Everywhere you find people taking classes in Chinese cuisine. which opened in 1878. flocking to the newest Chines restaurants.. Nancy Wey Research Files.A.91 A study by the association showed that customer traffic at Chinese restaurants increased 87 “Chinese Takeout Cheap and Tasty. shut its door in 1985. “Historic L. San Francisco Chinatown’s then oldest restaurant Yee Jun. and then spread to other big cities.” China Express. “Right now there’s a small cultural revolution in cooking going on.87 New Chinese food trends first caught on in metropolitan and coastal cities like New York and L. faded into historical oblivion. Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press. “The Greater New York Area Has More Than 400 Take-away Restaurants.” East/West. Chinatown Restaurant to Close. The introduction of the large variety of Chinese regional cuisines reinvigorated Chinese American foodscapes. General Lee’s (formerly known as Man Jen Low) in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. September 14. 1993).

. 59 . July 5. “Perceptions of Chinese Restaurants in the U. and Henry Chung’s Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook (1978). a considerable number of cookbooks were devoted to single types of regional cuisine. just to name a few. quoted in R.92 According to a survey in 2001. “Dining Chinese: a Consumer Subgroup Comparison. but also celebrated Chinese culinary culture and expressed their cultural pride. 67–86. The emergence of Chinese fast food restaurants with standardized food products exhibited the strong homogenizing forces of American society. Although American eat- ing was a cultural hybrid combining many ethnic foodways and culinary practices since the very beginning. In order to better understand the transformation of Chinese food. George. http:// articles. “Fast-food Industry. which to a large extent changed the American foodscape.S. it was Americanized over the years and gradually became homogenous and unexciting.93 The popularity of Chinese regional cuisines in Chinese restaurants precipitated the publication of a huge number of cookbooks. and from 1982 to 1984 it increased by 23 percent. Different from Chinese restaurants that claimed to specialize in one kind of regional cuisine but usually incorporated other regional cui- sines into their menus to attract more consumers. The diversification and authentication of Chinese food went hand-in- hand with the Americanization and assimilation of it. it was estimated that 90% of the American population had tried Chinese food and 63% of Americans ate Chinese food every month.” Journal of Restaurant & Foodservice Marketing. like Jennie Low’s Szechwan Cookbook (1976) and Peking Cooking (1971). the scientific food movement which drew more attention to calories 92 Deanne Brandon. cultural and culinary context and look at how American eating changed in this period. In these cookbooks. 4(2).orlandosentinel. There was a gastronomic revolution in America during the second half of the twentieth century. 1985. T.” 338. 93 Liu and Jang. Due to the industrializa- tion of the food industry that gave birth to mass-produced and processed–07–05/business/0310220035_1_ethnic-food- national-restaurant-association-chinese-food. one needs to situate it in a wider social. Chinese immigrants or Chinese Americans wrote most of these cookbooks. the authors not only provided Americans with Chinese recipes to cook at home.” Orlando Sentinel.16 percent from 1978 to 1982.

lobster and roast beef. 2000). “with the discovery of vitamins and other chemical compounds.and nutrients rather than the flavor of food. Paradox of Plenty.”95 Be- sides that.. but all served similar dishes. 90. 125–26. 98 Laresh Jayasanker.97 American restaurant cooking was dominated by homogenized “meat and potato fare” in the 1940s and 1950s. restaurants not only conformed to the standard fare of meat. a mecca for culinary adventurers. The majority of establishments recommended in restaurant guides specialized in American cooking with an emphasis on steak. the situation began to change and a culinary trans- formation was imminent. They incited the interest of Americans in food and led them to an unexplored world of ethnic cuisines. 2012). American Appetite: The Coming of Age of a National Cuisine (New York: HarperCollins. see Levenstein. macaroni.98 From the 1960s. Julia Child and Craig Claiborne emerged in the public eye and introduced more sophisticated dishes as well as culinary cultures to ordinary Americans. Americans were resistant to new immigrant cuisines in general that besides spaghetti. 182–97. 97 Levenstein. Even in San Francisco. French cuisine. white domination also manifested in the field of gas- tronomy. 96 Cindy Ott. Several influential cooks and food writers such as James Beard. Although some of the cuisines might have already been familiar to Americans. and a few other well-entrenched adoptive American dishes. Cindy Ott writes in Pumpkin: the Curious History of an American Icon. Wash- ington: University of Washington Press. “By the time the 1960s rolled around. 95 Leslie Brenner. potato and seafood. as well as the decline of the foreign-born population which slowed down the inflow of new ethnic foods. 118. there were still much to discover or 94 On how food processing industry blunted the American palate with frozen and canned food. University of Texas at Austin. Paradox of Plenty. 60 . and cooking more in terms of digestibility than in terms of taste and texture. home economists advocated that cooking as a precise scientific procedure rather than an impromptu art. consumers started to judge a food’s value more in terms of its component parts.94 As in many other aspects of American culture. 2008). 1965–2005” (PhD diss. 101–18.”96 Even restaurant cooking was character- ized by culinary monotony. Pumpkin: the Curious History of an American Icon (Seattle. American eating remained bland until the 1950s. “Sameness in Diversity: Food Culture and Globalization in San Francisco Bay Area and America.

Japanese and Thai food then successively became the most fashionable cui- sines in the U. giving de- tailed introductions to the restaurants in the Bay Area and L. and Chinese regional food firstly became a hit in the two coasts.101 undoubtedly. Gourmet’s pages were full of references to exotic foreign food. Culinary Arts Collection. 61 .. Decem- ber 3. In 99 Brenner. features ran on Indonesian Rijsttafel and Turkish cooking…”99 On the west coast. 102 Donna R. published in 1977. In New York City. According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association in 1984. 1984. “This is a guide to San Francisco cuisine – which is another way of saying an excursion into some of the most interesting food in the world. 1998). 101. boasted great culinary diversity. American Appetite. Jack Shelton’s Private Guide to Restaurants.A. a monthly newsletter. Cosmopolitan cities like San Francisco and L. We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1977). Polynesian. chronicled the prosperity of ethnic dining in America through several decades starting in 1967. the author said in the introduc- tion. 100 Arthur Bloomfield. “Argentine.103 Eating ethnic food was so popular that Americans were not satisfied with only one kind of ethnic flavor in one dish. customers said that they wanted to see more ethnic dishes on restaurant menus and that they would order more ethnic food if it was offered. Arthur Bloomfield’s Guide to San Francisco Restaurants (Sausalito. Chinese. Gabaccia.A. Indian. 103 “Consumers Clamor for Ethnic Food.” Nation’s Restaurant News. In a book titled Arthur Bloomfield’s Guide to San Francisco Restaurants. and Indian restaurants were reviewed. They would also enjoy sampling food they have never eaten before. vii.S. New ethnic food trends started in the big cities on the two coasts and later reached the heartland. Danish. Los Angeles Public Library. Mexican. ethnic restaurants constituted 10 percent of all the restaurants in the country. & enlarged ed. there was a nationwide craze for ethnic food in the 1970s and 1980s. rev. numerous restaurant guides continued to be published.rediscover in them. but expected to see different ethnic flavors on a single plate.102 Americans welcomed this culinary diversity and embraced new ethnic foods with enthusiasm. new food from Mexico received the warmest welcome in Califor- nia and Texas. Italian. Starting with French cuisine. In the 1980s. In 1969. Among these guides. 218. California: Comstock Editions. since the 1970s. 101 For instance.”100 Although the reception of some ethnic cuisines had a regional limitation.

105 Fresh ingredients prepared with simple cooking methods began to be evaluated more highly than haute cuisine among a certain number of middle-class restaurant chefs and home cooks. “Fusion cuisine” soon became popular in big cities like Los Angeles and New York. fast food has held a very important position in American eating. not the mass- produced. 1978.106 Even ethnic foods couldn’t avoid the fate of mass-production and they were also shaped into Americanized convenience food in fast food restaurants. See Levenstein. The concern of Americans about safety issues in modern food production helped to precipitate the health food movement. Besides that. young American consumers were in search of natural and gourmet food.A. the 1950s and 1960s also witnessed the rise of the American fast food industry. Without the new wave of 104 Influenced by Rachel Carson and her famous book Silent Spring which caused public alarm against the danger of pesticide. Many agents contributed to the culinary revolution. Although the new food waves were characterized by great culinary di- versity. The emergence of “California cuisine” with Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse as the pioneer echoed the zeitgeist. In this way. 105 Levenstein. Since then. Tired of the additive-laden and flavorless processed food churned out by giant food corporations. Sept. fungicides and chemical fertiliz- ers. 106 Levenstein. there were more than 122. about 40 percent of all public eating place revenue. the culinary world of America was greatly democratized and liberated from white domination. 195–202. three times as many as two decades earlier. vegetarian eating has resurged as a fad since the late 1960s. 160–61. their sales amounted to thirty-four-billion-dollar. Americans began to pay more attention to the safety and healthiness of food.” RB. flavorful food was desired. Fresh. 62 . By 1983. Paradox of Plenty. 1. “11th Annual Res- taurant Growth Index. Paradox of Plenty.104 Natural food was preferred and organic food was no longer merely consumed by the health food circles but has edged into the mainstream since the 1970s. 165. sophistication and novelty. That same year. quoted in Malcolm Knapp. the massive inflow of new immigrants made a significant contribution to the diversification of American ethnic foodscapes. tasteless stuff that passed as food. First of all. Franco-Asian cuisine once became a hit in L.500 fast food outlets in America.response to this demand. Paradox of Plenty. “fusion cuisine” developed.

With more women joining the work force. two-and-a-half-child family pattern with the mother doing the cooking at home became rare. American Appetite. which were previously hard to find. postwar economic prosperity and the availability of commercial transcontinental air flights made long-distance travel much easier. most often to Europe. people developed a fondness for them. People who worked outside the home had little time or inclination to cook at home. people ate out more often than before. 109 Ibid.. Half of the households were composed of single men or women or married couples without children. the American foodscapes wouldn’t have been as diverse as it is today.. the number of families with two bread-winners increased. mass production nevertheless boosted the popularity and facilitated the wider acceptance of ethnic food. Some of the adult baby boomers were leading an unconventional family life. The traditional two-parent. Paradox of Plenty. More Americans could afford to travel overseas. 108 Levenstein.109 Fourthly. 41. As the American middle class expanded. 110 Ibid.110 This increased the frequen- cy with which they dined out at restaurants. cilantro.cosmopolitanism was growing among middle-class Americans as a result of foreign travel. The breakup of the traditional family structure also contributed to change in American eating patterns. After trying foreign cuisines in restaurants. jalapeno pepper and bok choy. Americans became more receptive to foreign food in general. families with a breadwinning husband and a homemaking wife and children only accounted for seven out of every hundred house- holds. 217.107 Their travels not only provided them with opportunities to sample and enjoy foreign cuisine at the source. Both 107 Brenner. 63 . more families could afford to eat out at restaurants. thanks to the new economic boom brought by the war as well as the change of family structure. with the development of transportation technology. a wider range of new food items were available on the mainstream American food market like mangoes. Secondly. although notori- ous for churning out homogenized and standardized food products and posing a threat to American taste. 232–33. 32. According to a report in 1977. Next.108 Thirdly.immigration that brought in a large variety of foreign cuisines. but also expanded their culinary horizons .

” Countercultural 111 Gabaccia. sit-down restaurants were leading the food trends . 114 Warren J. 112 Ibid. The fast food industry. Belasco pointed out that the disgust of mainstream processed food and dissatisfaction with the established food industry gave birth to “countercuisine. The Civil Rights Movement made interracial relations in the U. corporate American culture”.114 When it came to eating.113 Warren J.ethnic entrepreneurs and large American corporations capitalized the ethnic food boom in this period. more ethnic foods were introduced to the national market.111 What needs to be pointed out is. in particular.. 178–79. the American attitudes towards ethnic cul- ture and ethnic food changed. mass-mediated.” Food and Foodways 2 (1987): 3–4. Last but by no means least. Cultural pluralism extended into the culinary world. then were mass prepared and put on the mainstream market. eating ethnic food was deemed a way of express- ing countercultural feelings. There were rebellious. in spite of the important role of mass production. Paradox of Plenty. Thanks to mass production. The ethnic revival that took place in this period not only made people reexamine their own cultural and ethnic heritage. These young radicals denounced giant food corporations as undemocratic and manipulative. 64 . like hippies and leftists. more equal. Dis- satisfied with “mainstream. Belasco elaborated on the connection between dietary change since the late 1960s and anti-establishment sentiments. They took ethnic foods out of ethnic enclaves and brought them to the mainstream market. and believed the food they produced endangered the health of Americans.S. “Ethnic Fast Foods: The Corporate Melting Pot. 170–72.dishes usually gained popularity in restaurants first. the cultural rebels rejected the totalitarian control of corporate America and WASP male hegemony. 161. and increased American tolerance of ethnic diversity. in terms of Chinese food.112 To young cultural rebels. which broadened the market for ethnic food. We are What We Eat. played an important role in promoting the popularity of ethnic foods by incorporating them into their realm. but also aroused an appreciation in cultures of other ethnic groups. especially towards non-European ones. 113 Levenstein. Belasco. anti-authoritarian and decentralist impulses among a number of Americans in this era.

They saw ethnic food as a form of countercuisine.groups believed that mass-produced food aggravated the alienation from nature.115 They expressed their political attitudes through eating ethnic food. The unpretentious and informal dining environment in ethnic restaurants also stood in opposition to American mainstream bourgeois eating. As Belasco argued. “eating un-American dishes could be interpreted as a protest against American cultural imperialism. which are largely based on a vegetable-centered diet. There was an important historical incident that particularly stimulated the interest of Americans in Chinese food – Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 115 See Warren J.117 For people who were bored by the monotony of mainstream eating. 116 Belasco.”118 Some ethnic foodways were admired for healthy eating habits. 62–63. 65 . 118 Belasco. Mass media also played an especially important role in advocating eth- nic food in the 1970s. eating ethnic food provided them with an exciting experience. it is not difficult to under- stand why a new Chinese restaurant boom emerged during this time period. “Ethnic Fast Foods. chemical additives. TV cooking shows like Julia Child’s The French Chef exercised a great influence on the home cooking of Americans. There were also a number of people who turned to ethnic food for health reasons. Chinese foodways. 117 Ibid. “In some minds ethnic foods were health foods. because foreign cuisines often lagged behind America’s in the use of prime beef. and they attempted to seek culinary alternatives to mainstream American eating. Traditional media like newspapers and magazines continued to exert a strong influence on the way Americans ate – the food magazine Gourmet served as an indicator of culinary trends. 1990). were one of them.”116 The time-tested ethnic food symbolized tradition. Appetite for Change: How the Counterculture Took on the Food Industry (New York: Pantheon Books.. which stood in contrast to the “plastic”. mass prepared food. Belasco. and plastic wrap. cultural root and continuity.” 5. 5. society as well as human body. TV’s advertis- ing role became increasingly important in the latter half of the 20th century. Against such a gastronomy-friendly background in which Americans were exceedingly keen on new culinary pleasures. Appetite for Change. rootless. frozen or canned produce.

which was not only reflected by the cuisine. They said they were getting more orders for Maotai. with the conscious efforts of the food purveyors. In the new era. “The Chinese Restaurant Boom. Nixon’s well-reported dining of the multi-course Chinese banquet in the Great Hall of the People aroused American interest in Chinese regional cuisines. some restaurants reported that cus- tomers’ interest in Chinese food surged after the President’s trip in February. 121 Ralph Blumenthal. dishes like Peking duck wouldn’t have been so popular among American diners. as well as their cultural influence on Ameri- can eaters. Much media attention was drawn by the President’s encounter with Chinese food and “the meal began under the glare of the television lights at the big round table next to the stage.”119 Both NBC and ABC were impressed by the fact the President of the United States was actually welding chopsticks. According to San Francisco Chronicle. 122 Daniels. Americans embraced Chinese food even more warmly. on the west coast. Asian America.1972. The socioeconomic success achieved by Chinese Americans in this period put them in the rank of “model minority” together with Japanese Americans. a liquor Nixon tasted during a party in China. September 6. 66 . people’s attitudes toward ethnic cuisine also underwent changes. Yuk Ow Collection. especially Northern style cuisine. This new Chinese American culinary culture differed from the previous era. but also by the way new types of food were introduced.” San Francisco Chronicle. The rise of the social status of Chinese Americans in the latter half of the twentieth century might also have contributed to the wider popularity of Chinese food. Chinese food and Chinese restaurants not only exerted an influence on the change of American eating. 119 Coe. Let us now start from the change of the restaurant proprietors and chefs. which further aroused their curiosity in Chinese culture in general and changed their perceptions of Chineseness. Carton 15.122 Since the perception of the ethnic group changed among the American public. Folder 13. 317. Chop Suey.121 Without the President’s trip. but also provided Americans with access to Chinese culinary culture. 238.120 During and after Nixon’s trip. 120 Ibid. 1972.

Ethnicity and Entrepreneurship: The New Chinese Immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area (Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Hong Kong and Macao. 125 Bernard Wong. that PRC re- ceived its own quota of 20. 126 Zinzius. especially upon its reunification with mainland China. the preferential categories also included vocational preference. 70.123 This explained why people from Taiwan and Hong Kong were overrepre- sented in the foreign-born Chinese population in this period. and the quota kept increasing in the following years.124 The vocational preference in the Act brought a number of middle and upper-class immigrants to America.S. By 1980. The Act abolished the national origins quotas system. got the quota reserved for dependent territories. The number of the foreign-born Chinese population increased rapidly after the 1965 Act came into force. 124 Ibid.000. when Sino-U. artists and skilled and unskilled labor workers were given altogether 20% of the total quota. Chinese America. scientists. 67 . Although the Act gave priority to the category of family reunion.3. Prefer- ence was given to seven social groups within the quota system. Hong Kong. relatively well-educated and many are from urban areas of China: Taiwan. 76. China as a nation state got a maximum of 20. 1998). These immigrants differ significantly from earlier ones who came primarily from rural areas and were relatively uneducated..S.000 visas annually as did all other countries in the Eastern Hemisphere.”125 They were not only equipped with professional skills. It wasn’t until 1979. Since there were no diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC at the time. from Vietnam and other South Asian countries. which was only the same as that of Taiwan. the quota that was given to China fell in practice to Taiwan. Chinese America. 53–54. People with extraordinary abilities like professionals. Ethnic Chinese also entered the U. but also had a better awareness of their ethnic culture. as a British colony. relations were normalized. 14. which changed their socioeconomic profiles.126 123 Zinzius.1 The Coming of the Culinary Diasporas – Change of Restaurant Operators/Chefs The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act caused great demographic change in the Chinese America. The post-1965 immigrants were “as a group. more than 50% of the Chinese in the United States were foreign-born. especially the class dynamics of the Chinese population.1.

These chefs had received serious and systematic training in cooking and some of them even owned restaurants before their emigration. Be- cause of language and cultural barriers and lack of educational or working credentials valued by the U. these new chefs were well- informed and cosmopolitan. Chinese experience in America. the number in the Chinese restaurant business work force nevertheless increased since the 1960s. Before them. there had never been such a large group of food professionals in America specialized in Chinese cooking. Among these people.128 A number of well-educated Chinese from middle and even upper-class backgrounds also joined the ranks and set up their own restaurants. but they are not the focus of this chapter since my emphasis is on the important role of foreign-born chefs and restaurateurs. 128 Tsai. “Crispy sea bass”.. attributed to chef Tsung Ting Wang and Michael 127 Some of them entered the restaurant industry out of practical concerns. Hong Kong and later mainland China. Many of them had worked in another foreign country before. Although the new immigrants as a group were relatively well-educated and highly-skilled. they engaged in the restaurant business which required minimal language ability.or at least medium-sized restaurants. 68 . 149. who entered America under the quota of technical personnel. In stark contrast with the earlier cooks who were familiar with nothing but Cantonese cooking before coming to America.127 Although more other job opportunities became available to Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants since the Second World War. a considerable number of them still entered the restaurant industry out of various reasons.S. “crispy orange beef” and “Lake Tung Ting prawns” were said to originate at Shun Lee restaurant in New York. There were also several American-born well-educated middle-class chefs who became famous by cooking Chinese food such like Ming Tsai and Ken Hom. Some of these mas- ter chefs had worked for former nationalist government officials and flew to Taiwan or Hong Kong after the founding of the PRC. They played an exceedingly important role in professionalizing Chinese cooking and gentrifying Chinese food in America. These master chefs usually chose to work in large. They introduced Chinese cuisine innovatively to Americans and improvised several new dishes that later became popular. there were a number of master chefs from Taiwan. And there were also many people who entered the restaurant industry out of either an interest in celebrating Chinese culinary culture or a desire to set up their own business and make a fortune from it.

It was not an unusual phenomenon that one or two master chefs made a particular restaurant popular. 224.Tong. they came to the U. In my interview with a senior master chef who had worked in Europe. when people learned that chef Wang Yun Ching had moved from Szechuan restaurant to Peking restaurant just down Broadway.132 Believing their cooking skills and culinary knowledge would be appreciated abroad. Different from the immigrants who had to enter the restaurant sector for survival. they wanted to make a better living and fulfil their career ambitions using their expertise in the food business. and made use of their managerial expertise in running restaurants. Chop Suey. Besides chefs. In the case of “culinary diasporas. because he had never heard of it before in China. 25.A.” See Ien Ang. Mark Ting. New York and L. the lines of people followed him to Peking for his lamb with scallions.S..129 The popular dish “Beef with Broccoli” was also said to be invented in the U.A. In New York.130 Chinese cooking in America was lifted to a new level by these professional chefs. the owner of Plum Tree restaurant in L.” it was their culinary expertise and career orientation in the food industry that tied them together in the transnational context. creating imagined communities whose blurred and fluctuating boundaries are sustained by real and/or symbolic ties to some original ’homeland’. 2007). he told me a dish like sizzling rice soup might also have been invented in America. 129 See Michael Tong and Elaine Louie. Because they had intention to work in the culinary field before emigration.”131 The United States was. 131 Ien Ang tried to give a definition of “diasporas” by saying they are “transna- tional. On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West (London: Routledge. these people chose to work in the restaurant industry to make use of their culinary expertise. by no means. The Shun Lee Cookbook: Recipes From a Chinese Restaurant Dynasty (New York: William Morrow. In order to seek a better career life. the only destination for these immi- grants. these people can be called “culinary diasporas. They were scattered across the world. 132 Based on the author’s personal interview. was one such master chef.S. 2001). a group of professional restaurant managers from Hong Kong also joined the influx of immigrants. spatially and temporally sprawling sociocultural formations of people. 69 . He told me some of his former colleagues are now running restaurants in different cities in Europe. 130 Coe.

S. 70 . they were more confident and proud to display their ethnic food in public with fewer modifications. Compared to the previous generation of restaurateurs. few of the earlier restaurant cooks were trained as chefs. The only cooking style they were familiar with was Cantonese country cooking. There were huge differences between the old and new generations of restaurant operators and cooks. the demographic status of Taiwan has been complex since 1949 because a large number of people fled to Taiwan from different provinces of China. The earlier generation 133 It is true that the majority of Chinese quota immigrants came from Taiwan before 1979. Secondly. the new immigrant restaurateurs brought greater economic capital with them to the U. Instead of merely catering to the preferences of American customers. 134 Although these middle-class restaurant proprietors and professional chefs were only a minority and there were still many immigrants who engaged in the restaurant business out of economic necessity. unlike their predecessors who entered the restaurant business simply to make a living. nor did they have much prior cooking experience. Thirdly.134 Finally. the new restaurateurs and chefs had better cultural awareness. They looked down on chop suey as a bastardized version of Chinese food and strove to undo the effect of cultural assimilation on their ethnic cuisine in the setting of restaurants. the group of professional chefs was well acquainted with other cooking styles. new restaurant operators were more career-oriented and ambitious. Firstly. “Class” is an important marker in distinguishing the new “culinary di- asporas” and the food they brought to America from the earlier generation of restaurateurs and the old types of Chinese food. Chinese restaurateurs attempted to teach American people to appreciate Chinese cuisine and tried to “educate” the American palate. However. It took them a shorter time to gather enough money for starting their own businesses.133 Moreover. the new immigrants came from different regions of China and had solid knowledge of the cooking of their respective places of origin. this small number of “cu- linary diasporas” have had a disproportionately cultural impact on Chinese American foodscapes. They wanted to build their careers and fulfill their American dreams in the food business. They introduced a global Chinese culinary cul- ture to America. compared to the earlier restaurant owners who usually started from scratch. Unlike them.

while quite a number of the new restaurant operators were of middle or even upper-class background. ed. Hosler. 136 Light and Rosenstein. Ivan Light and some other sociologists highlight the distinction between ethnic and class resources possessed by ethnic and immigrant entrepreneurs. 178–204. ethnic resources refer to the features of the whole ethnic group including ethnic ideologies.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 7.135 According to Light. 1998). 2 (April 1984): 195–216. no. class resources are the cultural and material endowments unique to the bourgeoisies which include material resources. bourgeois cultural values. 2 (Summer 1991): 303–32. On My Own: Korean Busi- nesses And Race Relations in America (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.restaurateurs were mostly from the lower-class.. Ivan Light and Edna Bonacich. 1995). social networks. while. educational background and working experience in promoting entrepreneurship. In-Jin Yoon. these middle and upper-class Chinese restaurateurs’ tastes and knowledge in the culinary field. occupationally relevant and supportive values. Race and Ethnicity. Akiko S. 22–25. Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneurs in New York City: A New Wave of Ethnic Business (New York: Garland Pub- lishing. 22–26. 1988). and Entrepreneurship. In my case.” in Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Koreans in Los Angeles 1965–1982. no. “The Changing Significance of Ethnic and Class Resources in Immigrant Business: The Case of Korean Immigrant Businesses in Chicago. 135 See Ivan Light and Carolyn Rosenstein. solidarity.136 Although these sociolo- gists discussed the roles of material resources. “Class and Ethnic Resources. such as bourgeois values. etc. they didn’t explore the importance of other aspects of class resources. The bourgeois im- migrants have both ethnic and class resources. culinary expertise. attitudes. Ivan Light and Edna Bonacich (Berkeley: University of California Press. Unlike earlier Cantonese immigrants. They possessed different types of “capital”. Ivan Light. knowledge and cultural awareness. Race and Ethnicity..” International Migration Review 25. these “culinary diasporas” arrived with the financial. “Immigrant and Ethnic Enterprise in North America. Although all the cultural ele- ments of an ethnic group are considered ethnic resources. Inc. 25–31. ethnic institutions. and Entrepre- neurship in Urban America (New York: Aldine De Gruyter. 71 . previous business experience. 1997). knowledge. which explained their different performances in the restaurant business and the different degree of cultural influence they exercised on American eaters. 44–45. In-Jin Yoon. financial capital and education all constituted their class resources. and skills.

He also partici- pated in the Master Cooking Series held at the Trade Center in San Francisco 137 Zhao Rongguang 赵荣光. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. They are in a better position to mobilize these cultural resources than the working-class. Thus. the immigrants from higher social classes were more capable of transplanting their culture from their native place to foreign countries and keeping them intact. who was once invited to a White House reception and introduced as the best Chinese chef in America. and even hosted culinary tours to China to arouse the interest of Americans in Chinese cooking and culinary culture. There was a social stratification in Chinese culinary culture since ancient times. 72 .] (Beijing: Higher Education Press. Some Chinese chefs attended TV cooking shows. For example. Him Mark Lai Research Files. the “culinary diasporas” were eager to display Chinese cuisine in public and ardently promote Chinese culinary art among Americans.139 Some chefs offered cooking classes and seminars to the public and disseminated the art of Chinese cooking. Box 12. “Zhongguo linshi wenhua gailun”中国饮食文化 概论(第二版)[A Introduction to Chinese Dining Culture. Box 12. opened up his own cooking studio in 1974. The higher the social class. They celebrated Chinese cooking through various media and generated much publicity.138 Martin Yan.137 Having more access to “high culture” and boasting refined tastes and good manners due to their family backgrounds. a well-educated and charismatic chef. the owner of Chef Chu’s Restaurant. the more cultural traits their eating pos- and cultural resources that the higher classes possessed exclusively. In contrast to the ear- lier immigrants who were easily subject to white cultural domination and presented a faux-Chinese décor and “tame” Chinese American food. Joyce Chen. 57. Carton 29. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. 2003). Chef Lawrence Chu. spent 20 years hosting the popular TV cooking show “Yan Can Cook” to demolish the mystiques attached to Chinese cuisine. the middle and upper-class usually have more cultural capital at their disposal. 1994–1995. 2rd. 138 Chen. Biographies. and the responsibility of cultural reproduction usually fell on the shoulders of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy among whom there were many gourmets and theorists of culinary culture. Carton 14. Joyce. ed. was the first Asian woman to host a TV cooking show. 139 Him Mark Lai Research Files. who opened New England’s first Mandarin Chinese restaurant in Cambridge.

39–60. simple. introduced Hunan cuisine . 141 Xiaoli Liu. Michael Tong.141 Many of the famous chefs also published cookbooks to pass on Chinese recipes to their co-ethnics and Americans at large. introduced Szechuan. December 18. which was often seen as a cheap. “‘Unnatural.the food of his hometown . The chefs and restaurateurs with middle and upper class backgrounds played an active role in preserving. it had no respect.” Asian Week. and tried to convince Americans that Chinese food can be refined. Gender. Beverly Hills and Manhattan. Asian Interest VF. delicate and rich in cultural contents. 73 . the owner/ chef of Hunan Restaurant in San Francisco. San Francisco Public Library Chinatown Branch. Before the emergence of these chefs. and Filthy’: Chinese American Cooking Literature Confronting Racism in the 1950s” in Secret Ingredients: Race.Chinese food folder 2. They strove to give Americans a better un- derstanding of Chinese food and increase their appreciation of Chinese culi- nary his American readers. Henry Chung. spreading and innovating their ethnic food cultures in foreign places. not only taught Chinese cooking but also introduced Chinese culture to her students. “I felt Chinese food was always badly presented.140 Madame Wu. the owner and executive chef of the popular Shun Lee West and Shun Lee Palace in New York. “Ambassador of Chinese Cooking – Madame Wu. Carton 28. 1987.” What he wanted to present to the American public was “a 20th-century environment 140 Gerrye Wong. the owner/chef of Madame Wu’s Garden. “Business Services. 2006).” Him Mark Lai. see Sherrie A. 142 On Chinese women’s contribution to Chinese-American cooking literature in the 1950s.142 The participation of professional male chefs in cookbook writing marked that this field was no longer women’s domain. a restaurateur who owned three restau- rants in London. They attempted to undermine American stereotypes of Chinese food. Chinese cooking literature in America was mainly written by amateur Chinese women cooks who were zealous to show their cooking skills.and taught at different cooking schools. Box 12. always compromised to Western tastes… the food was always cheap. like pizza. said in an interview. Unclean. and Class at the Dinner Table (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. low-class cuisine. Hunan and Shanghai regional cuisines in The Shun Lee Cookbook. Inness. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. Michael Chow.

It reveals that the earlier immigrant cooks from the lower-class were less capable of standing out and displaying their skills and talents in public but more likely to act collectively. but also the disseminators of Chinese culture who were cosmopolitan. the new “culinary diasporas” had both ethnic and class resources at their disposal. they wanted to change the old image of Chinese immigrants in American society. which was often as- sociated with lower-class labor workers who lacked culture. “Chow Making Chinese Food Chic.144 While most of the earlier restaurateurs only had ethnic resources to rely on. which were not available to their predecessors from lower-class. managerial expertise and knowledge of Chinese food. they outperformed the old-timers not only socioeconomically but also culturally. June 24. the inventors generally remained anonymous. Thanks to the favorable political. and were capable of expressing themselves culturally. they pursued personal achievements in a more confident and aggressive way. Culinary Art Collection. and exerted a much stronger cultural influence on American diners. sophisticated and confident. Chinese immigrants gained more cultural agency in American society. social and cultural environment in the 1970s and 80s.” 74 . The new res- taurant operators and chefs showed Americans that Chinese people working in the restaurant industry were not just purveyors of Chinese food whose only job was to serve American customers. They mobilized their cultural resources. 1985. true Chinese food. In contrast.”143 Restaurateurs like Chow culturally redefined their ethnic group and made their voices heard through food. such as chop suey. Through the cultural aspect of food. They made food an important aspect of the expressive culture of the Chinese community. Making use of the material and cultural resources endowed by their higher sociocultural status. Although Chinese cooks in the earlier period also devel- oped a few dishes that became popular in America. and endeavored to demonstrate that they were a people with a rich cultural heritage. Earlier cooks didn’t get credit as individuals. Los Angeles Public Library. 143 Marilyn Alva. Entrepreneurs with more resources usually outperform those with less.” Nation’s Restaurant News 19. quite a few of the new immigrant chefs were well-known publicly and aroused attentions as individuals. 144 See Light. Capital- izing on resources like cooking skills. Different from them. and few chefs’ names were known to the public.with non-compromising. well-informed. “Immigrant and Ethnic Enterprise in North America.

skilled food professionals had a strong inclination to exert individual influence and left their personal imprints on the development of Chinese American food. Some of the restauranteurs acquired upward social mobility using not only culinary but also managerial expertise. educational background. Some even became ce- lebrities through showing their culinary skills on TV programs. culinary knowledge or managerial expertise that they exclusively possessed. knowledge and taste of food also provided them with resources to utilize. James Beard and Jeremiah Towers. Beginning from the late 1970s. Some of the Chinese chefs gained reputations for their culinary talents and cooking skills through at- tending international cooking contests. As for the middle and upper-class restaurateurs with- out previous experience in the catering profession. became the CEO of Panda Express. Besides individual immigrants. Him Mark Lai. One example is Hwang Jan June. Box 54. who won golden medals several times. 75 . Among them. an increasing number of Chinese food companies were setting up chain restaurants in the United States. award-winning tel- evision show “Yan Can Cook”. bourgeois cultural values.145 Some chefs’ names became what attracted customers to their restaurants.” China Press. corporations from China also entered the American food market. Carton 15.the well-trained. With his nationwide-broadcasted. 2002. Some upscale Chinese 145 “The King of Cooking Hwang Jan June. a chef holding a master degree in math who started his business with a tiny family restaurant in a converted trailer. Equipped with more material and cultural capital. who had a master degree in food science. became famous across the country and gained a large number of fans. These professional chefs and restaurant managers were equipped either with cooking skills. their financial capital. July 2. such as Henry Chung with his Hunan Restaurant in San Francisco. the largest Chinese fast food chain in America. many were based in Hong Kong. Chef Martin Yan. Andrew Cherng. a chef from Taiwan. The well-trained new chefs and culturally sophisticated restaurateurs had a better chance of “mak- ing it” and achieving their American dreams. these middle and upper- class restaurant operators and chefs acquired upward social mobility much easier and quicker than their lower-class predecessors. which made them join the rank of famous American chefs like Julia Child.

people.restaurants like Harbor Village and Meriwa were established by transna- tional corporations. in 1987. Ethnicity and Entrepreneurship. individual restaurant chefs and ethnic organizations also contributed to transnational culinary and San Francisco. set up its first chain in the U. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. Szechuan Palace in New York was a joint venture. lovers of Chinese food and young people. “Hong Kong Meriwa bought Kuo Wah.” Overseas Chinese. 147 “Hong Kong Fast Food Corporation Entered California. Box 93. “Americans Begin to Drink Bubble Tea. Him Mark http://www.” Sing Tao Daily.148 With the establishment of these multinational res- taurant chains from China. L. more top-class chefs were imported from China whose cooking retained the true taste of their native lands.146 Hong Kong’s largest Chinese fast food restaurant group.. became popular across Asian countries in the 1990s. What was in fashion in China soon became a trend in the United States among American food- ies. Café de Coral. All the chefs of Szechuan Palace came from Sichuan. “bubble tea”. 90.A. 148 “People in charge of Szechuan Palace Talked About its Operation. Him Mark Lai. bubble tea soon became a fashionable drink among young Americans. These food corporations played a significant role in leading the newest Chinese food trends.S. For instance. Owned by merchants in Hong Kong. a Taiwan invention. It demonstrated the economic expansion and growth of China.” Overseas Report.S. This also exerted an important influence on Chinese American culinary culture. co-established by Sichuan Catering Service Company and local Chinese immigrants.html. November 30. January 6.S. Individual chefs were often 146 Wong.” Young China. 149 Aizhen Liu. 23 (2001). carton 2. carton 3.147 Large food companies from mainland China also joined the game.149 Besides multinationals. 1978. 76 . Box 93. Chinese food trends in America often mirrored those back in China. which manifested China’s adoption of global business strategies and its participation in the global economy. both restaurants have branches in Hong Kong. They brought the true flavors of Sichuan to America. This phenomenon first of all had economic implications. 1981. Food fads had manifested a transnational tendency in recent years. With teashop chains and franchises being opened in big cities in the U. Chinese busi- nesses began to tap into the American market and capital was brought from China to the U.

learning newly-invented dishes. life styles and cultural products further permeated the non-Western world. in a food exhibition co-organized by Beijing Catering Service Company and Chinese American Cultural Exchange As- sociation. from the spread of the English language. These are all the manifestations of the Westernization of the world. W. brands like Heinz. 153 George Ritzer. 77 . ed. in particular. Scope and Limits of the Drive towards Global Uniformity (Cambridge: Polity. familiarizing themselves with the latest food trends in China and bringing them to America. 1995.152 The United States. 151 See Serge Latouche. Carton 6. and China. Him Mark Lai. Ethnic cultural and business organizations were also zealous in promoting culinary and cultural exchanges between Chinese chefs working in America and their peers back in China by organizing cul- tural activities. wearing jeans and T-shirts and using i-phones. California: Pine Forge Press. fashion.young people all over the world are now watch- ing American sitcoms. Western values.151 With the process of globalization accelerated. rev.153 With Western corporate food invading the global market. 1997). exports its national values and life style through cultural products . For instance. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. The Westernization of the World: Significance. architecture and music to the adoption of an urban lifestyle based on industrial production as well as the acceptance of cultural values like personal liberty and human rights. 89. 1996). Globalization and Culture (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Thousand Oaks. The Global Media (London: Cassell.going back and forth between the U. consumer culture of capitalism. The McDonaldization of Society. S.” International. and 150 “Chinese Chef Delegation come to America to prepare Manchu and Han Imperial Feast.150 Thanks to the frequent transpacific culinary exchanges. Nestlé. several top-class chefs were invited from Beijing to the Grand Taipai Restaurant in Fremont to display their culinary skills. eating habits. McChesney. February 12.S. Her- man E. a transnational network was built in terms of Chinese culinary culture. 1999). 2004). There have always been concerns that globalization would lead to the global dominance of Western culture and the emergence of a single hegem- onic “homogenized” global culture. 152 John Tomlinson. and R. The global food- scapes and food culture also went through McDonaldization. ideas. Box 93.

It suggests. culinary skills. more middle and upper-class Chinese immigrants entered the restaurant industry. Chinese American foodscapes manifested a new transnational trend. Bringing authenticity and diversity to the American food market. cultural strategies of introducing new food also changed.Kraft are not unfamiliar to customers in non-Western countries. they gained upward social mobility faster and easier than their lower-class compatriots who only had ethnic sources to draw upon in the foreign land. Since the demographic structure of restaurant operators and chefs changed in this period. especially after the passage of the 1965 Im- migrant Act. stood in opposition to the homogenization and Westernization of the global food production and consumption. Having better knowledge of Chinese food and stronger cultural awareness. in the age of globalization. the culinary diversity and authenticity generated by the transnational business network posed a challenge to the dominance of Western corporate food in the global foodscapes.S. there were a considerable number of food professionals who committed themselves to introducing Chinese cuisine to the U. Among them. managerial experience endowed by their social classes. which indicated that cul- ture transmits in many directions in the age of globalization instead of just West-to-East model. However. Thanks to the establishment of Chinese multination- als and frequent culinary exchanges between China and the United States. cultural values. it can be seen as a transnational trend of counter-McDonaldization. the transnational food network estab- lished between China and U. Utilizing their class resources like knowledge. 78 . culture doesn’t transfer in a unidirec- tional way but moves through transnational networks in many directions. these well-educated and highly-skilled individuals had great en- thusiasm in celebrating Chinese cooking and spreading Chinese culinary cul- ture. It poses a challenge (no matter how tiny it is) to the cultural hegemony of Western corporate food. In the case of Chinese food.S. It was these middle and upper-class Chinese restaurateurs and chefs who introduced a “high” Chinese cuisine to America and shaped the American taste for Chi- nese food after 1965. This exer- cises a homogenizing impact on the global foodscapes and brings sameness to the global food market. Since the Second World War.

. I would like to start from menus and conduct a semiotic study on them to explore their symbolic meanings. ed. In the earlier Cantonese restaurants. American dishes were disap- pearing from menus after the 1960s. serving. While menus in China normally group dishes by the style or feature of cooking.. especially for meat dishes. The only written form of cultural presentation that customers encounter in restaurants is the menu. culinary practices and cultures to customers from an insider’s perspective. The new restaurateurs didn’t just copy menus from the older Chinese res- taurants but were very innovative in introducing new dishes. 2013). the bill of fare was usually divided into two sections – the Chinese and the 154 Pierre Bourdieu. the strategies of introducing new food to the U. “poultry. Dishes were listed by the categories of “pork”.S.” in Food and Culture: A Reader. those in the new Chinese restaurants also made a few adaptations. there was a list of dishes on the menus designed specifically for the health-conscious as the American concern for healthy eating increased in recent years. also underwent a series of changes. “beef”. First of all.” etc. Like the menus in the chop suey age.1. As a means of building communication between restaurateurs and customers. presenting and offering food are quite different between the working-class and the bour- geoisie. 79 . 36–9. Sometimes. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik (New York: Routledge.154 This theory can be applied to analyze the social distinction and stratification of Chinese cooking and eating.3. 3rd. Menus before and after 1965 were quite different. With the arrival of new immigrant restaurateurs and chefs of higher social classes.2 How New Cuisines Were Introduced – Menus and Other Translation Strategies Pierre Bourdieu asserted that the ways of treating. con- forming to the classification system and culinary conventions of American Continental restaurants. “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. menus introduce a rich variety of food. This is especially true in ethnic restaurants. interpret and translate dishes to customers. even in a transnational context. those in American Chinese restaurants usually classified entrees by the main ingredient. which is the principal medium used by restau- rant operators to describe.

“General Tsao’s chicken”. American dishes were gradually removed. such as gai lan yuk (green vegetables cooked with meat).. etc. Importance was not attached to the “main dishes” in the Chinese culinary system such as various kinds of stir-fried dishes. The new menus bore more resemblance to the menus in China. In earlier menus. celery and 80 . on the new menus focus was given to these main dishes. However. which had cultural and geographical connotations. These “main dishes” were often downplayed and listed as “miscellaneous” in American Cantonese restaurants. However. the focus of menus shifted. These dishes usually occupied more than two-thirds the length of the menu. few Chinese dishes had proper names. On the one hand. more information was provided to describe each dish.American menu with equal importance given to both. On the menus of the earlier restaurants. It suggested Americans were ready to appreciate more sophisticated Chinese dishes. and there was usually a long list of chop suey dishes. “moo shu pork”. some were transliterated from their Cantonese names with the ingredients pointed out in English. However. such as “almond duck” or “chicken with bitter melon”. Before the 1960s. On the other hand. the naming of the dishes was different. which showed the new immigrants’ attempts to observe the culinary traditions and practices of their ethnic group instead of confirming to American conventions. like chop suey and chow mein. quite a few dishes were given proper names with meanings. Secondly. such as “pot sticker”. and their ap- petite for Chinese food became more advanced. Thirdly. occupied a central position and appeared at the very front of the menu. Some were named after their places of origin such as “Westlake duck”. “Tung Ting Lake jumbo shrimp”. Chop suey and chow mein were moved to the end of the menus if they still existed at all. The most common description was like “green pepper cooked with beef” or “dice chicken. it reflected the restaurateurs’ efforts to change the old food paradigm. this implied the further under- standing of Chinese cuisine among American diners. the popular items. or “Chung King lamb”. Some were just named after their principal ingredients. In the new menus. The small variations between different kinds of chop suey and chow mein were highlighted. the description of a certain dish was very brief and only the main ingredi- ents were mentioned. Fourthly. with the great enrichment and wider acceptance of Chinese cuisine. bamboo shoots. mushrooms. “siz- zling rice soup”. these were considered side dishes in the Chinese culinary system and were usually put at the end of the menus in China. etc.

garnished with granted almonds. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. 81 . Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. 158 Menu of Grandview Palace. 159 Menu of Hong Kong restaurant.onions. but also revealed the growing sophistication and tolerance of the American palate as well as the American new preferences for zesty flavors. bamboo shoots. Grand View Hotel menu.”156 The flavor of the dish was mentioned in particular. celery & peanuts on rich hoisin spicy sauce”160. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. 161 Menu of Dragon Regency restaurant.. The descriptions often went like “spicy beef or chicken sautéed with orange peel in sweet & pungent sauce”158. Besides ingredients. Online Archive California. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. Eating snake is supposed to be very helpful for persons suffering from rheumatism” and “the Chinese believe that the eating of turtle improves circulation. [1900s]–1952. The menu at Dragon Regency in L. the idea that 155 Chinese Tea Garden. Sometimes even the whole cooking process was elaborated.”155 New menus tended to give more detailed explanations of dishes. “boneless fresh fried fish in a light batter served in our special garlic sauce”159 and “tender beef. a menu said. 157 Menu of Golden China. It not only sug- gested that the flavors of Chinese food had become diversified and exciting in the U. Menu entries offered abundant cultural knowledge of Chinese food to cus- tomers. mentioned Chinese culinary beliefs and practices as part of the background information for dishes. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library.S. “white chicken meat dipped in egg batter and deep fried. 160 Menu of Bamboo Garden. water chestnuts. A menu described “hot braised Szechwan lobster” as “cracked lobster without shell sautéed with ginger and chili peppers in a spicy red chili sauce. then mixed with pineapple.A.”157 Most of the Chinese restaurants in this period specified the sauces used in the dishes. the menu said “snake soup is one of the most famous Cantonese specialties. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library..”161 In this way. sautéed in a sweet and sour sauce. with certain restaurants in Hong Kong and Canton serving just snake. the flavor of the dish. In introducing exotic snake and turtle dishes. manner of cooking and the way the dish was served were also delineated. In explaining the dish “pineapple chicken”. Chinese-American business miscellany. 156 Menu of Rice Chinese Restaurant.

the twelve corresponding animal signs were drawn on the menu. introduced Chinese dining customs and culinary principles: A Chinese dinner is a communal matter – every dish that comes to the table is shared by all.163 Besides the has a therapeutic and medical effect in Chinese culture came into the sight of American diners. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. they bravely celebrated their ethnic and regional culture. which began with a famous Chinese saying. therefore. and associated the food with the region’s people. There was even a one-page-long introduction to the menu of Golden Dragon Café in L. Him Mark Lai Collection. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. “People in these two central provinces (Hunan and Szechuan) are generous. 162 Menu of Golden Dragon Cafe. your own choice contributed to the variety of the dinner.A. 163 Hoover Institution Archives. It said. in the southeast highly spiced… and salty things are popular in the north. The Chinese zodiac was introduced to the diners in Hong Kong in L.A. When you order. friendly. University of Stanford. Box 324: Chinatown: Food & Restaurants. 165 Restaurants-Menus. The restaurant operators and chefs who wrote these menus saw their customers not only as consumers. Variety. 82 . is not the spice of life. it is also the “secret ingredients” that sets Chinese food apart from all other foods.”162 The menu of Ming’s.”165 Chinese restaurateurs used menus as a means to introduce their ethnic cultures. . warm and leading. and provides the taste contrasts and differences that make for a delightful experience in dining. but also as re- cipients of cultural knowledge. Unlike earlier immigrants who were shy about their cultural selves. you must keep three things in mind: must be pleasing to eye. the provinces of the south-west show a masked liking for sweet dishes with little salt.164 The menu of Hunan Wok even discussed the characteristics of peo- ple from Hunan. “when you prepare a dish. Pardee Lowe. Carton 93. a famous Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto.. Folder 13. Generally speaking. the aroma must be appealing and it must be appetizing. 164 Menu of Hong Kong. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. each one having its own specialty.” It went further to explain the distinctions between different regional cuisines: “All Chinese provinces have great merit in the field of cooking. many other aspects of Chinese culture were also dis- cussed in menus.

Although the changes in menus were to a large extent driven by consumers’ needs. This suggested that ethnic food was endowed with greater cul- tural meanings and become increasingly closer to its cultural roots. They constructed a different kind of Chineseness to represent themselves against the stereotypes in the American imagination. Although most menus in ethnic restaurants give interpretations and expla- nations to dishes from a native and insider’s perspective. but were more interested in learning the cultural connotations of Chinese food and gave increased reverence to it. Restaurant menus relayed more information and cultural knowledge in the new era. By attaching such a restaurant review. Next to that. especially shifting expectations of American consumers about Chinese food and maybe also other ethnic cuisines – Americans not only expected exotic food but also a different cultural experience from ethnic restaurants.A. Although Chinese restaurateurs were trying to reassert 83 . an outsider’s point of view was brought in to com- plement the insider’s. they also showed the will of restaurateurs who wanted to exhibit their culture in the public sphere. some of the menus in Chinese Restaurants were actually attached with restaurant reviews writ- ten by white restaurant critics. menus played other new roles – they acknowledged tradition and communicated culture. the change of the contents and forms in ethnic restaurant menus manifested the change of American attitudes towards ethnicity and ethnic culture. recent menus suggested cultural diversity and the conscious self-expression of the Chinese community. since the menu is also a form of text produced in a certain political. a famous food historian. social and cultural context. The enrichment of cultural contents in menus suggested the change of consumer culture. One of them was written by Charles Perry. By offering knowledge of the cultural and geographical roots of Chinese food through restaurant menus. L. Besides introducing and interpreting new food. The increasing visibility of Chineseness on the new menus showed that Americans tended less to draw Chinese food from its cultural context as in the days when they invented the “American chop suey”. new immigrants resorted to their ethnic cultural heritage to resist assimila- tion in the host country. For instance. Whereas the menus in earlier Chinese restaurants showed more of the homogenizing forces of American society and the acculturation of the Chinese ethnic group. there were two long restaurant reviews that were attached to the menu of China Sea restaurant.

Under the new social and cultural context in which multiculturalism was advocated and celebrated. restaurant staff also used other strategies to in- troduce Chinese food and food culture. new immigrant restaurateurs were in a favora- ble environment to introduce Chinese culinary customs and disseminate Chinese culinary culture to Americans.their cultural authority on Chinese food and challenge the stereotypes im- posed on them by white Americans. but also to prove that new Chinese food has been acknowledged and appreciated culturally by mainstream American society. Jimmy Lo.S.” Sing Tao Daily. the execu- tive chef at Pagoda in San José. January 30. said he stuck to making “authentic” Chinese dishes rather than Americanized ones in the hope of letting Americans know what real Chinese cooking is. The cultural contents of Chineseness were enriched and the nature of Chinese ethnicity was changed in the U. Folder 7. 1997. In addition to menus. they imbued food with more cultural meanings and used it to highlight their ethnicity and cultural heritage. the transforma- tion that happened in the 1970s and 1980s was remarkable. Him Mark Lai Collection. recognition from the white community was still highly valued. Americans who may not have the time or chance to read cookbooks or other books on Chinese food can’t avoid being exposed to the aforementioned information on menus as long as they eat in Chinese restaurants. Instead of conceding to cultural assimilation. Although the new menus in Chinese restaurants gradually became standardized again and tended to be the same everywhere by the end of the 1980s.166 Some restaurateurs even introduced mysterious and lesser-known aspects of Chinese culinary culture through 166 “Jimmy Lo Sticks to Making Real Chinese Food. Adding restaurant reviews written by well-known white food writers did not only aim to attract more white customers. Canton 93. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. While the earlier restaurateurs and chefs offered American customers what they liked and bowed to their preferences. the new generation restaurateurs were so ambitious that they strove to introduce real Chinese cooking to America. 84 . Menus are the most convenient and immediate medium that brings Chinese food and Chinese culinary culture to American diners.

deer antler and the meat from a black-featured chicken.”167 The managing partner said: “We opened this restaurant to educate the American people who think herbal food tastes terrible. November 19.the food they served. A restaurant in San Francisco named Emperor Herbal Restaurant advocated this belief in their culinary practice. In Chinese culinary tradition. In the new age. there’s ‘pearl soup. wild ginseng and white tree fungus… And to maintain youthful beauty. the restaurant encourages the group to share a variety of dishes.”169 As Netta Davis observed. “A Restaurant with a Remedy for What Ails You. In some Chinese restaurants. 1987. this communal style of eating was recommended to American diners: “Family style Oriental dining is featured at the Mandarin Orange Chinese Restaurant… Instead of everyone in a group ordering an entrée for himself. While the earlier restaurateurs totally conformed to the Western way of dining. 168 Ibid.” Los Angeles Times. 85 . 169 “Family Style Dining at Chinese Restaurant. restaurants not only interpreted new dishes.’ which lists among its ingredients snow lotus. March 11. San Francisco Public Library. but also introduced Chinese culinary practices to American customers. 1981. Asian Interest VF Chinese Food Folder 2. Chinese people have held the belief that food has medical values and specific ingredients have healing effects on specific ailments.”168 By using these unusual ingredients to concoct dishes according to traditional Chinese culinary beliefs.” San Francisco Chronicle. Americans tend to share dishes or eat off a communal platter in Chinese restaurants 167 Bruce Cost. women should eat ‘Queen’s Secret.’ made with real ground pearls. Different dishes were advertised as having different medical effects: “For a beauti- ful complexion. everyone can try different things on the table. people sitting at the dining table usually share entrees. Since ancient times. That way. post- 1965 restaurateurs tried to influence the way their American clientele dined. “it might be also that the communal aspect of Chinese food is one reason why Americans seek it out. the Chi- nese restaurant operators of Emperor Herbal Restaurant manifested their increasing cultural pride as well as the desire to have their culture accepted by mainstream society.

Ethnic cultural practices became the sources of inspiration to the mainstream way of life. such as Chi- nese communal dining.” Restaurant Hospitality. no. communal kitchens and new co-ops echoed the spirit of this era. Many communal food activities have been organized since the 1970s. the means of food production and distribution also underwent change.4. The Chinese mode of communal eating probably made average Americans rethink about their own way of dining which was greatly shaped by Western individualism.”170 Restaurant Business connected the popularity of communal dining in America to the experience of American diners in ethnic restaurants. 1999. which were known 170 Netta Davis. Culinary Art Collection. The change of dining modes might have caused ideological change among American eaters.3 (March 2004). 114. “Big Top. 212. 174 Regarding the radical changes in food production. “Changing Tastes: Savor an Array of Vibrant Dishes at an Asian small-plates Party.more commonly than in other restaurants.” Restaurant Business. Ethnic communities. The boom of communal agriculture. 1 (Winter 2002): 70–81. June 1.”172 The practice of sharing food in some ethnic cultures. 174.” Journal for the Study of Food and Society 6. 29. April 1990. They wanted to address alienation in human relations by resorting to a collective way of life. 172 Linda Lau Anusasananan. 171 Elizabeth Bernstein. “To Serve the ‘Other’: Chinese.174 A number of countercultural Americans began to reattach importance to communal life. see Belasco. letting food lovers sample more dishes by sharing little tastes.” Sunset. or even along- side each other at peak periods. distribution and consump- tion in the 1960s and 1970s. The late 1960s and early 1970s witnessed a renaissance of community culture in America. “Sharing many delicious dishes at a communal table has long been a daily ritual in Asian families. 86 .”173 Not only consumption. provided an alternative dining style to Americans. It was not considered odd for strangers to sit opposite at a table for four. Los Angeles Public Library.171 An article from Sunset magazine also noted. Now restaurants around the West are encouraging this way of dining. Restaurant Hospitality reported in 1990. Appetite for Change. Culinary Arts Collection. “Bar Association: How Bar-area Seating Promotes Solo dining and Single-mingling at a number of New York City Restaurants. Los Angeles Public Library. “communal dining was very much in vogue. Los Angeles Public Library.American Immigrants in the Restaurant Business. Culinary Art Collection. 173 Robert Schoolsky. 74.

visions and identities. Although the earlier restaurateurs also drew on certain elements from their ethnic culture to exhibit exoticism. This also suggests that ethnic culture and tradition not only continued to exist. February 28. thanks to the Civil Rights Movement and the subsequent change of the mainstream attitude towards ethnic cultures. it was different from the later ones. eating tools used by Americans in Chinese restaurants also underwent changes. Reasserting their cultural authority in Chinese restaurants. they encouraged non-Chinese din- ers to follow the Chinese way of dining. This reveals the permeability of culture . In the new era. 1972. 87 . but also made Chinese restaurants their own cultural domain.mainstream culture could draw inspira- tion from ethnic cultures and thus acquire new ways of thinking.175 Sing Tao Daily also reported that many Americans were eager to try chopsticks instead of sticking to forks and knives after Nixon’s visit to China. prop- erty. In the first half of the twenti- eth century. The way Chinese represented their culture involved more self-ethnicization than self-expression.176 The Chinese way of dining was gradually accepted by American diners alongside Chinese food. 176 “The Business in Chinese Restaurants is Blooming. This can be seen as a conscious or 175 Based on the author’s personal interviews. restaurant owners claimed American customers used chopsticks more often. Besides the style of dining.for their communal way of life as they usually shared living quarters. Yuk Ow Collection AAS ARC 2000/70. In the earlier period. since the 1960s. the cultural elements the restaurateurs adopted were highly selected and Chinese ethnicity was usually presented in a twisted and distorted way to attract American customers. the social and cultural environment in America wasn’t tolerant enough and didn’t give Chinese restaurateurs much space to present their true cultural selves. Chinese food barely had an influence on mainstream Anglo-American eating except for adding a few sa- vory dishes to the American culinary repertoire. and a new utopian vision of society was formed. provided rich sources for the mentality change of Americans. Folder 15. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkley. Chinese restaurateurs not only represented their ethnicity in a more confident and straightforward way. The communal mentality was extended from dining to other aspects of social life.” Sing Tao Daily. but also exerted an ever-growing influence on mainstream social and cultural life. However. Carton 15.

no. the tastes 177 Simone Cinotto.unconscious act of cultural resistance . 2014. the active role of restaurateurs in connecting Chinese food with its cultural roots was too significant to be ignored. accessed January 14. speaking particularly of the American reception of Chinese food. 6 (2008): 950–74. Although the new restaurateurs still made adaptations and compromises on their food to fit the American market. 88 .by themselves.” The Journal of Popular Culture 41.”177 Gvion and Trostler attributed the change in the form and content of the ethnic restaurant menus between the 1960s and the 1990s to the shift of the American perception of ethnicity. chefs and other staff became the cultural purveyors.they challenged the stereotypes of Chinese food imposed by Americans and attempted to represent Chinese food . “From Spaghetti and Meatballs through Hawaiian Pizza to Sushi: The Changing Nature of Ethnicity in American Restaurants.” New York: The Italian Acad- emy for Advanced Studies in America (2004): 1–2.pdf. White Americans were no longer the “rule makers” but “cultural outsiders”. http://italianacademy.columbia. Simone Cinotto attributed it to the radical transformation in consumption pattern – the “culturaliza- tion” of consumption has “enlarged the quantity of knowledge available on Italian food culture. In analyzing the shift of the perception of Italian food in America that occurred during the late 1960s and early 1970s. besides the transformation of consumer culture and the change of the larger cul- tural environment. “‘Now That’s Italian!’: Representations of Italian Food in American Popular Magazines. and the cultural hierarchy in Chinese restaurants was inverted.178 However. Although the golden rule in the setting of restaurants is that customers are king and res- taurant operators need to fulfil their expectations and demands. to a certain extent they managed to shape and alter the cultural demands and tastes of Americans. 178 Liora Gvion and Naomi Trostler. which I will elaborate on in Chapter Four. the rela- tion between Chinese restaurateurs and white customers changed. Thus. 1950–2000. used chopsticks and followed culinary customs in Chinese important symbol of Chineseness . and restaurant sp04_Cinotto. Chinese culinary beliefs and practices even caused changes in mainstream behaviors and thinking as more Americans adopted communal eating styles.

The body of ethnic cultural knowledge that American diners were ex- posed to in ethnic restaurants enriched their cultural repertoire. 89 . contestations and power relations between ethnic restaurant operators and mainstream cus- tomers. the food in this period also became much more exciting as it was quite different from the old bland Cantonese American fare. Chinese restaurants were an important medium that lured Americans to further explore Chinese culture.“alternative culinary styles enter into our popular culture and become part of the civilizing process. The way the middle and upper class Chinese restaurateurs introduced new food and culinary culture was so distinct from the previous generations . 1984).” in Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States. 179 Roger Abrahams. 23. More importantly.and expectations of customers are constantly shaped by many social agents including ethnic restaurateurs.they not only regenerated the Chinese American culinary culture but also led American customers into a different culinary world of China. As the most ubiquitous cultural emblem of Chinese ethnicity. This suggested a new pattern of cultural negotiations. The introduction of new Chinese food exhibited new characteristics. “Equal Opportunity Eating: A Structural Excursus on Things of the Mouth. it was from ethnic food that Americans learned about cultural relativity and managed to get beyond the stereotypes they imposed on other ethnic groups . Linda Keller Brown and Kay Mussell (Knoxville: The University of Ten- nessee Press. ed. As Roger Abrahams said.”179 The influence of Chinese culinary beliefs and practices on mainstream American eating and thinking has larger cultural implications – American social and cultural life is constantly changing under the influence of ethnic cultures.

Menu of Hong Kong. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. 90 .

Los Angeles. 91 . 6/21/1986. Menu Collection of Los Angeles Public Library. CA.Menu of Dragon Regency.

92 .

Fashionable Food. It completely succumbed to the forces of Americanization and conformed to Western culinary norms. sweet and sour pork.180 This situation didn’t change until the late 1960s when new immigrants arrived. 181 Lovegren.S. Chop suey. became the icon of Chinese food in America. a humble peasant dish from Kwangtung Province. such as “Peking duck”. 112. I examine why Hong Kong cuisine won such great popularity in large American cities and what its special cultural identity was. 93 . but also Fujian. Hakka food gradually became known to Americans with an interest in Chinese food. Chinese food moved far away from its original forms before the 1960s. egg foo young. A large number of new dishes were brought in.3 There was More Than One Cuisine – From Standardized Cantonese American Fare to Diversified Regional Cuisines Due to cultural assimilation in American society.. In this chapter. immediate consumption after cooking and the perfor- mance of artistic improvisation by chefs are essential for achieving high qual- ity dishes.3. I conduct two case studies to explore the introduction and reception of new Chinese regional cuisines in this period. restaurateurs usually used precooked ingre- dients instead of fresh ones to accelerate service. The new immigrants from dif- ferent regions of China brought in a great variety of regional cuisines. Not only Mandarin. the food quality remained at a relatively low level. The arrival of professional chefs elevated the quality of Chinese cuisine to a new level and the arrival of affluent Chinese customers also encouraged and motivated the gentrification of Chinese food in America. etc. which didn’t arouse too much attention in China. was introduced to America. “moo shu pork”. Chaozhou. but many cuisines.181 Chinese food in America became more varied and regionally distinct. Another 180 In Chinese cooking. I put emphasis on the American response to new Chinese food. In addition. “Mongolian beef”. “kung pao chicken”. and Chinese cuisine in America was often equated with several popular Americanized Cantonese dishes such as chow mein. Ameri- cans began to learn that China doesn’t have a national cuisine. and they quickly became popular in the U. and see how it differed from the previous era in which chop suey dominated Chinese American foodscapes. Therefore. Szechuan and Hunan cuisine.1. Even Tibetan food. because of the absence of discerning clientele.

Richman. The Washington Post noticed the difference between Hong Kong restaurateurs and the earlier restaurant operators. the continuous inflow of Hong Kong immigrants brought Hong Kong cuisine to the U. upon the imminent return of Hong Kong to mainland China. This explained the overrepresentation of Hong Kong people in foreign-born Chinese popu- lation in the U. Compared to the immigrants from mainland China.”182 Hong Kong style restaurants in the U. Hong Kong was allocated with independent quotas. As a colony of Great Britain.S.  The Charms of Hong Kong Cuisine and Its Cultural Identity During World War II. Expensive banquets were sometimes held for wealthy Chinese for special occasions like birthdays or weddings. suddenly became fascinated with food with strong and zesty flavors. 94 . “they bring not just plenty of money.” Washington Post. The decade between the 1980s and 1990s witnessed a large influx of Hong Kong people to the U. Hong Kong style restaurants sprung up. Chinatown Branch.S.S. I hope a study of the American response to Szechuan and Hunan cuisine will help explain why food with rich and spicy flavors was gradually becoming “mainstream” in the U. They expect to open nothing less than superstar restaurants. “some cosmopolitan Hong Kong-style restaurants are showing up in Los Angeles and they’re nothing like the 182 Phyllis C. “Chinese Cooking From Hong Kong Revolutionizes N. but sophisticated plans and celebrated chefs. Hong Kong style restaurant were known for their elegant dining environments and exquisite food. Unlike the traditional American Chi- nese restaurants where prices were often cheap. its immigrants were relatively affluent. they usually brought more financial capital into the host country and invested more money into the business they set up. were usually large in size and elaborate in decoration.S. The Los Angeles Times noted in 1990. 1989. Since Hong Kong’s economy was more devel- oped. who were always known for their bland taste buds. April 18. America’s Restaurant Industry. The food they served ranged from delicate snacks to fancy meals with many kinds of delicacies. As Hong Kong immigrants settled down.cultural phenomenon I investigate is why mainstream Americans. a.S. San Francisco Public Library. Asian Interest VF San Francisco-restaurants-Asian.

1990. 1988).” in The Globalization of Chinese Food. 216–17. In order to better explore the reception of Hong Kong food in the U. “Not the same places.S.188 Since the majority of Hong Kong people were descendants of Cantonese immigrants.. Surrey: Curzon Press. 2002). Anderson. H.186 Hong Kong people’s sense of superiority persisted even when they were displaced in foreign countries. 184 Sharon Silva. good education. “Negotiating Multiple Boundaries: Diasporic Hong Kong Identities in the United States. “Chop Suey Goes Upscale.” Asian Interest VF. a special cultural identity was constructed among Hong Kong people. San Francisco- Restaurant-Asian. Hong Kong people had a sense of superiority. David Y. we need to trace it to its source and have a look at the region of Hong Kong and its special culinary culture. The Food of China (New Haven: Yale University Press. many were chains set up by multinational res- taurant corporations from Hong Kong. “Heunggongyan Forever: Immigrant Life and Hong Kong Style – Yumcha in Australia. They not only felt proud of their material wealth.184 Among these restaurants. The establishment of Hong Kong cooking was indebted to both Cantonese urban cooking and Western influence. Not the same old egg roll It’s Haute Chinese. 187 Ibid. 185 Shanshan Lan mentions the British colonial government also played a role in cultivating the unique identity of Hong Kong as distinct from mainland China. no. Wu and Sidney C. January 28. See Shanshan Lan. N. but also boasted the so-called “Hong Kong spirit” which was mainly characterized by good adaptability and perseverance. They distinguished themselves from the mainland Chi- nese by clinging to their regional identity which embodied material wealth. 133. 715.185 Living in a metropolis where the East meets with the West.. 95 .” Los Angeles Times.187 The cultural dis- tinctiveness of Hong Kong can be reflected by its special culinary culture.cheaper places…”183 San Francisco Focus also reported that the upscale Hong Kong restaurants were redefining Chinese dining in the Bay Area.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 19. Cheung (Richmond. H. Cantonese foodways 183 Laurie Ochoa. 6 (November 2012): 708–24. cosmopolitanism and social prestige. 188 E. As Hong Kong experienced rapid economic growth and edged itself into the “Four Asian Tigers” in the latter half of the 20th century. ed. San Francisco Public Library. 186 Siumi Maria Tam.

97–153. ed. 191 Ibid. 192 Jack Goody discussed about the hierarchy of food in Eurasian societies. 190 Sidney C.189 from which Hong Kong inherited a rich culinary heritage. Dim sum is a generic term for a variety of small food items that are savory or sweet.”191 Thanks to such culinary innovations. “Food and Cuisine in a Changing Society. It incor- porated many Western culinary elements over time and developed a cosmo- politan culinary identity. 106.190 Serving the “newly rich”. Cantonese style cooking is often considered the finest of all Chinese regional styles. and highlighted the distinction between haute cuisine and low cuisine. 96 . they soon became popular in large cities. After Hong Kong style restaurants were established. Eating in Hong Kong style restaurants became the culinary fashion. this style of cooking was characterized by “new recipes (stewed in western red wine). H. ex- cellent catering service (individual portions rather than family-style shared dishes and changing dishes for each course of the meal) and outstanding décor and ambience. with the fast economic development in Hong Kong. marry in Suchou. Cook- ing. and often con- sumed together with Chinese tea. dine in Canton. Hong Kong cuisine had long been exposed to Western influence. Having been a British colony for 155 years. see Jack Goody. One particular type of Hong Kong food that received much attention from Americans was dim sum. which Jack Goody would call a “higher cuisine.were in a dominant position in Hong Kong. Wu and Cheung. and die in Liuchou. Cuisine and Class: A Study in Sociology (Cambridge and London: Cam- bridge University Press).” in The Globalization of Chinese Food. To provide a variety of food choice to 189 There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this: “Live in Hangchow. adventurous cooking techniques. Especially during the 1970s. or higher cooking and lower cooking in other words.”192 The ac- ceptance of “higher cuisine” in foreign lands was different from other types of cuisines. elaborate preparation and conspicuous consumption and often associated with people of higher social class. a refined and elegant eating style combining Eastern and Western elements took shape in Hong Kong.” which means you can find the finest food in Canton. Cheung.. 106. a “nouvelle Cantonese cuisine” emerged which combined exotic tastes and expensive ingredients with Western catering. Higher cuisine is usually featured by exotic ingredients.

236–38.193 Being a style of Cantonese food. textures.” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 8. That was why the tasting menu.196 Dim sum.195 There were many reasons for its popular- ity: dim sum is usually light and served in small amounts. Fashionable Food. 196 Americans were so obsessed with culinary variety that they wanted different choices even in one meal. 3 (1997): 295. Hong Kong immigrants brought the practice of Yum Cha to America. 1973. it was Hong Kong immigrants who brought dim sum to the attention of Americans. One report said “Marco Polo lacked foresight. but it didn’t become popular until the emergence of Hong Kong style restaurants.”194 Eating dim sum became a new culinary fad in the 1970s as Sylvia Lovegren discussed in her book Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads. 194 David Nelson.” California Living. no. which offered different choices in one single meal. “To me it’s a Chinese smorgasbord of little plates filled with an almost infinite variety of tantalizing tastes. Dim sum is an indispensable component of Yum 193 Siumi Maria Tam.accompany drinking tea. which meant try- ing several small servings of menus items rather than a single entrée became a trend in restaurant eating throughout the 1980s and 1990s. 106–07. 197 Bernard Pechter. “Non-Chinese Discovering the Virtues of Dim Sum. “Eating Metropolitaneity: Hong Kong Identity in Yumcha. But he slipped up when he failed to record the recipes for those delicate Chinese pastries known as dim sum. which captivated his fellow Venetians. The elevation of the American living standard and the change of the American cultural atmosphere in the latter half of the 20th century generated a demand for culinary variety and cultural sophistica- tion among Americans. As an American food writer admitted. The wide range of choices and tastes in dim sum was also a great attraction to Americans who embraced culinary diversity. 97 . dim sum had actually existed in Chinatowns long before the arrival of Hong Kong immigrants.A. see Brenner. dim sum is bite-sized. Therefore. American Appetite.”197 Together with dim sum. and smells served directly to you at your table. which accorded with the trends of healthy eating in America. April 29. “Delights of Chinese Pastry. Times was filled with articles on dim sum. April 16. 195 Lovegren. He returned from his Chinese travels with ginger. After Hong Kong restaurants made their presence felt. 1981.” Los Angeles Times. quickly won the hearts of Americans. L.

202 It also served as a bond between the Hong Kong diaspora and kept the Hong Kong consciousness alive. “Eating Metropolitaneity. 107. With a distinct regional color.” 291–306. 200 Ibid. urban Hong Kong immigrants who brought this culinary practice to America. As Benedict Anderson asserted in Imagined Communities. the practice of Yum cha contributed to the forma- tion of Hong Kong cultural identity in its culture-searching process. which incorporated a “metropolitaneity” embracing Chinese tradition. “Food and Cuisine in a Changing Society”. 201 Tam. Yum Cha literally means “drinking tea”. see Tam. but also strengthened the social and cultural ties within their real and imag- ined Hong Kong community. 199 Tam. the practice of Yum Cha developed a distinct local identity. As Siumi Maria Tam pointed out. Through the regular ritual of Yum Cha.199 Hong Kong people believed Hong Kong style Yum Cha was the best among all others and could best epitomize their life style.201 Since the earlier immigrants in the U. but it is not limited to tea drinking. “Eating Metropolitaneity. It was the wealthy.. In American Hong Kong style restaurants. geographically dispersed individuals can be connected by 198 Cheung. It is an eating style originating from Canton. Hong Kong immigrants not only preserved their culinary tradition abroad. they didn’t have the tradi- tion of Yum Cha. tasting dim sum and conversing in Cantonese. it is not uncommon to see a group of Chinese gathered around a large table. in- ternational flavors and an innovative spirit. the cultural practice of Yum Cha is endowed with social and cultural meanings – it helps express the cultural identity of Hong Kong immigrants and reinforces their group solidarity. “Heunggongyan Forever.Cha. it became an occa- sion not only for business activities but also for family get-togethers. were mostly from rural areas of Kwangtung.” 98 . it was a usual practice of getting together to eat breakfast among merchants and traders with the main purpose of exchanging information and conducting business.S. it is now Hong Kong rather than Canton that sets the standards for Yum cha.” 133. 131. 202 Siumi Maria Tam traced how Yum Cha has been constructed as representative of Hong Kong culture.198 In Hong Kong. At first. When it was later introduced to Hong Kong.200 Thanks to the speedy commercial and cultural development in Hong Kong. sipping tea.

203 The concept of “cultural community” raised by Huping Ling. Dim sum is served exactly the same way as it is in Hong Kong. but was socially defined by the common cultural memories. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. the Hong Kong diaspora who shared a common cultural past were in the position to form their own cultural community. Hong Kong immigrants not only retained their eating practices and tradi- tion within their own community. San Francisco Public Library. Asian Interest VF San Francisco-restaurants-Asian. Yum Cha can be seen as an embodiment of their imagined community in the minds of Hong Kong people. which is a traditional signal of asking for a refill. The regional cultural identity of Hong Kong can be expressed through the culinary practice of Yum Cha in Hong Kong diasporic communities. Ling argues that a new model of Asian American community came into being recently which had no particular physical boundaries. ed.J. 203 Benedict Anderson. Expanding Boundaries (New Brunswick. ed. 205 Carole Terwilliger Meyers. With great variety to choose from. In spite of their diffuse geographic locations. “Dining Out Chinese Style. The server walks around the room and stops at each table. the server tallies the bill by counting the plates and baskets left on the table.205 At the end of the meal.” Parents’ Press. but also introduced them to Americans. they alert the server by turning the teapot’s lid on its side. Australia or Europe as long as Yam Cha style restaurants existed. echoes Anderson’s idea. 99 . 2009). 204 Huping Ling. rev.shared values and practices. Asian America: Forming New Communities. the Hong Kong diaspora was connected by their shared history and food practices.: Rutgers University Press. The cultural practices like Yam Cha enabled Hong Kong immigrants to maintain their special cultural identity and avoid being assimilated either in American mainstream society or the larger Chinese community..204 In this vein. A server usually brings customers either a tray or wheels a cart laden with various food items that are usually put in steamer baskets or small plates. 1991). fish and shellfish usually swim in tanks and are netted the moment they need to be cooked. January 1986. practices and values of its members. (London: Verso. no matter in the United States. In American Hong Kong style restaurants. a scholar on Asian American studies. N. cus- tomers could pick what was most appealing to them. If customers want more tea.

This means no chicken feet. or walked. China has always been a nation with a large population and limited natural resources. no claws. meat was usually served on the bone and shellfish with unpeeled shells. A food writer said that the difference between the food in Hong Kong style restaurants and in Americanized Chinese restaurants can be summed up by the phrase “bones and shells.Interestingly. In earlier Cantonese restaurants. Hong Kong people kept their cultural practices intact and introduced them to American customers. in order to attract mainstream American custom- ers and also to avoid attacks on their “strange” foodways. No appendages or extremities (no tongues. America’s Restaurant Industry. Rather than conform to Anglo-American eating conventions and serving food in a West- ern style. Unlike the earlier immigrants who concealed their culinary practices in public settings. it was in Hong Kong restaurants that this culinary practice was most boldly and evidently observed. That means nothing with eyeballs. fresh fish were plucked alive from tanks and often served whole to diners. duck was served with the head. Gradually. However. breathed. 75–6. “Chinese Cooking From Hong Kong Revolutionizes N. no feet. 2008). restaurateurs 206 Richman. Actually. Hong Kong immigrants observed their own dining customs and tradition in their restaurants. 100 . no shrimp with shells. Americans found the dining experience fun and exciting rather than bizarre and strange. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food (New York: Twelve. For in- stance. there should be nothing where you have to chew on something and then spit out an inedible part.207 In contrast to the United States. That is.” 207 Jennifer Lee.”206 In Hong Kong restaurants. this became part of their eating habits. this culinary practice was not limited to Hong Kong style restaurants. swam. Ordinary Chinese people couldn’t afford to have eating taboos. no fish with bones. but could also be seen in many other new Chinese restaurants. so they ate and savored everything on an animal. no ears)… But perhaps most important in American eating is the idea that what goes into the mouth should never come out. Jennifer Lee talked about eating taboos in contemporary American society: Mainstream Americans don’t like to be reminded that the food on their plate once lived.

removed “controversial” items from their menus. assertive sauces and familiar American Chinese ingredients” and “the level of cooking and presentation was higher 208 On the emergence of an extremist foodie culture in the U.. Fearless Eaters. In describing a Hong Kong restaurant in Burlingame. chicken feet. December 18.208 Hong Kong restaurants belonged to neither of these two types. non-Chinese customers could select what suited their palates from the extensive menus. “Exotic Chinese Meals at Hong Kong Transplant. but also brought a holistic eating philosophy – “eating the whole animal” . some of the restau- rants made non-Chinese diners their major client base and were dedicated to satisfy their palate with more “Americanized” food. and the Making of a New American Food Culture (New York: Penguin.S. 1991. etc. a restaurant critic wrote: “the meals here take on a ceremonial cast as they do at formal French restaurants” and recom- mended it as a place to go “when you want to have a civilized the American public. see Dana Good- year. San Francisco Public Library Chinatown Branch. Although as a commercial space all the restaurants welcomed both Chinese and non-Chinese customers. 209 Patricia Unterman. which later became a part of American foodie culture. In the new generation restaurants. they still attracted substantial number of non-Chinese diners. “elabo- rate”. 2013). was different from that of other Chinese regional cuisines. Thanks to the wide range of choices offered. but to a different extent. intestine. adaptations were also made to appeal to the American palate. “upscale”. while some others attracted Chinese customers with food agreeable to the Chinese palate. “elegant” were frequently used. the observation was made that “Hong Kong-style fare tastes quite different from the old-fashioned Chi- natown dishes with thickened gravies. Although they made little adaptations of food. 101 . Asian Interest VF.” San Francisco Chronicle.S. Whenever Hong Kong restaurants were mentioned in newspapers and magazines. In restaurants mainly targeting Chinese customers. They not only satisfied the needs of Chinese customers. Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs. San Francisco- restaurants-Asian.”209 In an article titled “East Comes West: The bustling Hong Kong Restaurants Introduce a New Chinese Style to the Bay Area”. food that seemed intimat- ing to Americans appear on menus such as whole fish. words like “luxurious”. The reception of Hong Kong cuisine in the U.

October 30. 1991. it seemed that Americans considered Hong Kong cooking sophisticated. 211 Linda Burum. 2004. Times recorded a culinary trip of a group of American 210 Patricia Unterman. With more Americans travelling to Hong Kong. Cuisine and Class. the cuisine they brought to America was usually sophisticated. Since many of the Hong Kong restaurants were either owned by wealthy merchants from Hong Kong or by large Hong Kong restaurant corporations. 212 Zhao asserted there were five culinary stratums in Chinese feudalistic society. For instance.” San Francisco Chronicle. cheap and humble fare. refined.”210 The Los Angeles Times praised the dim sum at Mission 261: “they’re delicious . The emergence of Hong Kong food debunked the stereotypes of Chinese food. In the transnational context. distinctive and serious. “Mission 261 is the place for serious Hong Kong-style eating.A. 213 Goody. the socioeconomic status of Chinese immigrants determined the nature of the cuisine they brought to the host country. Cooking. March 3. and of high quality. Zhao. L. 102 . “East Comes West: The bustling Hong Kong Restaurants Introduce a New Chinese Style to the Bay Area.than anything I had seen outside of Hong Kong. Not surprisingly. Chinese cuisine was a highly differentiated cuisine in line with social stratum. Hong Kong restaurants and food were perceived differently from other types of Chinese restaurants and other regional cuisines. 113. culinary culture of the city firsthand. au courant style of upscale Hong Kong tea halls… Beyond the fanciful shapes of the quirkier items lies seriously good eating that can often measure up to the best to be had in Hong Kong.”211 To sum up.” Los Angeles Times. they experienced the cosmopolitan. A Introduction to Chinese Dining Culture. their acceptance followed different paths.213 people of different socioeconomic sta- tuses had their own way of cooking and eating. Huge differences existed between the diets of people from different socioeconomic classes. The status quo of Hong Kong was also an important factor in the acceptance of Hong Kong food in America. There was a world of difference between the fare introduced by the earlier Cantonese immigrants and the food brought in by the recent arrivals from Hong Kong. 57–77.prepared in the delicate.212 Since “the hierarchy between ranks and classes takes a culinary form” in China. The representation of Hong Kong food in American media reflected the nation’s perception of it. which was often deemed a fast.

and reported that California-style cooking. “The adoption of new food tastes is probably facilitated by an absence of lower-status people from whose homelands they originate. French and Mexican cuisine could all be found on the island. the Hong Kong immigrants were proud of their culture and manifested this cultural pride through their food and food practices. I boldly assume that the presence of higher-status 214 Margaret Sheridan. Since Hong Kong immigrants usually brought more financial capital. 216 Krishnendu Ray. 103 . it is fair to say that what these immigrants brought to the United States was “high cuisine.S. 215. a subgroup of the greater Chinese community.” Hong Kong immigrants not only maintained their food practices and tradition but also introduced their culinary culture to the American public in restau- rants. many of the Hong Kong style restaurants were high-end establishments featuring high-class cuisine and luxurious decoration. Based on the large amount of money and a considerable number of food professionals that concentrated in Hong Kong style restaurants. “Ethnic Succession and the New American Restaurant Cui- sine. By holding onto their special cultural practices like Yum cha. Unlike earlier Cantonese immigrants who were less confident to display their real food practices in public. 101. 1996. Paradox of Plenty. Their impression of Hong Kong influenced how they perceived Hong Kong food in the U. “The Toniest Restaurants in Town Are American in Style and Attitude. resisted cultural assimilation in American society and refused to be submerged into the generic category of “Chinese. Australian and New Zealand wine. Food historian Harvey Levenstein once said. April 21.” in The Restaurant Book: Ethnographies of Where We Eat.214 The all-embracing “East meets West” culinary characteristic of Hong Kong was impressive to Americans. Hong Kong immigrants. 215 Levenstein. David Beriss and David Sutton (Oxford and New York: Berg.”215 Krishnendu Ray also attributed the undervaluation of Italian food in America before the 1960s to the lower social status of Italian Americans most of who were living in ghettos at the time. 2007).chefs to Hong Kong.” Los Angeles Times.” They maintained and expressed their distinctive regional identity. ed. Italian.216 In this vein. Thai food.

In addition. – two finest cuisines in the world. The socioeconomic statuses of the immigrants who import the cuisine as well as the situation of the home country (land) play an important role in the acceptance of an ethnic cuisine in a foreign country.”217 Riding on the hot wave ignit- ed by spicy Szechuan cooking. the cuisine introduced by higher-class immigrants and that by the lower-class follow different paths during their acceptance. The status of Hong Kong cuisine which was associated with the wealthy Hong Kong people was certainly different from the earlier Can- tonese food associated with poor Cantonese labor workers. Both 217 Lovegren. 107–08. The humble and crude Cantonese country fare and the sophisticated and cosmopolitan Hong Kong cuisine have different cultural connotations to Americans. social. the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of the region from where the cuisine comes also affect the status of the cuisine in the host country. But how can we explain the different ways of reception between Italian and French cuisine or between Hong Kong and other Chinese regional cuisines in America? The reception of a foreign cuisine in a transnational context is determined by a range of complex economic. Based on the representation of Hong Kong food in American media. It is much easier for high-class ethnic cuisine to be accepted by the mainstream urban middle-class American diners as it was shown by the American reception of Hong Kong food. The issue of race and racial hierarchy in American society may help explain the difference between the reception of French and Chinese cuisine in the U. Even within the same ethnicity or nationality. The Awakening of the American Palate – America’s Love Affair with Spicy Szechuan and Hunan Cuisine In Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads Sylvia Lovegren talked about Szechwan cooking: “Reports began coming in about strange new restaurants serving strange new dishes.S. b. Fashionable Food. Hong Kong cuisine seemed to enjoy a much higher status than other types of Chinese food. they liked. 104 . fiery with hot peppers and strong tastes… And what they ate.immigrants from a certain place could be conducive to the acceptance of the cuisine from that place. cultural or even political dynamics. Hunan food came into vogue later.

the stretch of Upper Broadway in Manhattan where nearly every block had its Szechuan or Hunan restaurant.3. two relatively remote and economically underdeveloped provinces in China. 219 Ibid. David Keh’s Szechuan on Broadway and Ninety-fifth Street. June. Andrew Coe described the craze for the two regional cuisines in the city: “Eateries like Szechuan Taste on Chatham Square. why did eating the food from Szechuan and Hunan.Chinese cuisines first achieved popularity in New York City.219 Travel & Leisure also reported in 1972. Chop Suey. 222 Based on the author’s personal interviews. Oh. asking for chop suey was “out” and savoring Szechuan or Hunan food was “in” in the 1970s and 1980s.”221 In Chinese restaurants. is this shared trait the main reason for their popularity? Why did Americans. Including Spicy Dish- es. “Farewell Cantonese. they also like things with a touch of spiciness. If the popularity of Hong Kong food can be credited to the higher socio- economic status of Hong Kong immigrants and the region’s cosmopolitan culinary culture.” Los Angeles Times. richly spiced food…”220 The culinary trend quickly spread to other large cities such as San Francisco. Chinese restaurateurs and chefs often said. have become commonplace at these newer establishments and are available in wide variety.”218 There was even a “Szechuan Valley” (also known as “Hunan Gulch”) . 1972. 220 Silas Spitzer. July.. Hello Szechuan. suddenly embrace food with rich and bold flavors? And what did this change suggest? When asked which flavor(s) American diners like best in American Chi- nese restaurants.” Travel & Leisure. become a culinary trend? As both cuisines are known for their strong and spicy flavors (although they are spicy in different ways). Los Angeles and San Diego. March 14. 221 David Nelson. “Restaurants Explore Chinese Cuisine. 2. 244. and Szechuan East on Second Avenue and Eightieth Street flourished and spread as chefs followed opportunities. 105 . 1985. “The pepper flavors of Szechuan and Hunan. a people known for their mild taste buds and less spiced diet.”222 218 Coe. once paid scant attention by San Diego’s longer-established Chinese houses. As many as a dozen of new recently converted restaurants specialize in this peppery. “sweet and sour are their favorite. 223–24. “In Manhattan an almost fanatical Szechuan cult has sprung up only in the past few years.

“The American Response to Italian Food. it always main- tained a cherished dependence on British traditions in terms of cooking. most Americans still had a long way to go to achieve a real understanding and appreciation of food. Americans began to manifest a particular enthusiasm for food with vibrant and pronounced flavors.”225 Although some regional foodways were full of fresh. see Brenner. colorful and flavorful dishes. but why “spiciness”? And when did Americans develop an appetite for spicy food? It is a well-known fact that Americans didn’t pay much attention to their palates and usually had a strange preference of insipidity. the Puritan tradition restricted Americans from gaining sensual pleasures from eating and also from seeking stimuli for their taste buds. With prepackaged products. The scientific food movement in the first half of the 20th century. integrating them in ways that did not disturb essentially British palates.224 In addition. and especially 223 Leslie Brenner acknowledged that on account of the lack of attention they paid to their palates.223 The bland palates of Americans might be part of their British culinary heritage.” 75. American Appetite. However. Eating in America (New York: William Morrow and Company. although the United States attained political independence from Britain early in 1778. 470–75. was a perfect demonstration of this culinary predisposition. mass production deprived food of its regional characteristics and peculiarity. and reduced the taste of food to the lowest denominator as embodied by the food products at McDonald’s. see Waverley Root and Richard Rochemont.It is not hard to understand the “sweet and sour” part. As Waverley Root and Richard Rochemont asserted. 251. Waverley Root and Richard Rochemont also talked about the lack of attention to the intrinsic quality of food among Americans. 224 Root and Rochemont. 1976). 106 . Inc. they were confined to particular regions. Eating in America. 225 Harvey Levenstein. which placed more value on nutrition than flavor. since the 1980s. mass production also ex- erted a homogenizing influence on the American palate. As Harvey Levenstein said “Over the years Americans have added ingredients of overseas origin to their cuisine and have even adopted some foreign methods of preparing and serving food. but they have been relentless in domesticating them. frozen food as well as numerous national fast food chains. Beside these. which Americans inherited from their British ancestors. 9–11..

Southwestern foodways. the American consumption of hot spices was 139. 229 Root and Rochemont. and Ameri- cans began to consume more hot and spicy foods than ever before. it was the strong and rich flavors of the two regional cuisines that appealed to American eaters. This represented a major change in the American national taste pattern - “hot and spicy food has become part of the everyday American diet. According to a review of Szechuan Palace in Gourmet Magazine. have always been known for the frequent use of chilies.229 Through the case study of Szechuan and Hunan cuisine.”226 A food journal named The Whole Chile Pepper came out in 1987. Apparently.” Gourmet. the dish that won the most commendation from cus- tomers was catfish with garlic. The L.spicy food. which was devoted entirely to the introduction of spicy food. but they basically remained regional phenomena in several states like Texas. Their taste buds seemed to heat up all of a sudden.”230 It was the aggres- sively spicy food that aroused the interest of the American diners. Arizona and New Mexico. 278–79. November 13. scallion. 228 Barbara Hansen. January 2. September 28. 1985. 1986. Another 226 Nancy Backas.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Public Library.A.6 million pounds a year and it was a 45% increase from 10 years earlier. “Hot New Magazine Devoted to Spicy Cuisine Suits Taste of Aficionados. May 1980. Puzo. and see how Ameri- cans comprehended and responded to the relatively unfamiliar tastes of Szechuan and Hunan. Culinary Arts Collection. which was “smothered with a colorful and spicy gingery sauce composed of many minced vegetables – celery.” Restaurant & Institutions.and garnished with huge garlic cloves steamed to softness and rectangles of deep-fried bean curd. Be- tween 1980 and 1984. I explore the American perception of richly spiced food. influenced by Mexican cooking.” Los Angeles Times.”228 The food from Szechuan and Hunan were by no means the first cuisines with conspicuous spicy elements Americans were exposed to. and red chilies among them. 230 Caroline Bates. “Some Like It – Hot & Spicy.227 The increase in the consumption of spicy food among Americans was to a large extent influenced by regional and ethnic cooking. 107 . 227 Daniel P. Times reported on the trend of eating hot and spicy food. 1989. Eating in America. but for many it can’t compete with the zesty foods dispensed by the city’s ethnic and regional restaurants. “Szechwan Palace. “bland may not be bad. “Hot and Spicy.

peppercorns and red chili oil produced in the fertile Sichuan basin add a distinctive flavor to the colorful dishes prepared by the restaurant chefs.” 235 Betsy Balsley. Hello Szechuan. another food writer associated tasting spicy food with bravery. A writer described his dining experience in Shun Lee Palace. and encouraged readers to try it: “Try using only one chili in the beginning. drained.”235 Through the representation of Sichuan and Hunan food in mainstream American media. one of the most influential figures in the American gastronomic world. wine. a renowned restaurant specializing in Szechuan food: “I asked for Szechuan Beef. In introducing Hunan dishes. Newspapers and magazines encouraged Americans to try dishes with more unconventional and exciting flavors 231 Jay Jacobs. Food writers exhibited no hesitation in trying food with “authen- tic” vibrant flavors. “Peng’s. One restaurant review stated. 232 Andrea Troutman. and chilled…). with no cowardly compromise.” Los Angeles Times. 234 Spitzer. demanding that it be cooked in Chef Wang’s most ‘sincere’ manner.” Gourmet. “Farewell Cantonese. or use a slightly milder variety. described his din- ing experience in Henry Chung’s Hunan Restaurant in San Francisco. Hunan Style. and your palate may be braver the next time. “Red chili peppers. “Steamed & Spicy. 1983.” Los Angeles Times.”234 It seemed that Americans diners were eager and ready to try bolder and spicier food.”232 When James Beard. a magnificent pork dish with hot overtones and deliciously crisp vegetables. 108 . July 8. we can see the American perception of food of unfamiliar and unexpected tastes has changed. August. 1977. then simmered with herbs. a dish made with smoked ham in which the smokiness permeated the hot Hunanese saucing in a most exciting way…”233 Almost everything he tasted had a touch of heat. “Beard on Food: Henry’s San Francisco Treat – Smoked Ham Hocks. January 25.”231 Spiciness was definitely a selling point rather than a setback for the acceptance of the two distinctive cuisines. 1979. “the best to my taste are aromatic beef (which is marinated with no fewer than eighteen spices in a blend of vinegar. You’ll get the essence of the dish.writer commented on the food in Peng’s Hunan. His writing betrayed Americans’ fascination with exotic and fiery flavors. and soy sauce. “Spicy and Mild Chinese Dishes Served Daily at Camarillo Restaurant. 1984. 233 James Beard and Jose Wilson. April 16.” Los Angeles Times. he recalled “we had a spicy chicken with a hint of curry.

rather than stay with the flavors they were comfortable and familiar with. see Levenstein.” 109 . March 14. but also now reached the general public. Following spicy Szechuan and Hunan. As these foreign influenc- es sophisticated the American palate. And culinary sophistication was not only boasted by a small number of gourmets and culinary elites. culinary ad- venturism gathered its momentum. It seemed that Americans were getting bored of the insipid and flavor- less food that used to fit their Anglo-American palates so well.A. They awakened and sophisticated the palates of mainstream Americans. KFC and McDonald’s even launched their spicy versions of chicken wings and sandwiches respectively. One article in L. Spicy Sauces a Sure Cure for Boredom Brought on by Bland Foods. 1985. “The American Response to Italian Food.”236 The American palate was evolving and expanding in the new age. mass-produced Mexican food also made its way into the mainstream American eating. Americans seemed to turn against their Puritan tradi- tion and undo the legacy of the scientific food movement. they had more opportunities to get to know cuisines of bold flavors. As Americans dined out more often. fiery Thai. The American fascination with intense and spicy flavors seemed to be more than a passing fad since it didn’t abate over the years. the influence of regional and foreign cuisines served as a counterforce.” Los Angeles Times. Culinary conservatism no longer held sway. hot Korean. instead. Bland tastes were on their way to becoming part of the American culinary past. 237 On the change of the American perception of Italian food. Times said “hot and spicy sauces are a sure cure for one thing: bland and boring food. Americans went a long way from frown- ing upon the zestfully spiced Italian food at the turn of the 20th century to embracing the intense and strong notes in Szechuan and Hunan cuisine. “Hot. the flavors of hot and spicy gradually gained mainstream acceptance. As Americans frequently dined out and sought new taste sensations and culinary adventures.237 In the terms of eating. Indonesian and Indian cooking successively gained a foothold in the Ameri- can food market. Although mass production ravaged and dulled the American palate with standardized and banal food products. their taste boundaries were constantly expanding. Since the early 1980s. salsa outsold 236 Barbara Gibbons.

“Ethnic Cuisine: Culture in Nature. The growing interest of Americans in food of strong.”242 Then what did Americans “take in” from Szechuan and Hunan cuisine.” 242 Pierre L. Van den Berghe. Spicy Flavors are the Rage.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 7. “as an outsider consuming an exotic cuisine. their very Anglo-American palate has also underwent fundamental change. Oc- tober 17.” Associate Press. 239 Stacy Finz. 238 “Salsa Outsells Ketchup as American Tastes Change. 3 (July 1984): 387–97.ketchup.238 San Francisco Chronicle went on to assert in 2006: “If people re- ally are what they eat. “America’s Mean Cuisine: More Like It Hot/ From Junk Food to Ethnic Dishes.1. Harvey Levenstein’s statement of “American tastes in food have remained resolutely Anglo-Saxon”241 no longer held water in the new age – Americans not only incorporated new ingredients. In 2010. no. a food magazine article titled “Exotic Flavors Go Mainstream” claimed that “products that were edgy and exotic only a few years ago are being assimilated into the American palate. foreign cooking methods into their diet. Americans were going extreme and embracing sharp. Van den Berghe said. vibrant and complex tastes as they rediscovered their palates.”240 The change of the American palate manifested the great influence exerted by ethnic food on the mainstream eating. “The American Response to Italian Food.” Baking Management 14. spicy and zesty flavors could be seen as a rebellion against their banal and insipid daily fare. we are becoming a nation of hotties. 2013. January 1. Sensing their tastes were deteriorating through consuming bland food products churned out by giant food corporations.foxnews. 110 . 241 Levenstein. 2006. 2010. 240 Matthew Reynolds. April 16. one is literally ‘taking in’ the foreign culture. “Exotic Flavors Go Mainstream.” San Francisco Chronicle. A and what did the words “Szechuan” and “Hunan” imply to Americans when they ate or thought of the food from the two regions? I’d like to borrow the concept of “culinary tourism” from Lucy Long to analyze the consumption of these two particular regional Chinese cuisines. which consisted of many mass-produced food products.”239 The spectrum of the American palate was obviously widening. america-is-influencing-our-taste-buds-one-tortilla-chip-at-time/.

It was the food from Hunan and Szechuan that incited American curiosity of the two regions that most had never been to or probably had never heard of before.”243 She argued that food “can carry us into other realms of experience. food magazines. cookbooks. cuisine. and the recipe sections of local and national newspapers enable us to experience vicariously the cuisines and foodways of others. it is a prosperous province whose rich agriculture was undisturbed by the political upheavals of the coast. Long (Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. Restaurant. Long. “She cooked all our meals on a big. . Representation of the two regional foods in mass media enabled Americans to be culinary tourists without having to leave home. We spent rainy days around the stove. Such representation constructed a cultural “Otherness” and opened 243 Lucy M. Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook (New York: Harper & Row. “Our life revolved around my mother’s kitchen. In one cookbook the authors introduce Szechuan and its lifestyle: Szechwan is a special province of gourmets. My brothers and sisters and I would run in and snatch a piece of fruit or a bit of salted vegetable to eat on the way to school. which formed a sharp contrast to the bustling urban life that most of the readers were leading. cookbooks played an important role in providing further information about Szechuan and Hunan. and gave them access to foreign cultural spaces and let them mentally experience these exotic places. 1.”245 This description depicts a serene. 244 Lucy M. 1976).” she recalls. or eat- ing style considered to belong to a culinary system not one’s own. “Culinary Tourism: A Folkloristic Perspective on Eating and Otherness. As a girl. and presentation of a food item. . 21. Introduction to Culinary Tourism. making lollipops or frying glutinous rice until it popped like popcorn . meal system. Chiang heard about floods and famines elsewhere in China. For those interested in the food. Lucy M. isolated deep in the heart of China. Long. preparation. allowing us to be tourists while staying at home. exploratory participa- tion in the foodways of an other – participation including the consumption. but they never disturbed her family’s placid life in the fertile countryside outside of Chengdu. 2004). televised cooking shows. food can transport people to other places. ed. primitive and pastoral life. 245 Ellen Schrecker and John Schrecker. Mrs.” in Culinary Tourism.”244 Employed as a vehicle. wood-burning brick stove that practically filled the kitchen. 111 . 4–5.Long defined “culinary tourism” as “the intentional.

Serving as the cultural Other. The same can be said about Italian cuisine in almost the same time period. strange and novel cultural spheres that the culinary tourists were eager to visit. fostered a cultural imagination of Szechuan and Hunan among American readers in spite of the remote physical distance. 1978). the author interspersed recipes with legends and customs of Hunan. connections (no mat- ter how superficial they were) were established between consumers and the cultural origins of the cuisines. microclimate. the discourse of Italian food in American media began to attach importance to its regional distinction: “The field reportages…of Travel Holiday and… The New York Times Magazine examined the culinary systems of different sub-regions of Italy. 17. It was such unknown. connecting the origin of foods with the natural resources. in an area to a designated spot and send them back when desired.”247 The regional cuisines of Tuscany. 112 . The author stated that Hunan is a won- derland with many legendary stories. large and small. Since the 1970s. between the local and global. the author cre- ated a fantasy cultural space that was totally exotic and unfamiliar to most Americans. which was provided by mass media like food magazines and cookbooks.. Valle d’Aosta and the town of Merano were given special attention. Through food consumption and cultural imagination. The trend of highlighting distinctions between different types of regional cooking within one ethnic cuisine instead of perceiving one ethnic cuisine as an indiscriminate whole was not limited to Chinese cuisine. material culture and history of the areas in question.246 By portraying the mysterious and inscrutable side of Hunan.248 It was those specific locations that served as cultural 246 Henry W. 1. S. 248 Ibid. Cultural informa- tion about the two regions. the cuisines of Hunan and Szechuan offered Americans a chance to break from their daily routine and experience other cultural worlds. Chung. He gave the audience a few examples: A Kung Fu master can knock a man unconscious or paralyze him just by tapping on certain blood vessels with his fingertips. A snake caller can call all the snakes. “Now That’s Italian!” 18. 247 Simone Cinotto.a different cultural world for the American readers to explore. In Henry Chung’s Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook. Henry Chung’s Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook (New York: Harmony Books. and he is the only one capable of reviving the victim.

No longer completely conforming to Anglo- American eating preferences.. By eating food of others and establishing imaginative contacts with various geographical and cultural Others like Hunan or Tuscans. Through eating and 249 Ibid. and became one of the most popular Chinese regional cuisines.“the world is on a plate”. Hunan and Szechuan cooking together with Mexican and other ethnic cuisines of strong flavors have shaped and are still shaping the American palate. Americans were capable of conducting a culinary and cul- tural tour around the world without leaving their home. the exploration of the Other is also an exploration of the self.was a good manifestation of this inclination.S.S.alternatives in the American imagination. The popular saying . I would like to argue that the tendency of detecting regional nuances within a particular ethnic cuisine among Americans was more about an expression of their cultural sophistication and cosmopolitan identity than a desire of actually being engaged in a particular regional culture. Thus. the special identity of Hong Kong. they explored different imaginative cultural spheres. The introduction and reception of Chinese cuisine after 1965 manifested new characteristics. In a certain sense. 17. Tuscany was often conceived as an idyllic escape and a site of anticipated pleasures in America. by lower-class immigrants. Americans displayed their worldli- ness and competence of comprehending and dealing with cultural diversity. Their desire of performing a cosmopolitan cultural identity was betrayed. its unique regional culinary culture as well as the high socio- economic status of Hong Kong restaurateurs all contributed to the prosperity of Hong Kong food in America. ethnic cuisines in the new era were also influenc- ing American eating and American culinary culture.. Unlike the earlier humble Cantonese American food which was brought into the U. cookbooks and other forms of mass media on ethnic cuisines.249 Thanks to the existence of ethnic restaurants. As previously demonstrated. Hong Kong cuisine that came with the relatively affluent Hong Kong immigrants won a higher culinary status in the U. Based on the food literature that often placed emphasis on the cultural otherness and exoticism of ethnic cuisine. The act of exploring “the global” through food helped Americans establish a “cosmopolitan” cultural status. 113 .

2 Americanized Panda .. But business here seems really dull compared with the long line surrounding the other counter. Americans attempted to perform a cosmopolitan identity and exhibit their cultural sophistication. At twelve a. Chinese fast food restaurants mushroomed since the 1980s such as Quick Wok. this Panda logo can be found almost everywhere within urban America. Although ethnic and foreign cuisines were received with unprecedented tolerance and appreciation by American society after 1965. it doesn’t mean ethnic foods were free from cultural assimilation. the emergence of Chinese fast food chains showed 114 . 3. Whereas the great enrichment and diversification of Chinese food after the 1960s signified the culinary democratization and cultural tolerance of American society. S. it is not hard to tell that Chinese food is served.experiencing culinary and cultural Others. from the fancy shopping mall Nor- dstrom in downtown San Francisco and to the beautiful campus of UCLA to JFK international airport. There are only two options for diners. The quietness inside the library forms a sharp contrast to the bustling world outside filled with roars of endless cars. As the largest national Chinese fast food chain. Oriental Express.m. the ubiquitous presence of Panda Express in the American urban landscape is quite impres- sive. and Mark Pi have all rapidly made their presence felt since the 1980s. One of them is a small counter selling salad bowls and sandwiches. The homogenizing forces of American society were still shaping ethnic foods... the readers who have spent an entire morn- ing studying in the library temporarily put aside their thirst for knowledge and give priority to their hunger for food. Besides in the Los Angeles Public Library.A. which was best mani- fested through the emergence and development of ethnic fast food. Los Angeles Public Library is like Shan- gri-La for people who want some peace of mind. Chinese fast food chains became a part of the American fast food landscape. there is a little food court in the corner of the ground floor.The Rise of Chinese Fast Food Chains Located in central downtown L. Scattered throughout the U. Panda Express is by no means the only player of this game. With the Latino counterman shouting “kung pao chicken” and “Beijing beef” to his co-workers back in the kitchen as well as the con- spicuous business logo of a giant panda. Luckily for them.

Although fast food might have existed for centuries in the world. 2003). or whether it indicates that ethnic foods and ethnic enterprises are still under the influence and shaped by the dominant Anglo-American culture. “the fast food 250 Belasco. here I am talking about mass-produced fast food in industrialized societies. quick-setting concept in order to enter the American fast food market. This part revolves around the issue how Chinese food. Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press. 251 Levenstein. the international spread of franchised foods is re- garded as worldwide Americanization. Eric Schlosser writes in the beginning of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.250 The fast food industry seemed to serve the “American obsession with time and labor-saving” perfectly well with its “lightning-fast service. culinary and economic adaptations. drive-in convenience. This section focuses on the emergence and development of Chinese fast food restaurants. which boasts a long history and is heavily loaded with cultural meanings. “Ethnic Fast Foods.”251 Fast food also exerted a huge influence in shaping American modern life. I also explore the significance of ethnicity in fast food restaurants.” 1. It explores whether the development of the ethnic fast food industry suggests the democratiza- tion of American food culture in the sense that all ethnic culinary cultures could be accepted and tolerated. Furthermore.a different side of the story. 227–28. A detailed study is conducted on one of the most successful Chinese fast food chains – Panda Express – through which I seek to investigate what specific changes Chinese cook- ing underwent in fitting into the fast food category and what were the agents of the cultural. and the economies of mass production techniques. The advent of fast food is usually seen as a quintessential American phe- nomenon. adjusted itself to mass-produced. It demonstrated the impact of Americaniza- tion on ethnic foodscapes. and see if the ethnic capital possessed by the Chinese restaurateurs contributed to the success of Panda Express. I further examine to what extent Panda Express was Americanized and to what extent it was committed to Chinese ethnic heritage. 115 . It examines the earliest attempts of non-Chinese and Chinese entrepreneurs in adapting Chinese food to fit the American fast food pattern.

espe- cially in the sphere of consumption. See Ritzer and Stillman. it was the rise of McDonald’s that marked a new era.253 This gave birth to new forms of restaurants. the corporate form domi- nated the fast food restaurant industry and made independent businesses vulnerable in front of competition from big corporations. 254 McDonaldization refers to the diffusion of a paradigm in the business world or other institutions that based on the McDonald’s model. The emer- gence of ethnic fast food. 116 . McDonaldization. which highly values standardized products and efficiency. NY: Houghton Mifflin Company. Riding on the ethnic food boom in the 1970s.” 30–48. was recognized 252 Eric Schlosser. workforce.”254 Both food and dining environments in such restaurants was standardized to maintain consistency for the purpose of mass marketing.” As McDonald’s is often seen as a symbol of America and American cultural imperialism. or more specifically ethnic particularism. economy. seemed like a paradox. The ethnic food boom in the 1970s was closely related to the movement of “ethnic revival”. independent businesses had a strong tendency to expand and to go “corporate” by setting up chains. As a form of rationalization. has had a homogenizing impact on American eating and life. and popular culture. Thus. in which ethnicity. standardization and mechanization endan- gered the diversity of American culinary culture. different ethnic cuisines presented their own versions of fast food in the market. it “asserts the progressive sway of rationalized structural constraints over agents. but also our landscape. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (Boston. In this way. Within the restaurant industry. McDonaldization is usually associated with Americanization and sometimes even deemed as a subset of Americanization. at first. influenced by McDonald’s mode. as an embodiment of American capitalism. the mode of Mc- Donald’s was contagious. “Assessing McDonaldization.industry has helped to transform not only the American diet.”252 The coming of the fast food era was signified by the rise of the McDonald’s Corporation in the 1960s. In addition. 2001). 253 Although there were other fast food chains long before the 1960s. The fast food industry also expanded its sphere of influence to reach ethnic food. Many enterprises adopted its business strategies and underwent “McDonaldization. The new forms of restaurants are featured by tasty and inexpensive food. 3. quick service and clean environments with numerous identical chains or franchised outlets sharing one brand name.

Ethnic food served as an alternative for people who disapproved of mainstream Anglo- American bourgeoisie food culture. However. they called for decentralized food production rather than a mono- lithic one dominated by conglomerates. “Ethnic Fast Foods. authenticity and rootedness. The Rise and Fall of the Ethnic Revival (Berlin: Mouton Publishers. Appetite for Change. They advocated cultural pluralism and gave increasing attention to ethnic cultures that often had connotations of tradition and authenticity. 8–9. 1985).” 3–4.. these people wanted to make their own choice about what they ate.and celebrated. 1981). America was engaged in many serious social issues: civil rights. Cultural rebels held an anti-authoritarian. although fed up with mass-produced. and gave them a chance to embrace culinary diversity. Western Europe and North America made great progress in integrating indigenous and/ or immigrant minorities into the mainstream sociocultural identities. Anthony D. 258 Ibid.258 Dining in ethnic restaurants offered American consumers a culinary adventure. rebellious attitude towards the establishment and mainstream culture.255 During the 1960s and 1970s. Smith. see Belasco. Pillsbury’s and General Foods. as characterized by rushed and rootless living conditions as well as human alienation. The Ethnic Revival (Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press. See Joshua A. the Vietnam War and environmental crises.256 And they resorted to countercuisine as a way to resist mainstream foodways and challenge the corporate culinary hegemony embodied by mass production.257 Repelled by processed food manufactured by large food corporations. eds. ethnic food provided American consumers with a mental cure for the ailments of modern society. 117 . processed food.. 256 Belasco. In this time period. Fishman. 257 On the rise and fall of countercuisine and its relationship to the countercul- tural movements. The consumption of ethnic food had a close association with the countercultural sentiments of the era. Under these circumstances. a countercultural movement gathered momentum. When it came to the culinary world. Often associated with tradition. They strongly rejected industrial food producers such as McDonald’s. etc. modern consumers seemed reluctant to relinquish the convenience and efficiency brought by modern food-processing technologies and couldn’t completely 255 The decade from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies is viewed as the era of modern “ethnic revival” or the “ethnic renaissance” as it witnessed an upsurge in ethnicity mainly in the West.

262 Ibid. they were still hesitant to try things absolutely everything new and strange.”261 What most Americans desired was something exciting yet not totally unfamiliar. 8. 118 . entrepreneurs began to adapt Chinese food to fit the fast food model and developed Chinese fast food. neophobia and cultural conservatism still played a part in the food choices of people. and they all wanted a piece of the action. the counter- cultural movement began to lose momentum and became less influential than it was in the 1960s. and variety.resist the temptation of fast food. in the 1980s. Donna Gabaccia said “Human eating habits originated in a paradoxical.” Ethnic fast food served the purpose quite well. something they could predict and feel safe with but was not too “mainstream. ethnic fast food restaurants were the perfect place for mainstream customers to savor exotic food that was laden with ethnic cultural meanings and at the same time enjoy the quick service and the comfortable dining environment. Seeing how profitable the fast food market was and the growing popu- larity of Chinese food.”262 Belasco’s words 259 Ibid. Belasco as- serted that the emergence of ethnic fast food was the “depressing evidence of corporate conglomeration and cultural homogenization” rather than “another step toward the pluralistic ideal of America in which all subcul- tures would enjoy equal access and mutual tolerance. In Ethnic Fast Foods: The Corporate Melting Pot. tension between a preference for the culinarily familiar and the equally human pursuit of pleasure in the forms of culinary novelty. creativity. Besides that. We Are What We Eat. 260 Peter Farb and George Armelagos assumed that neophobia might have played a role in the rapid expansion of fast food restaurants with their fixed and limited menus. Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. craftsmanship. Both Chinese and non-Chinese entrepreneurs joined the game.. Although people still “equated ethnic foods with health.”259 In addition. 1980). which manifested people’s desire for familiarity. 2–3. See Peter Farb and George Armelagos. and authenticity. With predictable dishes and uniform settings under each brand name. 191. 6.260 Although most Americans were tired of the culinary monotony created by giant food producers and quite open to eating different things.” they also “valued high-tech ap- pliance and time-saving services.. 261 Gabaccia. and perhaps universal.

3. See Mark Schoifet. The first Quik Wok was opened in southwest Texas in 1980. 264 Andrew’s cooking career started with making egg rolls in her home kitchen with the help of a cookbook. Numerous small Chinese take-out restaurants were the earliest produc- ers of Chinese fast food. Quik Wok was one of the first. 119 . a number of entrepreneurs joined in the game and a host of Chinese fast food restaurants were established. which made the operational control tough and the profit low. Chinese fast food chains were relatively underrepresented in the American market at the beginning.” said Andrews. 1983. Andrews’ first full-service restaurant that was opened before Quik Wok. so production costs were relatively high. chop suey. She later hired a Chinese cook as vice president to make up for her incapability of cooking Chinese food. Using the methods of reheating and stir-frying. had no previous experience cooking Chinese food. “sweet and sour pork”. they managed to get dishes prepared in minutes. they usually suffered a loss of their ethnic idiosyncrasies to a certain extent. such as egg roll.263 Since the beginning of the 1980s.” Nation’s Restaurant News.264 The menu was based on the luncheon buffet at Golden Wok. August 5.when ethnic foods adapted to the American fast food industry’s huge “corporate melting pot”.were true in a certain sense . Interestingly. but they were nothing like the “expresses” in the 1980s from the food to the dining environment. the founder of Quik Wok. “I had never cooked Chinese food on a Chinese stove until the first customer put in the first order. But the question is to what extent it sacrificed its ethnic heritage and to what extent it main- tained and preserved its ethnic traditions? Was there a distinction between Chinese-owned chains and those owned by non-Chinese businessmen or American conglomerates in the strategies of adapting Chinese food to the American fast food market? Compared to other ethnic fast food restaurants. Chinese fast food existed in America long before the emergence of Chinese fast food chains that were built on the McDonald’s model. Connie Andrews. Most of them were hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop restaurants or deli stores owned by Chinese. Andrews and Quik Wok: Genesis of a Fast Feeder. most of the earlier attempts at fabricating Chinese fast food were actually made by non-Chinese entrepreneurs. Andrews insisted on fresh ingredients. Most of the dishes on the menu were traditional Cantonese American fare. “‘McDonaldizing’ Chinese Cuisine. She also added drive-thru and take-out services 263 As a matter of fact.

Some items were actually just American dishes with Asian sauces.265 Ohio-based Charlie Chan was another predecessor of Chinese fast food chains. and then shipped to the point of sale. 1985. Petersburg Times. It Serves up ‘Chinese’ food fast. December 27. Local restaurants only needed to thaw. Nan- kin Express standardized Chinese cooking using a self-invented four-step process including the fresh vegetable component. such as Charlie Chan. was such an enterprise. Although most of these restaurants were small start-up chains serving a particular region. September 16. 267 “Fast-food Chinese Chains Join Mom-and-Pop Establishments. http://news. some of them had an ambitious business agenda: they wanted to replicate McDon- ald’s success and turn themselves into a national chain. which filed for protection from creditors 265 “Quik Wok. said that 80 percent of all Chinese recipes could be adapted to this process. January 27. Very few of them succeed in expanding nationwide. Within four years. Nutrition.2772891. such as deep-fried shrimp egg roll. In order to grow into a national brand. Nankin Express. Albert C. accessed May 13.266 Charlie Chan seemed to be doing pretty well at the beginning and expanded to a 43-outlet chain.” Restaurant Business. and the spice and the sauce components. accessed May 13. 1980. Nankin Express grew into a six-outlet chain operating with total annual sales of more than $1 million.” St. F9. 1985. deep-fried chicken and fish and fried rice. 194. the chain served highly Americanized.267 However. Craig Schow- alter. October 10. In Charlie http://news. 1985. AAAIBAJ&sjid=NVoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5563.5174496. Some start-up chains fell by the roadside. frozen.” 120 . the earliest attempts were not the most successful ones. Quik Wok grew to nine outlets and had more than $4 million in sales.” Nation’s Restaurant News. It had an aspiration to go nationwide. old-fashioned Chinese dishes. the first problem the chain had to address was how to streamline cooking procedures. Owned by Rudy and Jane Krie- bel.” Lawrence Journal-World. 2013. “Chinese Fast Food Sets her chains. the cut meat component. Its food technician. 2013. headquartered in Minneapolis. “Chinese Fast Food Sets Pace. Low Calories Make Takeout a Growing Segment. By September 1985. food was prepared in a central kitchen elsewhere. Oriental chain Stirs Notoriety with New Parent. “Charlie Chan Restaurant Open. fry and mix the sauces. com/newspapers?nid=2199&dat=19850127&id=MjwyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ge UFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6643. 266 Emily Stehle.

269 Pillsbury purchased Quik Wok in 1985. local ethnic food enterprises and made them their targets of acquisition. 1988. See Belasco.” Restaurant Business.272 These conglomerates 268 The management of Charlie Chan claimed that the major problem of the company was quality control. Jane 17. 1988. 272 Jacque Kochak. March 1. Nutrition. Managerial problems aside. “Chinese Food Luring Chains.” Nation’s Restaurant News.under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.270 Nankin Express sold its franchising right for outlets east of the Mississippi to International Multifoods. overcooked rice and greasy egg rolls. food qual- ity was another issue that impeded the subsequent development of these chains. most of the other Chinese-owned restaurant chains were more enthusiastic about developing their full-service than fast food chains probably because of the lack of a systematic method in mass-producing Chinese dishes and ensuring the food quality and efficiency at the time. 177. 1. Ethnic food market underwent conglomeration in the 1980s. In the early 1980s. March 1. a four-unit chain in Minneapolis. See Jacque Kochak. Prudential-Bache analyst Michael Culp described the food served in a handful of publicly traded Oriental chains as “atrocious” fare consisting of “soggy. Ohio-based Mark Pi International was one such example. 177.” 11–2. 271 Mark Schoifet. 270 Lasher. General Mills Restaurant Group decided to sell its Leann Chin concept. See “Fast-food Chinese Chains Join Mom-and- Pop Establishments. They were less competitive compared with the conglomerates that were equipped with sophisticated distribution systems and adequate promotional budgets. Pillsbury closed nine of its Quik Wok units.” 269 Facing the obstacle of further expansion with their current brand products. “Ethnic Fast Foods.” Before the acquisition. The failure of these small fast food chains in going nationwide showed the disadvantage and vulnerability of individual start-up chains. 121 .268 Conglomerates through acquisition either purchase a few of them or they gave franchising rights to large food corporations. Leann Chin’s was among the earliest private Chinese-owned food chains that made a great effort in order to expand into the fast food business. General Mills announced the purchase of Leann Chin’s. “Oriental: Market Segment Report. food conglomerates turned their eyes to small.” Restaurant Business. Some time later. “Oriental: Market Segment Report. these fast food brands didn’t develop very well. Most of them didn’t do a good job at controlling food quality on a mass-marketed basis. Wide-open Segment Ripe for Expansion.”271 Even after acquisition. 1985. “Chinese Fast Food Sets Pace.

October 27. Based in South Pasadena. He said the Panda Inn origin provided a solid ground and tradition for the Mandarin and Szechwan 273 Belasco. he got into the restaurant business. it expanded into a 100-outlet chain. Ming-Tsai Cherng. he capitalized on the ethnic fast food boom. With this spirit. 2013.were not interested in developing new products within their Chinese units. Andrew came to the U. As a new immigrant entrepreneur. 122 . Ten years later. 1986. and ushered in a new age of Chinese fast food. 275 Panda Express Website.”273 Relying only on the innovation of market strategies rather than the crea- tion of new food products. such as food courts in shopping malls.275 The founder-CEO Andrew Cherng was born in Jiangsu Prov- ince. 1. “Quik Wok Tests Take-out and Delivery. Most of the outlets were located in areas with a quick passenger flow.551 restaurants across 45 states and also had international locations in Mexico and Korea. supermarkets. Its first outlet opened in 1983 and was located in the Glendale Galleria in Califor- nia. His first restaurant was full-service and called Panda Inn. Freestand- ing and drive-through units were also built. “Ethnic Fast Foods.274 conglomerate’s Chinese food units gradually fell into oblivion. 274 Pillsbury chose seven Quik Wok outlets to be the test stores for its take-out and home-delivery service. http://www. Panda Management Company President and COO Joseph Micatrotto believed that the dinner-house origin of Panda Management was a major advantage in the evolution of Panda Express. China.S. accessed Jane 19.pandaexpress. The most successful Chinese fast food chain in this period was Chinese- owned Panda Express. His father. in 1966 to attend university.” Nation’s Restaurant News. In 2011.” 14. was a master chef. university campuses and airports. After getting his bachelor’s degree from Baker University and master’s from the University of Missouri. Panda boasted 1. Panda Express was one of the few Chinese fast food chains that went national. See Martin Richard. “The enormous distribution and promotion powers of big corporations worked more to control competition than to encourage innovation. com/locations/#!/current-locations. California. he had great enthusiasm in introducing new regional cuisines like Mandarin and Szechuan and break- ing the chop suey monotony of that era.

“Micatrotto’s Dream: Panda Express in 50 States. 278 Ibid. 47–49. Asian Interest Vertical File: Asian Americans in Business. 123 . during which “Red China” was perceived as a major enemy of America and an important force of the monolithic Communist World.278 First of all. “Fast-Food. The black and white panda contrasts with a red background with the text “PANDA EXPRESS” and “GOURMET CHINESE FOOD. he offered ‘gourmet-style’ Chinese food that would retain its flavor on the steaming trays. in Panda Express. Panda Express was among the first that brought Mandarin and Szechuan food into the realm of fast food restaurants. there is a chubby black and white lumbering panda bear. but also presented a whole new image of Chinese fast food restaurants to American customers. a cuisine with thousands years of history. to fast food. a concept which originated in and is often associated with the American industrial society.” The panda image was borrowed from Cherng’s full-service restaurant Panda Inn. the early 1980s was still the Cold War era. I would like to take a look at the logo of Panda Express and try to figure out the cultural messages it conveys to American consumers. The great success of Panda Express provided a role model for other Chinese fast food estab- lishments. the image of a panda serves the role of representing Chinese ethnic and Szechuan regional identity. 1994. First of all.” August 17. “Rather than homogenize his cuisine for less sophisticated palates. and instilled quality in its fast-food format.” Res- taurants & Institutions. San Francisco Public Library Chinatown Branch. a role it performs well. 82–83.”277 Cherng not only introduced more regional flavors. 1993. Although Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 and the normalization 276 Charles Bernstein. The reason why he settled on the panda is that the panda bear engendered much publicity in the wake of Nixon’s visit to China. Secondly. as one of the few animals exclusively associated with China. 20. 277 Steve Hirano. the issue left to be explored is the way in which he created the new image and how he adapted Chinese cuisine. especially after the Korean War. March 1.276 At that time. most Chinese fast food restaurants served Americanized Can- tonese dishes like egg roll and fried won ton. Cherng could be seen as a rebel and innovator for he presented a new type of Chinese fast food to Americans. In the logo’s center.

Consuming Passions. political and social prejudice would not vanish. it is helpful to draw upon the framework set by Peter Farb and George Armelagos in Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating on the four components that made up the so-called “cuisine. with a crawling panda in the center and the capitalized bold characters “PANDA EXPRESS” above. 190. and examine how Chinese cuisine changed in the American fast food setting. “the society’s traditional principle of flavoring staple foods”.279 Warren Belasco went further to summarize the four components as staple foods. “the manner of preparation”. culinary beliefs. innocent panda bear in order to build a friendly image of Chinese fast food restaurants. which might have an implication that Chinese food is served really fast here. Cherng tried to send American customers a message that gourmet-style Chinese food can be served quickly in a friendly and comfortable setting. So. flavor principles and setting in analyzing and generalizing ethnic “corporate cuisine.” They argue that a cuisine has fours aspects: “the very limited number of foods selected from what the environment offers”. as long as ideological difference existed. he went with a panda. eating habits.of Sino-U. To analyze the modifications and alterations Chinese food made in fast food restaurants.” the traditional Chinese totem usually used by Chinese people to represent their self-reliant and unyielding national spirit. preparation techniques. in the Cold War context. rituals. The lovely.S. In the eyes of Americans. tame. the logo seems to convey an ambitious message: we make the panda move as fast as an express. Cherng avoided using any image that would exhibit the powerful and tough side of China and Chi- nese culture. In order to relieve the hard feelings of Americans toward China.”280 I’d like to emphasize changes in these four compo- nents. 124 . the traditional Chinese cultural symbol with its menacing and intimidating connotations had to give way to the cute. setting and table manners. relations in 1979 eroded the image of China as an enemy and the American perception of China was gradually shifted from hostile to benevo- lent. “Ethnic Fast Foods. 280 Belasco. harmless animal is just the opposite side of the “Chinese dragon. Thirdly.” 15. Using the logo. I discuss the different eating habits and culinary practices between 279 Farb and Armelagos. China remained an authoritarian political regime that posed a threat to the American democracy. However.

fish and pork are the most common meat in China. especially animal products. This imparted American people the privilege of being selective in eating. the chief meat source in China. China has always been a “hungry” nation. Beef used to be rarely eaten in China. 284 Harvey Levenstein said beef enjoys a very important position in American eating. The Food of China. However. The situation in China is exactly the opposite. But the beef dishes in Panda Express are more like steaks cut into small chunks than traditional Chinese stir-fried beef. ordinary Chinese people highly cherish foodstuffs and seldom waste things that are edible. 4. it was not meat but vegetables and starchy staples that made up the bulk of the traditional Chinese diet. 16. lungs. 282 Ibid. was barely present.S. “Liver was considered a good thing in China long before people talked about vitamins…Kidney. while beef and mutton are not very common. which made lean meat the main component of the American diet. fast food restaurants like Panda Express. tripe. which used to be a luxury food in China. On account of the scarcity of meat 281 Chao. which is usually sliced paper-thin. that targeted mainstream diners. intestines. Chicken. Staple Foods: Known as the “land of plenty. are very good indeed.” America boasts an abundance of edible materials.284 where pork. As a country with a very large and ever increasing population and having been a vulnerable target for natural disasters throughout history. Revolution at the Table. See Harvey Levenstein. 283 Anderson. I’d like to start from the primary component of a cuisine: the staple foods. excluded these controversial foodstuffs from their menus. duck. 15..281 Entrails of animals are also an important part of Chinese eating. How to Cook and Eat in Chinese. In fact. Chicken. 125 . as the cultural backgrounds of the culinary adaptation.283 so it was one of the few meats that Chinese cooks were not so good at preparing. As a result. when rightly prepared. its preeminent status in the American diet put it in the rank of Panda’s entrees. beef and shrimp is the new triad on the menu of Panda Express.”282 Although some sit- down Chinese restaurants in America served entrails to satisfy Chinese con- sumers.China and the U. 145.

such as “orange chicken” and “broccoli beef”.”287 Taking this culinary difference between the two nations into consideration. noodle and steamed buns (mantou) are almost of equal status in China on the whole. Consuming Passions. It was usually the widely accepted Chinese dishes that were chosen and put on the menus of fast food restaurants. and far fewer regard meat as the focus of the meal and the other dishes as peripheral. Gregory Hall asserted in “The Psychology of Fast Food Happiness” that McDonald’s offered people a sanctuary in which 285 Wonona W. they provided customers with a sense of security and familiarity. shaped by Buddhism and Taoism.. 286 Stella Lau Fessler. American cuisine has tradition- ally been centered on meat. Fast food restaurants were not places for culinary adventure. 126 . America has a carnivorous tradition. Even though there were a small number of dishes that were invented in Panda Express. Chinese vegetarian cooking. while those in the south like rice. “Very few other societies in the world give such prominence to meat as North Americans do. starchy staples and vegetable dishes were put into the rank of “sides. and no “exotic” vegetables could be found in the two dishes. beans and grains provided most of the Chinese history.286 In contrast to China. 1. In analyzing the charm of McDonald’s. 198. 1970). It was because these items were already familiar to most Americans since they were served in older Cantonese restaurants. Chinese food needed to shift from its original structure to fit the meat-based American eating paradigm in order to be accepted by mainstream American customers. 1980). There were only two vegetable dishes on the menus. although rice. meat consumption per person was quite small except for among the rich. 287 Farb and Armelagos.” while almost all the entrees were meat-based. most of the entrees had been tested in other Chinese sit-down restaurants at least a decade earlier.285 Vegetables.288 the menus of Panda only included steamed and fried rice and chow mein. An Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking (New York: Crown Publishers Incorporation. et al. On the menus of Panda Express. Chinese Meatless Cooking (New York: New American Library. Instead. Meat was often used only as flavoring for dishes rather than the main ingredient. 288 There are regional differences. Generally speaking. also reinforced the importance of vegetables in Chinese cooking. As for starchy staples. people in the north part of China prefer noodles and steamed buns. 3–4.

Chinese people believe that to a large extent. People expected both culinary novelty and familiarity from ethnic fast food restaurants. and sores and heating food is used to treat pallor. While “yin” represents the dark. tonic and body- building function like ginger. K. Ohio: Bowling Green University Press. it gave customers a sense of familiarity by serving time-tested popular dishes.291 Taking either too much heating or cooling food into human body could cause disorder or sickness. fast and warm side. The traditional Chinese view of the universe heavily relies on the concept of yin and yang. 1983).289 The same mentality also applies to other fast food restaurants. it tried to present the variety of Chinese cuisine to American customers by incorporating Szechuan and Mandarin flavors. C. while on the other. Many natural dualities can be perceived using the yin and yang philosophy. There is actually also a “neutral” category referring to “balanced” foods like starchy staples. fast food restaurateurs had to make sure most of their dishes were already widely accepted and nothing on the menu seemed strange to their customers.they could escape the stress of modern life in a world that is full of rapid change and discontinuity. slow and cool aspect of the cosmos. see Anderson. 1977). weakness and diarrhea. rash. and food has a therapeutic effect on human body. 291 Cooling food is usually used to treat fever. That was exactly what Panda Express did. the cosmos can be divided into two aspects. Chang. The Food of China. like males and females. aggressive. “The Psychology of Fast Food Happiness. Influenced by the traditional Chinese philosophy of yin and yang. 289 Gregory Hall. Marshall Fishwick (Bowling Green. lobster and mutton. On the one hand. “yang” represents the bright. One of the charms of fast food restaurants was their predictability. such as life and death. 290 In Chinese philosophy. the yin and the yang. health depends on daily diet.” On Chinese traditional philosophies of food and health. Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives (New Haven: Yale University Press.290 Chinese people classified food as opposites – cooling food which generates cold energy in human body and has a chilling effect like tea. healthy eating has been attached with great im- portance in Chinese culture. The two seemingly opposite sides actually give rise to each other and complement one other. ed. 81.” in Ronald Revisited: The World of Ronald McDonald. In order to minimize risks. and heating food which has a strengthening. 187–98. 127 . Since ancient times. 9–11. passive. watermelon and cucumber. which are neither “cooling” nor “heating.

Paradox of Plenty. no.” Los Angeles Times. Preparation Techniques: Although most American fast food restaurants’ obsession with speed and consistency have made restaurant operators mechanize cooking processes and abandon the use of traditional cooking methods in their kitchens. 149.292 Counting calories became a trend. July 10. California Fast-food Res- taurants Are Getting Ready to Comply with a State Law that Takes Effect Jan. Panda Express launched its Wok Smart logo and menu.293 Chinese fast food restaurants adopted the approach of healthy eating used by Americans – counting calo- ries. The Wok Smart logo identified 18 dishes from the Panda menu that contained 250 calories or less per serving for the pur- pose of highlighting more healthy options. Panda Express has continued to use the traditional Chinese cooking method and vessel: stir-frying in a wok. Different from China.294 Being short of energy sources over a long time in history. ingredients and creating cooking methods to save fuel. Although food calories were rarely calculated in restaurants back in China. it was done in America. America was full of health-minded and calorie-conscious consumers. 4 (1980): 369–386. The traditional Chinese cooking is a cook- ing of scarcity. Quick service left little room for Chinese eating philosophies to survive. 128 . “The New England Kitchen and The Origins of Modern American Eating Hab- its. such as the amount of calories. Levenstein.” American Quarterly. see Harvey Levenstein.S. Several years before California passed the law that required restaurants to post calories on menus. The Food of China. Thanks to the movements on healthy eating. There was no time in the speed-oriented fast food industry to meditate on yin and yang philosophy or to distinguish the cooling from the heating food. “More Nutrition Data on the Menu. Chinese people made great efforts in maximizing the use of cooking utensils. 2009. a harmonious balance needs to be kept through consuming appropriate amounts of both. 2011. 32. proteins or vitamins in a dish. all of sudden. This made stir-frying 292 On the healthy eating movements in the U. 293 Jerry Hirsch. 1. 294 Anderson. in modern America the concerns about healthy eating are manifested directly by people’s fascination with nutrition data.

151.295 Capable of getting dishes ready over high heat in a very short amount of time.” 17. Fast Food Nation. and deep fat frying. First. 68–69. A wok is the indispensable utensil in stir-frying because the smooth curves of its sides allows flame and heated air to rise rapidly and evenly. most of work is still left to the restaurant staff. microwav- ing. they are held and displayed in a 295 Although boiling and steaming are also the basic techniques in Chinese cook- ing. fast food restaurants rely more on modern technologies and devices than on manual labor.298 Restaurant workers become “thawer-outers”299 rather than cooks. the methods used by other fast food restaurants such as reheating the precooked food are not applicable in Chinese restaurants. French fries and meats are frozen. stir-frying is a good way to save energy. Belasco mentions four cooking methods which are frequently used in American fast food restaurants: particulation. 298 Schlosser. 297 Belasco.. In Panda Express. which are the essence of Chinese eating. “Ethnic Fast Foods. A large part of the cooking including chopping and stir-frying is conducted in restaurant kitchens by manual labor.297 No particular skills are required from fast food workers.” 18. much work in the fast food industry is controlled and done by machines rather than humans. restaurants use stir-frying more often due to its advantage in time-saving. “Ethnic Fast of the most important cooking methods. 299 Belasco. With the application of assembly line system.296 Warren J. In many fast food restaurants. Since Chinese cooking requires fresh ingredients and immediate consumption. For instance. After the dishes are done. 129 . in mass-produced fast food kitchens the food suffers a loss of human touch and becomes dehumanized. and conveyer ovens or broilers are used to ensure the correct amount of cooking time. Generally speaking. A lot of manual work needs to be done in the cook- ing process to ensure good look and good taste. thawing. foods like burgers. Although modern technologies relieve restaurant work- ers from lots of drudgeries and heavy work. 296 Ibid. in McDonald’s manual labor only involves thawing foods in microwaves and putting them on grills. ingredients are cut into bite-size or smaller chunks to increase the surface-to-volume ratio in order to save cooking time. thus ensuring quick and consistent cooking.

Panda used stir-frying as its main cooking method. 2013. 130 . ethnicity and attractiveness to American customers. The use of stir-frying as cooking method and woks as cooking utensil in Panda were not only culinary strategies.” in Eating Culture.steam table to keep them warm and retain their fresh quality. but also cultural strategies. which was able to serve food quickly. otherwise. 301 bell hooks used the term “commodification of difference” to analyze the consumption of ethnicity among white American customers and the new form of white cultural domination in contemporary American society. There is a 300 “Annual Sales Revenue of Panda Express above 90 Million. “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance. the CEO of Panda Express.301 aspects of Chinese cooking traditions were retained in quick-service restaurants. 181–200. The charm of Chinese cooking lies in its variety and flexibility. some particular practices couldn’t be maintained. ed. the exploitation of the cultural features of their community in satisfying American customers by Chinese entrepreneurs could also be seen as a form of this concept.300 Chinese cooking can be quick or slow depending on the differ- ent strategies adopted by cooks. As one of the most important Chinese cooking methods. Although some traditional cooking methods were still used in Panda Express. 1998). http://huashangbao. Western cooking methods couldn’t be applied to cooking Chi- Chinese food would lose its charm and Americans would not dine at Panda Express. American customers expected cultural Otherness from ethnic restaurants. If Chinese fast food restaurants also relied on commonly- applied techniques like microwaving and deep-frying as McDonald’s did. Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz (Albany: State University of New York Press. See bell hooks. The experiences and actual practice of individual cooks are essential to the quality of a dish. Cherng. In my case. Woks were also used in the kitchens of Panda Express because with woks dishes could be made in a short amount of time over high heat. which is not only the most timesaving technique but also unique to China. It was its Chineseness that attracted American clientele. Chinese food would either be reduced to a few simple and mediocre dishes or lose its exoticism. Although it was an act of “commodification of cultural difference” for the consumption of mainstream consumers. said that traditional Chinese cooking techniques must be used.” accessed May 16. stir-frying was preserved in fast cooking kitchen to present the ethnicity of Panda Express.php?mod=view&aid=766.

there is a lot of space for the cook to display his/her cooking skills. he can add a dash of flavor here and a touch there. cooks were deprived of their spontaneity and creativity. However. Flavor: Catering to American taste is the most distinct characteristic of Panda Ex- press. Standard Operating Procedures were observed in Panda’s kitchens. ingredient. Everything would fall into place as long as they followed the cooking protocols. 1990). or seasoning at the beginning. 303 Kenneth Lo. or towards the end. Having in mind the final goal he/she wants to achieve.Chinese saying: “A thousand cooks have a thousand ways of cooking. Targeting mainstream American consumers.”303 The entire cooking process is full of variables. the cook has everything at his/her disposal: “he can raise the heat here.html. and it is those variables rather than mechanized operations that endow Chinese cooking immense creativity and incomparable sophistication. the traditional cultural characteristics of Chinese cooking. middle. 9.” accessed August 21. 2013. which was against the rules of traditional Chinese cooking. http:// www. 131 .cn/Article/HTML/14521_2. 304 “The Secret of Panda Express’ Growth. from the selection of ingredients to the preparation of certain dishes. The emphasis on consistency and standardization turned cooks into mere workers rather than artisans. What they needed to do was just strictly follow the predesigned procedures. cooks were required to use premix sauces designed by a group of chefs instead of adding different seasonings in an impromptu way. Flexibility and subtlety. fast food kitchens have always valued standardization higher than individuali- zation. 20–21.ccas.”302 The success of a dish depends very much on the cook’s interpretation of a particular recipe and his or her creative improvisation. That was probably the reason why Panda Express hired so many non-Chinese people without previous experi- ence of cooking he can add a mighty injection of taste. During the process of cooking. were lost in industrialized American fast food kitchens. To ensure consistent quality of each dish. An Introduction to Chinese Dining Culture. Panda did everything 302 Zhao. and lower the heat there. The Encyclopedia of Chinese Cooking (New York: Bristol Books.304 In this way.

bitterness. “Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Con- sumption. Based on this principle. 132 . 306 Levenstein. the five flavors are closely related to human health.. ed. spiciness and saltiness. Americans inherited sweet tooth.307 Chinese cooking differs greatly from American as well as much of the world’s cooking because of its unique flavor principle. due to their British culinary heritage. “Chinese food is 305 Roland Barthes. A healthy body requires a balanced intake of all five. 5. Like E. please their palates. sourness.000 years in traditional Chinese medicine as a method of diagnosis and treatment. The sugar consumed by inhabit- ants of the United States is almost twice as much as in France and it perme- ates a considerable part of American cooking. which are considered the basic elements of the material world. This theory has been used for more than 2. 23. The five flavors coordinate with. Although America never had just one cuisine but instead many regional and ethnic cuisines. and this helps the dish achieve a harmonious and ideal state. These five elements are believed to be interdependent and restrain one other. an overwhelming heaviness and greasiness also featured in the traditional American diet. earth. The essence of the Chinese flavor principle is to blend the five flavors in a har- monious proportion. American people had their own preferences in terms of flavor. American cui- sine relied more on sweetness than any other major cuisine in the world. constrain and integrate with one other in one dish during cooking. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory. Counihan and Esterik. In addition.306 There was another thing that Americans shared with their British ancestors in eating: a light hand with spice. Most noticeably. 6–7. American people were usually fond of fried foods. but also added sugar in many vegetables during cooking. For instance. N. metal and water. Revolution at the Table.305 Americans not only used sweet or sweet and sour condiments as accompaniments for meat.308 Chinese people believe there are five flavors that human taste buds can sense: sweetness.” in Food and Culture: A Reader. Chinese cooking heavily relies on flavor mixing. 307 Ibid. The Chinese flavor principle is based on the traditional Chinese philosophy: the Theory of Five Elements. As a result. The blending of flavors aims at stimulating the savory notes in ingredients while getting rid of unpleasant ones like fishy taste. 308 The Five Elements refer to wood. Anderson said in The Food of China.

They expected “convenience food” from these places. 156. many ingredients are first deep-fried. “Crispiness” is another important common feature of many dishes at Panda as it caters to the American preference for crispy food. Panda advertised that one of its specialties is Szechuan-style cuisine. but also what Americans expected from Chinese res- taurants. Chinese dishes with a strong or even pungent taste would naturally be repulsive. “Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Con- sumption. 309 Anderson. are often used in a single dish. American customers might go to full-service ethnic restaurants for culinary adventures. for this flavor was not only a favorite in America. He said that American people are obsessed with two categories of mouthfeel – sweet and crispy. McDonald’s set a good example in accommodat- ing its food taste to the majority of customers – it “created a low-profile food with a penchant for low-level if not nonexistent seasonings geared to the largest common denominator.311 To appeal to Americans. but they never wanted to encounter anything that would challenge or even offend their taste buds in fast food restaurants. Panda added a crispy-coating to many ingredients by deep-frying them in batter first. Roland Barthes once pointed out that Americans have a particu- lar love of crispiness. 311 Roland Barthes. but also implies agreeable and familiar. “Empires of Popular Culture: McDonald’s and Disney. referring to briskness and sharpness. He argued that “crispness” in food. The flavor of sweet and sour was maintained in most of the dishes on the regular menu at Panda Express as it was in the earlier Cantonese restaurants. 133 .309 The actual practice of the Chinese flavor principle needed to be adapted to the American cultural and culinary environment. so the rich flavors in Chinese cooking had to be streamlined in fast food establishments.” in Ronald Revisited: The World of Ronald McDonald. soothing character of sweet food. 108. especially strong-flavored ones. “Convenience” not only means quick to get. is used by Americans to oppose to the soft. Although stir-frying is the main cooking method at Panda.”310 In contrast to the popular but bland food at McDonald’s. King.” 26. Marshall Fishwick. ed. 310 Margaret J.typically flavored with a rather complex and subtle variety of things” and many seasonings. The Food of China.

varied seasonings and sauces. Simoons. So the adaption of Chinese cuisine to American taste is. soy sauce. Panda Express succumbed to Anglo-American preferences in terms of flavor. ginger. In spite of this. there is still one aspect of Panda cooking that is a far cry from traditional Chinese cooking beliefs and practices. An Introduction to Chinese Dining Culture. Thus. The taste of a dish depends very much on the cooking skills of chefs. variations in the taste of a dish were not permitted. 312 Frederick J. and to ensure the consistency of the flavor each dish was required to be prepared in exactly the same way no matter who cooked it. so Chinese chefs are usually free to exercise their individual talents in kitchens. it was thought that too many complicated flavors would confuse American fast food consumers and scare them off. 313 This is one of the traditional flavors in Szechuan dishes. There are several typical flavors such like fish-fragrant. cooking processes were standardized.” 314 See Zhao. Szechuan people use the combination of seasonings including chilies. instead of fish itself to create a “fish flavor.313 scorched chili-fragrant and sesame oil-flavored. In mass-marketed fast food kitchens.314 In other words. Interestingly. The taste of a dish usually varies from chef to chef. by streamlining the flavors in Chinese cooking. selecting seasonings agreeable to the American palate and maintaining a consistency. However. Chinese cook- ing encourages maximum flexibility and spontaneity. in accordance with Chinese cooking principles. food needs to be served in a uniform fashion. 134 . Tolerance of ambiguity and subtlety is part of the excitement and charm of Chinese cooking. etc. So the spiciness was toned down. While at Panda. 53. Ann Arbor: CRC Press). but also narrowed down the range of flavors on offer.312 Szechuan dishes are rich in flavor. the general Chinese cooking principle was upheld. Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry (Boca Raton. In short. and the subtlety and variety of Szechwan flavors were reduced to a slight touch of hotness. which allows cooks to adjust the taste of food to the eaters’ preferences. The quick-service setting not only limited the selection of ingredients. Flexibility is also a feature of Chinese cooking. how a dish is cooked depends on for whom it is cooked. in general. 21. great onions.Szechuan cuisine is known in China for its intensive use of pungent spices. although the original Chinese flavors greatly changed in Panda.

The design was to a large extent inspired by McDonald’s architecture. As Panda installed glass doors and windows as fast food restaurants customarily did.”315 without elaborate decorations and intricate carvings. There was no space for Chinese ethnic symbols like red lanterns. like other food court stalls. Thai or Vietnamese food stall. if it was not for the logo of a crawling panda bear. soda fountain and glass counter were no different from any other food court stalls. the Lego-like block shared more similarity with buildings in American car- toon movies. The rectangular building had a peculiar roof. adding an alluring effect. Panda Express. became a part of the homogene- ous whole in the American fast food scene. mysterious and unsanitary. Panda Express. Their overhead menu board. Built into the mall setting. which was like a patchwork. the stores only had a façade to showcase their pres- ence. the design was functionally effective. Chinese fast food restaurants set a new image and subverted this stereotype. vibrant colors and the sparkling steam tables in which fresh dishes (at least seemingly fresh) are displayed. Chinese quick-setting restaurants. Looking from afar. the setting of ethnic food counters usually lost their ethnic distinction. In food courts. you would never know whether it’s a Chinese. Panda Express was more eager to conform 315 Pailong is a traditional Chinese architectural gating style. It seemed that with this pragmatic modern design. The architecture of the street stores was carefully designed. Most of the earlier outlets of Panda were located in food courts. 135 . which placed more emphasis on high visibility than anything else. Panda added freestanding stores to its business agenda.Setting: Although the environment of American Chinese restaurants was often ste- reotyped as dark. with its bright lighting. high and low in picturesque disorder. The obtrusive shape of the building and its warm and playful colors aimed at catching people’s eyes and attracting travelers. Chinese scrolls and other ornamentations that usually existed in traditional American Chinese restaurants. it gave passers-by a clear view of its inside. is a model of modernized. Although the shape of the building distantly resembled the contour of the Chinese architecture “pailong. Although artistically insufficient. With its further development.

. 193. see Philip Lang- don.317 In accordance with this the vernacular architectural style of American chain restaurants than to distinguish itself by its ethnic features.316 Compared with the mall-based outlets. The only ornamentation that gave people a sense of Chineseness was the red paper lanterns hanging from ceilings. The food serving bar was similar to that in mall outlets.some showed a giant panda playing. which American customers only occasionally patronized. Different from sit-down ethnic restaurants. other showed Chinese cooks preparing food. but the dining area was much more spacious. There were also photos that illustrated the history of the corporation. Panda Express toned down certain aspects of Chineseness in the setting. the major task of chain restaurants – achieving a uniform level of performance . its potential for rich or subtle design. Panda Express was char- acterized by middle-of-the-road décor. 317 Langdon. Attempting to change the old image of Chinese restaurants. While many sit-down Chinese restaurants in the same period went all the way to showcase their ethnicity through decorations and ornamentations.” Journal of American Culture 2. 3 (1979): 519–33. “Ham- burger Stand: Industrialization and the American Fast Food Phenomenon. Knopf Inc. Anything that might show the mysterious and incomprehensible side of China was not to be found in Panda. 1986). which were usually perceived as dingy and inscrutable. Golden Arches. Panda placed great emphasis on cleanness and openness. Orange Roofs. the freestanding stores had more decoration in the interior. such as carved figurines. Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants (New York: Alfred A. Orange Roofs. In many of its newly opened freestanding stores. Bruce A. Panda used glass door refrigerators and open kitchens to make the cooking process visible to the public. and gave customers confidence in the cleanli- ness and freshness of their food. altars or other antique artifacts. emphasizing its entrepreneur spirit. 136 . This kind of open kitchen is rarely seen in other types of Chinese restaurants. no. However. Panda endeavored to make their food products a 316 On the “vernacular tradition” of American chain restaurants. The overall ambience was quite modern with the absence of ancient Chinese cultural symbols. The photos hanging on the wall were of different themes .

McDonaldization has influenced many sectors of American society. Panda made their setting fit into the paradigm of American fast food chains featured by modernism.part of the American regular diet as the food from McDonald’s.” See George Ritzer. George Ritzer asserted that these four aspects are the four dimen- sions of McDonaldization. but it was the business world that underwent the big- gest transformation. McDonaldization has had a homogenizing and consolidating effect on American enterprises. cleanness and predictability. In order to become the types of restaurants that Americans patronize on a regular basis. predictability and central control. The prefect embodiment of American capitalism. 137 .320 Panda limited its food choices. A close look at the adaptation of Chinese cooking to the quick-service setting in America makes people wonder what socioeconomic and cultural forces contributed to the change in cuisine. streamlined the cooking process. 9–11. CA: Pine Forge Press.318 Actually. xii. 1993). 320 Ibid.” He argued “McDonald’s and McDonaldization.319 The development of Panda Express was to a large extent based on the business model of McDonald’s. To maximize efficiency. 319 Ibid. but rather the culmination of a series of rationalization processes that had been occurring throughout the twentieth century. modern American capitalism had a great impact on the formation and expansion of Chinese fast food chains. First of all. and created an identical ambience in its different chain stores. The McDonaldization of Society: An Investigation into the Changing Character of Contemporary Social Life (Thousand Oaks. then. standardized the setting and food. By doing so. it provided the same predicable dining experience to customers exactly the 318 George Ritzer defined McDonaldization as “the process by which the princi- ples of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world. do not represent something new. Too exotic or seemingly mysterious elements had to be eliminated from the scenario to avoid evoking the negative images that were often associated with Chinese restaurants. standardization and ef- ficiency. calculability. A light touch of Chineseness was maintained. McDonaldiza- tion played a significant role in shaping the food and dining environment in Panda Express. Characterized by uniformity. as nevertheless the ethnic aura was still one of Panda’s important selling points..

48. as well as the strategy of raising money through incorpo- ration. Meyer Weinberg writes in A Short History of American Capitalism: “the modern business corporation is an original creation of the American imagination…Both American industriali- zation and capitalism were crucially dependent upon the corporate form of organization. “Corporate and bureaucratically managed enterprises. Besides food and setting.same way as McDonald’s did. Since the late 19th century. accessed July 7. Chinese fast food restaurants were integrated into the homogenized landscape of American fast food. ethnic enterprises were inevitably shaped by American capitalism. A Short History of American Capitalism (New History Press. and earn more profits than any other form of business”. bureaucratic management has characterized large businesses in America. Belasco and Scranton. and gave them more access to wealth-generating resources. along with their products. 5. 323 Rodney D. 2003). Panda Express went “corporate” and sought business expansion.” in Food Nations. They have employed mana- gerial personnel. 226–52. This enabled 321 Donna R. and put them in a vulnerable position. Peterson. they were often regarded as the global presence of American capitalism and a symbol of American economic imperialism.. The post-Civil Rights American society provided ethnic enterprises with a more favorable and open market. 324 Ibid. Political Economy and American Capitalism (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 322 Meyer Weinberg. In emulating Mc- Donald’s development mode. “As American as Budweiser and Pickles? Nation-Building in American Food 2014. and thus nurtured a large number of giant corporations. When these big American corporations made inroads in the international market in the form of multinationals. ed. http://www.”321 The corporate form of business is an incarna- tion of modern American capitalism. In this way. local businesses. 1991). 187. the business strategies and managerial culture of Panda Express also went through Americanization.323 The corpo- rate mechanism facilitated the concentration of capital and power. make more sales. 138 .324 Within America.”322 Being able to “control more assets. the corporate form of organization held a dominant position in American society. Eric Schlosser pointed out that fast food restaurants in every cor- ner of the world today seem to assume a symbolic role of American imperialism. Gabaccia.newhistory. The rise of large corpora- tions posed a threat to independent. increasingly defined what seemed modern and “American” in American business.

Although multiculturalism has permeated many aspects of American life and resulted in great culi- nary diversity since the mid-20th century. no.S. Unlike the traditional enterprises. finally adopted the corporate management style. The central office assumed the centralized power and gave directives from top to bottom. Dicker. management power and wealth were in the hands of family members. and the individual stores complied with the standard set by the corporate headquarter. a family-owned business. family-owned busi- ness.” Panda Express expanded successfully.325 the influence of British culinary heritage has persevered. The operation of the company was guided by American corporate culture. Panda Express adopted new business strategies. 326 On the impact that Anglo-conformity has had on the life of U. Subscribing to the corporate format. Although American culinary culture has always been a mix of various ethnic culinary traditions. ethnic enterprises entered into the mainstream market in an unprecedentedly ag- gressive way and transformed the landscape of ethnic business that was previously dominated by small businesses. Through going “corporate. 139 . In order to grow big and strong under the American capitalist system. Gabaccia. immigrants in contemporary American society. It employed professional managers from outside and gradually separated management from owner- ship. Panda Corporation. Food in Colonial And Federal America. Anglo-American conformity has promoted and still promotes American taste. Anglo-American culinary domination also played a significant role in shaping Chinese cuisine in fast food restaurants. “US Immigrants and the Dilemma of Anglo-conformity. We Are What We Eat.326 British American 325 See Oliver.ethnic enterprises to participate more actively in the mainstream American market and adopt the same business strategies used by the mainstream American business. with only a marginal number of small-chain restaurants. In these firms.” Social and Democracy 22. Most of the Chinese restaurants at that time were independent. Panda developed its own corporate culture by setting up a common value system and encouraged all staff to abide by it. 3 (2008): 52–74. It continued setting up new chain stores at a very fast pace and became ever stronger through expansion. which can be seen as a manifestation of Anglo-conformity in the culinary world. see Susan J.

In spite of Americanization. Although new foreign food items and cooking techniques were incorporated into the American culinary repertoire over time. modified the flavors of dishes and modeled the dining environment to the American quick-service restaurant setting. the role of ethnicity in influencing consumer decision was rediscovered. “The American Response to Italian Food”. after the Second World War. 329 Gabaccia. “Americans manifested a remarkable degree of resistance to the culinary influence of other cultures (beside British culture)” and the waves of immigrants from Europe and Africa barely left marks on the way Americans ate. During this time period. For this reason. ethnic entrepreneurship is not a prerequisite for the success of ethnic fast food restaurants.329 As cultural insiders. As one such restaurant. they were much better at commodifying their ethnicity. Gabaccia said in We Are What We Eat “Members of enclaves still 327 Levenstein. 328 Levenstein. We Are What We Eat. Donna R. Anglo-Saxon eating habits were thus ingrained in American food traditions. the preference of fried food. 208.and third-generation immigrants adopted Anglo-Saxon eating habits. “American tastes in food have remained resolutely Anglo-Saxon.327 Through the forces of cultural assimi- lation. the second. While ethnic entrepreneurs in the early 20th century usually uncoupled ethnicity from their products when they aimed at the mainstream market. 3–4. there would not be the success of Taco Bell. Revolution at the Table. ethnic food in the American commercial market had to conform to the Anglo-American palate.culinary conservatism prevailed in the colonial period and the several follow- ing decades. In order to gain mainstream acceptance. Moreover. 75. such as the predilection for sweet flavors. Panda Express selected dishes from the large repertoire of Chinese recipes. immigrants and ethnics were in a better position to make use of their cultures.”328 The WASP’s palate dominated American taste. restaurants owned and managed by immi- grant entrepreneurs distinguished themselves from others through the cultur- al capital possessed by immigrants. as well as the light hand with spices. ethnic food in fast food restaurants was usually modified and Anglo-Americanized. a big Mexican fast food chain founded by a non-Mexican entrepreneur in America. Otherwise. Of course. This was especially true of fast food restaurants because people usually expected food agreeable to their taste buds from quick-service setting. 140 .

no matter how “unauthentic” the dishes were to the Chinese community. Despite the forces of Americanization. Robin Ward and Richard Jenkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Panda Express preserved a few Chinese culinary practices in its establishments and even propagated their 330 Ibid.seem to understand and to target the tastes of multi-ethnic urban markets more effectively…”330 The ethnic background and cultural heritage of ethnic entrepreneurs were employed as a vital part of their stock-in-trade. Under this circumstance. 208. 141 . 1984). and the many fast food restaurants I mentioned earlier were all owned by non-Chinese. 332 Although Chinese sit-down restaurants have always been owned and man- aged by Chinese immigrants and ethnics. 331 Robin Palmer. The entry of Chinese immigrants into the fast food arena twisted the power relations in the Chinese fast food industry in which the majority of mass-produced Chinese food was previously manu- factured by non-Chinese enterprises. and these represented innovation and novelty to non-ethnic consumers although the entrepreneurs just transferred ethnic capital from their countries of origin to the host country. “The Rise of the Britialian Culture Entrepreneur. it seemed that Chinese immigrants and ethnics could much better represent the authenticity of their cuisine in a convincing and trustworthy way. Companies like La Choy and Chung King which occupied the canned Chinese food market. Their ethnicity endowed them with a great advantage of asserting authority on their own culinary culture. especially the “ethnic revival” in the 1960s. ethnic enterprises had a strong inclination to maintain their ethnic heritage and celebrate their ethnic cul- tures. 90. ed. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement. Taking the sophisticated and subtle nature of Chinese cooking into consideration.332 In the case of Panda Express. the image of its Chinese owners and Chinese chefs who frequently showed up on television or in newspaper advertisements reassured American customers of its authenticity.” in Ethnic Communities in Business.. ethnicity aroused a growing interest among Americans. The ethnicity of the restaurant owners and staff helped construct an “imagined authenticity” in the minds of consumers. Equipped with ethnic cultural endowments. the domain of mass-produced and fast food were dominated by non-Chinese entrepreneurs before the 1960s. ethnic restaurants tended to reevaluate their ethnic culture.331 This theory suits Chinese ethnic restaurants well.

they did propagate Chinese culinary art and culture. we can see American society was still exerting a homogenizing influence on the ethnic foodscapes by the force of capitalism and cultural assimilation. From ethnic fast food restaurants. Due to Anglo-American culinary conformity. Panda Express introduced more “genuine” Chinese dishes together with Chinese culinary culture to American customers through limited-time offers. the ethnic fast food scene showed an opposite tendency. such as the “Kung Pao Kick” and the “Flavors of Garlic. In order to get a glimpse of the shifting perceptions. ethnic fast food restaurants conformed to the paradigm of American fast food restaurants and were integrated in the homogenized American fast food scene. 3. the American reception of new types of Chinese food was also different from the previous era. it would be helpful to take a look at the general discourse of Chinese food in the American mass media. Although the American foodscape in the post-Civil Rights era was often perceived as ethnically diverse and culturally tolerant. manager’s specials and vari- ous promotional activities. and made Chinese cook- ing known to more Americans. Actu- ally. Before the turn of the 20th century. The largest national Chinese fast food chain Panda Express is a perfect example for this phenomenon . In spite of the great diversification and democratization in the American culinary world. Newspapers and magazines are good sources to start with.Chinese cooking at Panda was deprived of its artis- tic subtlety under the influence of industrialization and Americanization. Chinese food was modified to suit the Anglo-American palate. Although the dishes on its regular menu were highly adapted to American taste. the force of Americaniza- tion still exerted its influence on the contemporary American foodscape. Chinese fast food chains like Panda Express served as an entryway. leading Americans to the palace of Chinese cuisine and Chinese culinary culture. In order to gain acceptance from mainstream customers. Chinese food was not accepted by mainstream Americans and the Chinese community mainly consumed 142 .3  Chinese Food and Chineseness in the New Era Due to changes of Chinese American foodscapes.ethnic cultural knowledge to Americans. the American perceptions of Chinese food underwent constant change over time.” Although these activities might only be used as marketing strategies.

23. 334 Jung. Carroll. 19th Century U. 1991). DBIS Universitätsbibliothek der LMU München. wholesome and well cooked. Chinese food was no longer unfamiliar to them and more and more it was described favorably.”335 Then came the first turning point. So does bird’s nest chicken broth sound nicer than chicken soup. the image of Chinese food had slightly improved in America. Coffee Shops. filthy and unappetizing.” it continued to say. 19th Century U. 335 “Chinese Eat Wholesome Food. 1897.” Los Angeles Times.the food in restaurants. The American view of Chinese food changed at the turn of the 20th century. After acknowledging the Chinese diet is “sufficient in variety. Our favorite Chinese dish is foo young dan omelette…”336 With a small number of Chinese dishes (although some of them were American creations) having been embraced. Newspapers. A white reporter said: “Somehow water lily tea. 1924. are brought out.” The Daily Picayune. seems more delicious than tea served as just tea. 77. It is also a fact that they sometimes eat that which would appear to us as absolutely uneatable. and Other Establishments That Have Fed Us for 350 Years (New York: William Morrow. maybe gizzards.S.”333 A white observer expressed disgust in describing Chinese food in a restaurant: “Pale cakes with a waxen look. July 4. full of meats. They are sausages in disguise. Newspapers. A few aspects of Chinese cuisine aroused the interest of Americans. possibly livers. Mainstream newspapers usually portrayed Chinese food as barbaric. December 10. Then giblets of you-never-know-what. or tead loo hon tea. A report titled “Strange food of the Chinese” recounted in 1897 “the opinion that the Chinese will eat almost anything that is eatable is not altogether wrong. “doubtless many of the dishes found are extremely unpal- atable to Americans because of the quantity of nut oil used and by reason of the pungent flavor of the large amount of garlic introduced. Since Americans patronized Chinese restaurants much more. Sweet and Sour. 336 Raymond G. 1899. especially vegetables that first attracted 333 “Strange Food of the Chinese. 143 . quoted in John Mariani. America Eats Out: An Illustrated History of Restaurants.” Morning Oregonian. They highlighted the strangeness of Chinese food and deemed it totally unreliable. It was the “unusual” Chinese food items. Speakeasies.”334 Another newspaper article showed an ambivalent attitude towards Chinese food. Restaurants Are Many. Taverns.S. DBIS Universitätsbibliothek der LMU München. March 27. perhaps toes. “Chinese Laundries Gone.

341 Marian Manners. ‘More vegetables than meat and everything cut into small pieces.” Los Angeles Times. Colman. “The Makin’s of Chop Suey. Chinese cooking methods were also gradually accepted.” Los Angeles Times. soybean milk and soy sauce and also advocated their food values.attention of Americans.”341 Although Americans were beginning to eat and cook Chinese food. 1929. in response to the increasing demands for them. “Chinese Vegetables Becoming as American as American as Apple Pie. 337 F.”337 The article went on to introduce a number of “queer” vegetables such as water chestnuts.339 The vegetables that were once regarded as exotic became mainstream. “Vary Your Menus With Chinese Foods. a newspaper article said: “the dish is economical because it conforms to the ancient Chinese culinary rule. not Exotic Ingredients. December 13.” Los Angeles Times. According to an article titled “Chinese Vegetables Becoming as American as Apple Pie” in 1980. July 6. 339 Bill Sing. Another article attempted to recommend a variety of Chinese soybean products to readers including bean sprouts. 1956. March 29. As more Chinese food items became familiar to Americans. 340 Marian Manners.’”340 In another report. 1942. An article said in 1929 “Chinese vegetables are a bit queer. When introducing chop suey to Americans. The tendency of cultural appropriation could clearly be felt from assertions like “while their (Chinese) cooking techniques are different from ours. October 7. Chi- nese cuisine had yet to gain recognition and reverence from Americans. Newspapers often discussed the Chinese way of preparing and cooking dishes with admiration. Some observ- ers even touted Chinese vegetables as “the food of the 1980s” in America. but we seem to like them. 1980. 144 . bitter melons. the journalist admitted “The tasty Americanized combination of flavorful meat with crisp fresh vegetables prepared by the authentic Chinese cookery method is particularly pleasing to our western taste. December 15. 1946. an ever-growing variety of Chinese vegetables was available in American supermarkets.” Los Angeles Times.”338 Americans gradually incorpo- rated more Chinese food items into their own diet. 338 Betty Quail. “Chinese Food Can Be Used for Variety. “The Chinese Flavor: It Is a Matter of Cookery Technique. bam- boo shoots.” Los Angeles Times. bean curds. we can adopt some of their vegetables to our dietetic advantage.

from the discourse of Chinese food in American media. 344 “China Has Most Things Chinese But Chop Suey Isn’t to Be Found There. but they were exceptional. 1924. a reporter added.” Los Angeles Times. October 31.” 343 Marian Manners. In talking about Chinese food. 346 Betty Quail. 1947.”343 Secondly.First of all. That art is as old and difficult as calligraphy and as abstract and legendary as magic. according 342 Marian Manners.Chinese spices and seasonings were rarely talked about except for the flavor of sweet and sour. who having survived such a dinner.”345 The art of Chinese cooking still remained a mystery to most Americans as an article claimed “this is not to say that we should attempt to master their cooking. the manner of preparation.”346 Here I would like to again draw upon Peter Farb and George Armelagos’ definition of “cuisine” to analyze the process of how Chinese cuisine was accepted in America. including sea-slug soup and duck’s tongues. we can see Americans showed little interest in getting to know more about Chinese cuisine beyond several simple cooking methods and a few food items. appeared upright on the street the next day. As there are four components of a cuisine – food items. culinary etiquettes. culinary customs. an authority on China. May 25. The Chinese flavor principle was barely touched upon .” 145 . After listing a number of “unusual” dishes in a Chinese banquet. which was a long-time favorite of Americans. “Chinese Food Can Be Used for Variety.”344 The Chinese table manner seemed inscrutable to the reporter: “too often the sticks are used as shovels or rams to force inordinately large lumps of rice into voracious mouths. culture and tradition. In an article titled “Real Chinese Food is Delicious Food. In introducing Chinese dishes and recipes to Americans.” the Los Angeles Times reported an interview with Pearl Buck. the reports in newspapers often manifested an inclination of Americanizing Chinese food. “Vary Your Menus With Chinese Foods. flavor principles. Pearl Buck. “Helps Given to Prepare Chinese Dishes at Home. 345 Ibid.” Los Angeles Times. Chinese culinary culture still remained inscrutable to most Americans. Americans embraced Chinese food without giving due respect to Chinese table manners. “I have known a few Europeans. Besides that. customs and beliefs. newspapers always assured their readers that “these are adapt- able to American tastes”342 or “these dishes have been designed to please the American taste.

to the newspaper, only mentioned that Chinese food is interesting, and
discussed some aspects of Chinese foodways superficially. She didn’t men-
tion any cultural aspects.347
There was a huge shift in the American perceptions of Chinese food after
the 1960s. Chinese food was not only deemed as palatable, but also given
more credit for its cultural connotations. Americans began to pay attention
to the cultural meanings of Chinese food. First of all, Chinese table manners
and eating customs were discussed in American media. The Los Angeles
Times published a number of articles that showed readers how to properly
order and eat in Chinese restaurants with titles like “A Guide to Chinese Res-
taurant Table Manners”348 and “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese.”349
This showed that Americans were no longer satisfied with eating Chinese in
Western manner as most of them were used to but instead wanted to adapt
the Chinese way. Secondly, newspapers and magazines often talked about
Chinese customs and beliefs on food. The Chinese belief on the medicinal
effects and health properties of food, “the overriding idea about food in
China,”350 was often discussed. Harper’s Bazaar, a fashion magazine, de-
scribes to its readers “The Chinese were the first advocates of preventive
medicine… food is considered one of the best preventive medicines of all.”351
The idea of yin-yang and cold-hot equilibrium in eating, which was based on
the fundamental Chinese logic of balance, order and harmony, received lots
of attention from American media. San Francisco Chronicle noted in 1986,
“The opposite and complementary balancing aspects of yin and yang are as
important in food as in other areas of Chinese life.”352 An article in the Los

347 Grace Turner, “Real Chinese Food is Delicious Food,” Los Angeles Times,
January 12, 1941.
348 Bruce Cost, “A Guide to Chinese Restaurant Table Manners,” Los Angeles
Times, July 14, 1988.
349 Bruce Cost, “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese,” Los Angeles Times,
February 26, 1989.
350 K. C. Chang, introduction to Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and
Historical Perspective, ed. Chang, 9.
351 Dian Dincin Buchman, “Secrets of Health and Beauty,” Harper’s Bazaar, June
352 Black Green, “China Food: More Than Meets the Chopsticks,” San Francisco
Chronicle, January 31, 1986.


Angeles Times also tried to make its readers understand the Chinese belief
of cold-hot equilibrium by noting:
Foods are considered as ‘heating’ or ‘cooling’… Excess of ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ foods are
to be avoided, according to traditional Chinese cuisine. When serving fruit, for
example, the ‘heating’ mango will be accompanied by the ‘cooling’ papaya. Even
the basic diet of rice (neutral), meat (hot), vegetables (cold) and green tea (cold)
may be taken at the same meal to produce a balanced result.353

Newspapers also talked about the history of Chinese food. “Hundreds
of years before the birth of Christ, in the Zhou dynasty (1027–221 B.C.),
Chinese cuisine began to take form, based on guiding principles that exist
today: status, seasonality and nutrition,” one of such accounts stated.354
The way Americans approached Chinese food gradually shifted from
cultural appropriation to cultural appreciation.355 American mass media
gave more respect to Chinese cuisine and tried to understand more about
its cultural contents. California Living Magazine noticed the essence of
Chinese eating in 1973:
The joy of eating a fine Chinese meal lies in the blending of tastes, textures, colors,
and aromas all within one meal. The meals are a juxtaposition of opposites; large
foods opposite small ones, crispness against smoothness, cold dishes opposite hot
ones, sour opposite sweet.356

353 Roslyn B. Alfin-Slater and Derrick B. Jelliffe, “The High Art of Chinese Cuisine:
It’s a Philosophy as well as Gooding Eating,” Los Angeles Times, November
11, 1973.
354 Black Green, “China Food: More Than Meets the Chopsticks.”
355 I see no clear boundary between cultural appropriation and cultural apprecia-
tion. During cultural contacts between a majority group and a minority group,
cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation stand at the two opposite
ends of a continuum. It is an issue of degree rather than an issue of black and
white. Showing more curiosity and giving more respect to the deeper level of
another culture would be much closer to cultural appreciation. Although the
“culturalization” of Chinese food by the mass media was rooted in American
consumer culture and might not completely move away from cultural appro-
priation as someone might argue, based on the attention and respect these
representations gave to the cultural meanings of Chinese food, it did move
much closer to cultural appreciation.
356 Bernard Pechter, “The Chinese Banquet Experience,” California Living Maga-
zine, December 2, 1973.


Words like “art” or “artful” appeared very frequently in the narratives of
Chinese food in newspapers. Statements on the artistic nature of Chinese
cooking were abundant: “Chinese cuisine is an art that strives for balance
and harmony in life. It is complex and full of symbolism … he full range
of Chinese cuisine is somewhat similar to Chinese calligraphy.”357 Articles
were published with titles like “Uncovering Artful Chinese Cooking”358 or
“The Artful Ad-Lib Dexterity of the Chinese Cook.”359 An article that talked
about the “hand-pulling” technique in Chinese noodle making was named
“An Ancient Art Lives.”360
Moreover, “the flavors” in Chinese cuisine aroused the interest of Amer-
icans. Having been discussed in the previous part, Hunan and Szechuan
food gained popularity because of their rich and spicy flavors. The flavors
in Chinese cooking aroused the attention of Americans as represented by
American media. “Chinese food is sophisticated in its subtle flavor… Such
sharp seasonings as garlic and ginger are used in Chinese cookery, but not
to the extent that they mask basic food flavors,” stated one article.361 One
reviewer asserted that Mandarin and Szechuan dishes “actually surpass the
more well-known Chinese entrees because they usually have a heartier, more
full-bodied flavor than their Cantonese counterparts.”362 Newspapers also
introduced the Chinese flavor principle in cooking and eating to the public.
In showing readers how to order appropriately in a Szechwan restaurant, an
article relayed:
The kitchen does so good a job with Szechuan cooking that it is tempting to order
a meal that concentrates solely on these spicy-hot dishes. To do so would be a

357 Roslyn B. Alfin-Slater and Derrick B. Jelliffe, “The High Art of Chinese Cuisine:
It’s a Philosophy as well as Gooding Eating.”
358 Cecily Brownstone, “Uncovering Artful Chinese Cooking,” Los Angeles
Times, February 17, 1977.
359 Rose Dosti, “The Artful Ad-Lib Dexterity of the Chinese Cook,” Los Angeles
Times, September 18, 1980.
360 Bruce Cost, “An Ancient Art Lives,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 7, 1985.
Him Mark Lai Collection Carton 93, Folder 11, Ethnic Studies Library of US
361 Marian Manners, “A Guide to Chinese Cookery,” Los Angeles Times, June
5, 1966.
362 “Experience A Wonderful New World of Chinese Dining at Café Mandarin,”
Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1983.


mistake, though, because the Chinese sense of balance wisely demands that a meal
include as many different tastes and sensations as possible.363

Another article said “taste” is one of the most important aspects of all schools
of Chinese cooking which includes “salty, bland, sweet, sour, hot, fragrant
and ‘golden.’” It went on to interpret “when a large meal is planned, the
Chinese ideal of harmony dictates that the dishes not only represent the
various schools, but that they should be balanced so as to include the vari-
ous tastes. In this way, each dish throws the others into relief.”364 Not until
the latter half of the 20th century did the rich flavors in Chinese cuisine gain
public attention from Americans. Since then, the flavor principle in Chinese
cooking has been gradually known to American food enthusiasts.
Although the Chinese community wrote most of the Chinese cookbooks
published in America, the small number of them written by white American
writers could also be seen as a source that represented the white perception
and understanding of Chinese cuisine. Cookbooks tended to place more
emphasis on the introduction of Chinese culinary customs, conventions and
eating practices after the 1960s. While the earlier cookbooks written by
white writers or published by American food corporations often stressed
the high nutritional value, affordability and tastiness of Chinese food,365
and gave recipes for a few popular Chinese dishes (more often American-
ized recipes), new cookbooks included more cultural knowledge. Gloria
Bley Miller’s The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, published in 1968,
written by a Westerner for Western readers, covered nearly every aspect
of Chinese cuisine, from its history and traditions to the use of cooking
utensils. It also included a rich repertoire of Chinese recipes.366 In a cook-
book titled Naturally Chinese: Healthful Cooking from China, Ruth Spira,
a white woman, discussed many essential Chinese cooking principles like
that “… timing is crucial. The success of the creation depends upon a good

363 David Nelson, “Restaurants Explore Chinese Cuisine, Including Spicy Dishes,”
Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1985.
364 David Nelson, “Mandarin House: Good Food in Chinese Manner,” Los
Angeles Times, May 28, 1981.
365 Food companies like La Choy issued numerous cookery pamphlets to promote
their food products.
366 Lovegren, Fashionable Food, 104.


culinary history to foodstuffs. In the earlier 20th century. Two of the most famous are Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspective edited by K. for example. The Scrutable Feast – A Guide to Eating Authenti- cally in Chinese Restaurants (New York: Dodd. the image of Chinese food in America was highly distorted. which was published in 1977. 1974). Chinese table manners. As most of the journalists were white.371 To sum up.”368 She also expressed her admiration for Chinese cooking: “the Chinese made their cuisine into a true art form. and the latter con- ducted a systematic study on Chinese food system. 3. Americans naturally deemed Chinese food as filthy and unacceptable. 4. Anderson’s The Food of China which came out in 1988. and some aspects of the cuisine. containing many elements usually associ- ated with paining or architecture. Mead. 150 . 370 Dorothy Farris Lapidus. C. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press. Other forms of literature written by white Americans also showed interest in the cul- tural aspects of Chinese cuisine. with a delicate dish that depends only on the natural tastes of its ingredients.370 Academic books on Chinese food also appeared after 1965. 371 Anderson. 369 Ibid. seasoned with star anise and soy sauce. before the turn of the 20th century. N. covering aspects from natural environment. regional distinctions between different schools of cooking were highlighted..”369 Through her words. Naturally Chinese: Healthful Cooking from China (Em- maus. cooking strategies and traditional medical values of food. 10. 368 Ibid. Regarding Chinese as an inferior and barbaric race. Besides that. In Dorothy Farris Lapidus’s The Scrutable Feast. a deepening of the American understanding of Chinese food was manifested. dining etiquettes and cooking techniques were also discussed.. Chang and published in 1977 and E. Due to racial discrimination. the narratives of Chinese food in American media were flooded with negative comments. 1977).understanding of the ‘medium’ and its limitations”367 and “balance a highly flavored dish. The Food of China. such as food items and cooking 367 Ruth Rodale Spira. Chinese food no longer seemed strange. The former traced the long history of Chinese food culture over several thousand years. after a long presence in America. the American perception of Chinese food at that time was to a large extent shaped by the cultural prejudice of white Americans.

methods, were accepted by Americans. However, under the white cultural
domination, Chinese food in public settings was changed and shaped into
the way mainstream Americans expected. Under this circumstance, cultural
contact took the form of cultural appropriation. Chinese food was detached
from its cultural origin, deprived of its cultural significance and left only with
a touch of exoticism and Otherness for the white consumption. Chinese
food became what white Americans thought Chinese food should be. The
stereotype of Chinese food was perpetuated - American people often equated
Chinese cuisine with cheap and simple dishes before the 1960s. However,
after the 1960s, cultural appreciation dominated the discourse of Chinese
food. Chinese cooking was highly regarded and the cultural significance of
Chinese food was recognized in America. Americans began to show a strong
interest in the culture behind Chinese food. They were more willing to ob-
serve Chinese eating customs and table manners in Chinese restaurants, and
were more curious to know the culinary beliefs and traditions behind food.
Culture was given lots of weight in the general discourse of Chinese food in
the new era, although the people behind food were rarely mentioned.
Although the change in the general American attitude towards ethnic cul-
ture and the transformation of the nature of consumption also contributed
to an increase in attention to cultural aspects of Chinese food,372 I would
like to assert that the change of the American perception first of all signified
the further acceptance of Chinese cuisine by American mainstream society,
not only in terms of range but also depth. As was shown by the acceptance
of Chinese food in America over such a long time period, among the four
components of Chinese cuisine, the category of “food items” was accepted
first as new food items were quickly incorporated into the American diet.
“Cooking methods” was the second to be accepted as stir-frying became
familiar to Americans long before 1965. It took relatively longer for flavors
and culinary customs and beliefs to be noticed and recognized. The four
components of a cuisine can be seen as four layers - food items in the first

372 Simone Cinotto argued the nature of consumption changed in the latter half
of the 20th century. The value of commodities has been more and more in-
fluenced by the symbols and meanings projected onto them, which Cinotto
summarized as the “culturalization” of consumption. Cinotto, “Now That’s


layer, the manner of preparation in the second, followed by the flavor prin-
ciples and culinary etiquettes, customs and beliefs in the deepest layer. The
acceptance of a certain cuisine in a transnational context followed a certain
order. The deeper it goes, the harder it is for the outsiders to accept. Since
the representation of Chinese food in American newspapers and magazines
has reached the third and fourth layer of Chinese cuisine, I’d like to assert
the acceptance of Chinese food in America after 1965 was not only wider
but also deeper.
Mary Douglass asserts on the social meanings of food: “If food is to be
treated as a code, the message it encodes will be found in the pattern of
social relationships being expressed. The message is about different degrees
of hierarchy, inclusion and exclusion, boundaries and transactions across
boundaries.”373 If food encodes social relations, ethnic food first and foremost
encodes ethnic relations in a given society. In this vein, the greater acceptance
of an ethnic cuisine in a society would signify the further diminution of the
hierarchy between the ethnic group concerned and the dominant ethnic group
and a better integration of the ethnic community into society. However, does
the wider acceptance of Chinese food after the 1960s indicate a further inclu-
sion and recognition of the Chinese community by mainstream society? Is it
like what Susan Kalcik says that “by ingesting the foods of each new group,
we symbolize the acceptance of each group and its culture”?374
Food is a significant metaphor for and symbol of ethnicity. The foodways
of a particular group may symbolize the group and reflect the attitudes
towards that group from cultural Others.375 Chinese food can be seen as a
symbol of Chinese ethnicity. It is Chinese ethnicity in culinary form. Thus,
the general discourse on Chinese food can somehow reflect the change of
the American perception of Chinese ethnicity and things Chinese – the
so-called Chineseness. There has been a lot of scholarship on the concept
of Chineseness, especially by Chinese researchers.376 Since it is generally

373 Mary Douglas, “Deciphering a Meal,” in Food and Culture: A Reader, ed.
Counihan and Esterik, 36.
374 Kalcik, “Ethnic Foodways in America,” 61.
375 Ibid.
376 Most of the works try to (re)conceptualize Chineseness and explore what
the meaning of being a Chinese is and what constitutes Chineseness, such as
Wang Gungwu, The Chineseness of China (New York: Oxford University


considered a fluid notion,377 the perceptions of Chineseness by cultural
Others will certainly be subject to change. The expression of Chineseness
usually involves an external perspective. The perceptions of Chineseness
embody many dimensions. The most important dimensions include the
people, culture and society of China.378 The narratives in media showed that
food tended to be more closely associated with culture than other dimen-
sions. Most of the newspaper accounts on Chinese food paid great tribute
to Chinese ancient culture based on which Chinese culinary principles were
established, but paid little attention to the people behind the food. With the
exception of a very small number of reports on Chinese chefs and cook-
book writers, little concern was given to the Chinese people who prepared
and served food like ordinary restaurant cooks or waiters. In the chop
suey era, the representation of Chinese food often involved the descrip-
tions of Chinese restaurant staff and Chinese clientele. The humble, cheap

Press, 1991); Anbin Shi, A Comparative Approach to Redefining Chinese-
Ness in the Era of Globalization (Lewiston and Queenston: The Edwin Mellen
Press, 2003). Some of the studies explore how Chineseness is constructed in a
transnational context, see Chee Kiong Tong, Identity and Ethnic Relations in
Southeast Asia: Racializing Chineseness (London: Springer, 2010); E.K. Tan,
Rethinking Chineseness: Translational Sinophone Identities in the Nanyang
Literary World (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2013), and Andrea
Louie, Chinese Across Borders: Renegotiating Chinese Identities in China
and United States (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004).
377 There is an innate relationship between Chinese ethnicity and the coined term
Chineseness. Since the study of ethnicity shifted from primordial approaches
to situationalist approaches, Chineseness is considered a socially-constructed
category which is fluid and flexible.
378 In exploring the Sino-American mutual images among a group of selected
Chinese and Americans during the early 1990s, Jianwei Wang analyzed the
“structure” of mutual images and focused on portraying four important as-
pects: Chinese or Americans as a people; China or the United States as a
society; China or the United States as a cultural identity, and China and the
United States as a dyad in international relations. Since my concern is not as
much about “nation-state” as about “ethnicity”, I need to point out that the
category of “people” I am using here not only refers to the Chinese people
within the national border as Wang intended, but also includes Chinese dias-
poras and people of Chinese origin. See Jianwei Wang, Limited Adversaries:
Post-Cold War Sino-American Mutual Images (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2000), 34.


Chinese food was often associated with lower-class Chinese immigrants,
who were the main customers of Chinese restaurants. Different than from
before, Chinese food was more closely tied to culture than people after the
1960s. That explained why many Chinese, especially new immigrants, were
still struggling for cultural recognition from mainstream society in spite of
the wider acceptance of Chinese food. The same situation also applied to
Mexican food – although tacos, tortillas and burritos were consumed quite
frequently by Americans and were integrated into the American diet, Mexi-
can people were still in a lower social stratum, and generally stereotyped as
labor workers, service providers and even illegal immigrants. The status of
Chinese cuisine in America was also less and less relevant to the dimension
of “society.” Political turmoil, government behaviors and social upheavals
in China no longer had a strong impact on the image of Chinese food in
the U.S. For instance, the Tiananmen Incident, which seriously affected the
image of the PRC in America in a negative way, didn’t hinder Americans
from consuming Chinese food. In spite of the differences in values, ideol-
ogy and social systems between the two countries, Chinese food was still
popular in the United States. The acceptance of Chinese food became less
“political” and more culture-oriented. The acceptance of the cuisine was
less influenced by political upheavals in the home country, the governmental
behaviors of the national state on the international scene or the interna-
tional relations between the home country and host country. American
consumers tended to associate cuisine less with the political aspects of the
home country but instead pay more attention to the cultural context of the
food. In the new era, in which multiculturalism was advocated and cultural
tolerance was celebrated, minority cultures were admired and appreciated.
As a result, Americans perceived Chinese culture with more veneration
and less prejudice as it was reflected by the discourse of Chinese food in
American media. On the one hand, it can boldly be said that eating Chinese
food in contemporary American society can be seen as a manifestation of
the gradual acceptance of Chinese culture, especially traditional Chinese
culture, rather than Chinese people. In this vein, consuming the food of
another ethnic group symbolizes less the acceptance of the group of people
than the recognition of its culture. On the other hand, the several dimen-
sions of Chineseness aren’t always congruent with one another although
they may influence each another from time to time. Although China is still


or higher cuisine to use Jack Goody’s term. The new types of Chinese food and cooking aroused the interest and even admiration of Americans in Chinese culture. an important medium of com- munication. Culture is capable of transcending ideology. The new types of food symbolized a new version of Chineseness. “Ethnic Foodways in America. 380 Van den Berghe. Chinese culture is perceived admiringly by the American public. In the reception of Chinese food by American society after the 1960s. foodways can be “a channel for communication that is available when others may not be. brought by the middle and upper-class Chinese immigrants debunked the stereotype of Chinese food in the eyes of American people. and changed their view of Chineseness. culture can be more easily transmitted and understood. and social form and can even be detached from people. Culture can be evaluated independently in a transnational context. Food helped new immigrants construct their cultural identities. Chinese food and Chinese ethnic restaurants might also cause a change in the American perception of Chineseness. The American attitude towards Chinese food might influence their attitude towards Chinese culture. Chinese food opened a window through which Americans could see more “Chinese” things.” The refined cooking.S. As Susan Kalcik pointed out. political regimes. “Ethnic Cuisine.. Thanks to food. Pierre L.”380 Chinese restaurants and Chinese food provided American people with convenient access to Chinese culture. and eating across ethnic boundaries facilitates cross-cultural communication. 155 .” 393–94. the formula seemed to be “sophisticated cooking equals sophisticated civilization. Load- ed with cultural meanings. Chinese food is not only a symbol of and metaphor for Chinese ethnicity.”379 The food of a cultural group may serve as one accessible entry point for a certain culture. 379 Kalcik. but also an active agent which helps reshape the America perception of Chineseness.” 60.a communist country and considered a geopolitical menace to the U. van den Berghe asked “What more accessible and friendlier arena of interethnic contact could be devised than the ethnic restau- rant? What easier way to experience vicariously anther culture than to share its food. The new food the Chinese commu- nity presented to Americans in public settings influenced the way Americans perceived Chineseness.

For this reason. Under these circumstances. The cuisine of an ethnic group not only symbolized that group. 156 . As it was reflected by food. In this era. gastronomic and culinary matters after the 1960s also contributed to the further acceptance of Chinese food. The reception of a new ethnic cuisine in a metropolitan city in California is surely different from that in a small town in the hinterland of America. The bur- geoning interest of Americans in food. The new immigrants brought a global Chinese cuisine to the United States and consciously celebrated their ethnic culinary culture in the new cultural environment in which multiculturalism was advocated. but eager to learn about the culture embodied by the food. Ameri- can perceptions of ethnic cultures underwent a huge transformation. I would like to take a regional perspective and zoom in on the region that is the birthplace of Chinese American food. White cultural supremacy was no longer discernable in the reception of Chinese cuisine in the new era since Americans were no longer only interested in Americanizing Chinese food and drawing it out of its cultural context for their own consumption. although the racial hierarchy between the two peoples might still have existed. The hierarchy between the white and the Chinese ethnic culture was gradually diminishing. With the prevalence of cultural pluralism. The new immigration wave played an extremely important role in the metamorphosis of Chinese food. the transformation of Chinese American foodscapes featured diversification and homogenization at the same time. the American understanding of Chinese food and perception of Chinese culture underwent no small change. the form of cultural contact gradually shifted from cultural appropriation to cultural appreciation. Each region has distinctive food practices and unique culinary culture. American foodways and food culture are highly marked by regional differences. but also changed the mainstream attitude towards the culture of that group.

Dark-roasted. 157 . “Californians have always been adven- turous. As people of diverse ethnicities have congregated in California since the Gold Rush Times. 231–66. artichokes. myriad ethnic cuisines could be found here much earlier than elsewhere. Cold-pressed.Chapter 4. “California Nouvelle” in The United States of Arugula: The Sun-dried.383 381 Brenner. American Appetite.”381 California has been standing in the forefront of culinary change in America for a long time. California Cuisine (New York: Avon Books. willing to try new sensations. see Carmel Berman Reingold. Californians were feasting on guacamole. As food writer Leslie Brenner said. tacos. Michael McCarty and Jeremiah Towers.” see Leslie Brenner. while those in the Midwest were eating canned vegetables. 382 Marlena Spieler. The natural environment and local agriculture in California allow a cornucopia of fresh fruits. 134. Wolfgang Puck. Culinary Culture in Metropolitan California California stands out among other states for its unique foodscape and its sensitivity to food change. and David Kamp. “Even in the fifties. 1994). 1983). 383 On how these individual chefs contributed to the birth of “California Cui- sine. With the creative efforts of young ambitious chefs like Alice Waters. The Flavor of California: Fresh Vegetarian Cuisine from the Golden State (New York: HarperCollinsPulishers. The adventurous spirit of Californians in eat- ing can be seen from the fact that the taste for “white and light” drinks started in this state. especially in big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. vi. Besides Europeans. A cookbook writer wrote. 3. California developed its own culinary style. vegetables and seafood. 2006). the large Mexican and Asian populations also have exerted culinary influences on the way people eat in California. it is possible to take a culinary tour around the world without ever leav- ing California. and they readily embraced a new way of eating. 123–157. Extra Virgin Story of The American Food Revolution (New York: Broadway Books.”382 The birth of “California cuisine” is the best manifestation of the enthusiasm Californians have for food. Thanks to the availability of a great variety of ethnic restaurants. “The California Vision” in American Appetite. and chow mein.

the interest in Chinese food among Americans grew and people in California developed much more sophisticat- ed palates for Chinese food. Thanks to the increased number of Chinese restaurants and the improved quality of Chinese food. The earliest Chinese restaurants in Amer- ica were found in the city of San Francisco. California is not only leading recent food trends. They created a demand for Chinese food that is both “authentic” and high quality.384 So except for some deli shops and mom and pop restaurants. The foodscape in California is multifaceted and its culinary spirit is paradoxical. low calories and nutrition. Chinese restaurants have always served both Chinese and non-Chinese customers. On the one hand. just to name a few. at the banquets held by wealthy Chinese merchants. 158 . For instance. but is also the birth- place of Chinese American food. Panda Express and Taco Bell. as a state in which “California cuisine” and a series of food movements came into being. Californians attaches great importance to health. Carl’s Jr. the Chinese population was relatively small because of the decades-long Chinese Exclusion Act. among the new Chinese immigrants who came to California after 1965. California is also home to numer- ous national fast food chains such as McDonald’s. Large chop suey houses mainly catered to the preferences of European Americans. The two seemingly contradictory trends converge in the Golden State. there were a considerable number of wealthy people who possessed a discriminating palate and pronounced consuming capac- ity.” “light. Vegetarian eating and cooking is a long-lasting culinary fashion in California.” “fresh” and “wholesome” are highly appreciated in the Golden State. Some of them were even interested in searching 384 Although there were a small number of Chinese social elites and wealthy Chinese merchants.385 However. On the other hand. the majority of Chinese were in the lower social class. 385 There were also some special occasions. the consuming capacity of the Chinese community was relatively limited. words like “natural. In the culinary field. the Golden State nurtured the most complicated Chinese American foodscape. most of the diners were Chinese. Due to their low socioeconomic status.. In the first half of the 20th century. white Americans were the major customers of Chinese restau- rants. Boasting the longest Chinese American history and the largest Chinese American population.

Thanks to their growing affluence. This trend was clearly observed in the retail industry. They found that they could sell more products if they tailored their products to specific segments of consumers.”386 The business world noticed personalized needs and attempted to satisfy those needs by means of commodities. including race. food processors. 9. the clientele of Chinese restaurants in California are no longer homogenous. An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America (New York: Columbia University Press. how big the market is not only hinges upon the number of potential consumers but is also shaped by consumer culture. the most visible subgroup of consumers in the American market. 2000). If consumer culture changes.for “authentic” Chinese food around the state. Sameness in Diversity. ethnicity.”387 The food industry was inevitably influenced by the trend: “grocery stores. and res- taurant chains progressively moved to target smaller subsets of the buying public and used a broader range of products to do so. a new form of consumerism emerged. 191. income and education” when they discovered there was no “typical shoppers. There was a trend of market segmentation in the American market beginning in the 1970s. which was in dominance before the 1950s. the top concern of res- taurants is market. 388 Ibid. A number of restaurants targeting the Chinese community were opened and the foods they served bore more resemblance 386 Gary Gross. “Consumerism… became an expression of a profoundly fragmenting individualism that was fostered in part by the countercultural movement. However. No different from any other types of business. Probably inspired by the trend of market segmentation.. business strategies used by enterprises change accordingly. as well as the expressive individualism in this period. 387 Jayasanker. gained the most attention from the business world. So the business strategy shifted from mass marketing. American people were in search of a distinctive lifestyle. Lots of businesses targeted specific ethnic groups with ethnic products in the 1980s. 159 . As commercial settings. 9–10. Thus. restaurants must offer what consumers want to buy. Chinese ethnic restaurants repaid attention to their own ethnic community.”388 Ethnic groups. to segmented marketing. Influenced by countercultural and anti-con- formity sentiments. such as large supermarket chains which “tried to segment consumers based on various elements.

to their original forms in China. as well as non-Chinese food enthusiasts. the trend of market segmentation was quite visible. Restaurants targeting the “outsiders” usually adapted the food and dining environment to the preferences of these customers (although to a different extent compared to the chop suey era). Some of these restaurants had two menus: English and Chinese. 4. The restaurants serving the “insiders” usually opened in places where the Chinese population concentrated. 160 . but also exerted an influence on the reception of Chinese food and culinary culture among non-Chinese eaters.” I include Chinese immigrants.1  Serving Outsiders: Restaurants for Non-Chinese Although generally speaking.” who have developed a Chinese or semi-Chinese pal- ate. Some of the food items seemed challenging or even intimidating to mainstream American diners. the new generation restaurateurs had a bet- ter cultural awareness and were more eager to celebrate and spread their culinary culture. The term “outsiders” here refers to the non-Chinese cus- tomers who neither had a special interest in Chinese food nor thought much of it beyond simply eating the food. both of which have a large Chinese population and a fascinating Chinese American foodscape. I focus on two cosmopolitan cities.” but they usually used different kinds of food to attract different types of customers. I would like to call them restaurants for “insiders” and “outsiders. Chinese restaurants in California were split into two camps.”389 In the category of “insiders. Even within one restaurant. the so-called “foodies. or part of a Chinese palate. in serving non-Chinese customers. The interactions between Chinese restaurateurs and American customers were featured by cultural acculturation rather than cultural assimilation. these restaurants were usually found in suburbs as more and more Chinese ethnics moved to suburban areas. In this vein. The items on the two menus were also quite different. This situation is especially true in metropolitan areas. Chinese Americans who still have a Chinese palate. The needs and demands of customers are also affected by cultural factors. they still needed to ad- just their food to the preferences of customers. In the recent years. Gradually. Chinese restaurants not only accommodated the American cultural environment and commercial market. Los Angeles and San Francisco. the Chinese restaurateurs 389 There were surely a number of restaurants targeting both “insiders” and “outsiders.

If Chinese customers came. L.A. a restaurant em- ployee who has been working at Chinese Friend for over thirty years. pig ears.392 “We don’t serve fish head because Americans won’t accept it. duck feet and other animal organs. 391 Chinese Friend is a small restaurant located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. preparation. the founder of Plum Tree Inn in L. I even tried to give them to my American customers for free. but they didn’t eat them. In the commercial market.” Human eat- ing habits sometimes seemed hard to change.391 Felix Chang. as in the chop suey era. flavor and ways of serving. “We also removed the dishes that Americans don’t like from our menu. the owner and founder of Fu-Shing said. 161 .A which opened in 1980.” 390 “Controversial” food refers to the foods that were regarded as inedible in American culture. I would like to explore what cultural adaptation of Chinese cuisine was like in the new era. Not only the food.” Mr.” said Mark Ting.and American customers were involved in a cultural negotiation. cultural adaptation of ethnic commodities seemed nec- essary. Modifications and alterations were made in terms of ingredi- ent. sea cucumber and fish’s tail couldn’t be accepted by mainstream American customers. In contrast. Zhao. Firstly. “unconventional” and “controversial” food items were usually absent from menus. which might be out of the lack of eating materials throughout Chinese history and the Chinese belief in unity and wholeness of foodstuffs. 392 Fu-Shing is a Szechuan restaurant located in Pasadena. ethnic food needed to be adapted to the American palate in general and Californian taste in particular. but also the dining environment and décor were refashioned to appeal to American customers. “The food items like jellyfish. in America these food items are deemed inedible.1. they needed to ask for them.390 at least from English menus to avoid offending the palate of mainstream American diners. We serve fish filet instead.1 Chinese Cuisine and Californian Taste – Cultural Adaptations and Negotiations In the restaurants targeting mainstream customers in California. “We removed items like fish’s tail from our menu because our American customers never ordered them. Chinese people usually enjoy fish head. 4.

393 substitutes were used. 396 As I mentioned in Chapter 3. Due to the high cost of some ingredients.397 “Nearly all the dishes with a sweet and sour flavor are used to attract American customers. 394 Jeanne Voltz. 395 Lee. shellfish and chicken (with the exception of chicken wings) were usually served without bones or shells in most American Chinese restaurants.. 393 Cost is a major reason for the substitution of ingredients in Chinese restau- rants because in California the availability of Chinese ingredients doesn’t seem to be a problem due to the large population of Chinese immigrants. 162 . broccoli. Vegetables that are cheap and plentiful in America like mushrooms. In America.” opined Mr. the manager of Yang Chow and also the grandson of one of its founders. Now it has three chains. as an exception. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.” said Benny Yun. 1969.395 Thus. Hong Kong restaurant. In a competitive market. mostly particular Chinese vegetables like Chinese cabbage. which opened in 1977. Because of the availability of chicken and duck. not as spicy as they were before… we had to tone down a lot of dishes.A. fish. “the Chinese do wildly delectable things with these two rather basic foods. 76. Zhao. As many know that most Americans have a sweet tooth. 397 Yang Chow is one of the famous Chinese restaurants in L.”394 While cooking methods used by restaurants didn’t change much. Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley respectively. Carton 21. Yuk Ow Collection. “Californians Bow to Chinese Cookery. people don’t like the practice of chewing on something and then spitting out an inedible part. the ways to prepare ingredients changed slightly. More sugar was added in the dishes than the usual. Americans eat differently. So in China meat is sometimes served with bones and seafood often with shells. located in Chinatown. June 26. For instance. Ethnic Library of UC Berkeley.396 Modifications were also made in terms of seasoning. Folder 2.” Los Angeles Times. extremely pungent or spicy flavors were usually toned down. “The dishes here are a little bit sweeter. leeks and garlic shoots. still observed traditional Chinese practices. Chinese people usually see meat in its entirety or partial entirety. Although Americans began to embrace foods with zesty flavors since the 1970s. standard Chinese amount. green pepper and onion were used more often than in China. as summarized by Jennifer Lee. restaurants needed to reduce costs to maximize profits.

400 Personal interview with the owner of Twin Dragon restaurant. so we prepare food fast for them. 163 .” said Li Hua. Korean. I know which kind of food he/she wants.399 who has worked as a manager in several restaurants said. so we have to tailor our food to their tastes. we need to learn about the needs of our customers and serve them what they want. the manager of Ocean Star Restaurant. We made dishes according to their tastes. L. “In the business world.A.”400 The sequence of how food was served followed American custom. they held some essential culinary principles dear such as the blending and variations of flavors and textures. soup.” Since California is a state with a population of highly diverse ethnic backgrounds. the owner of Twin Dragon restaurant proudly said.” 398 Personal interview with Benny Yun.” Frank. Hispanic and Filipino. but when customers asked for it. in spite of the fact that soup is usually served after the main course in China. people are willing to spend three or four hours to eat one meal. In Hong Kong or Mainland China. Zhao told me. soup was made into wontons. “Our restaurant is in a Jewish community. Another change restaurants made was to speed up their service: “American people won’t wait very long. “When a custom- er comes into my restaurant. Despite the adaptations and compromises restaurants made to attract more business. Japanese. but in here people only spend one hour eating and then they leave. customers at Chinese restaurants are also of different racial or ethnic origins. 399 Ocean Star Restaurant is an upscale Cantonese-style restaurant in Monterey Park. It was these fundamental cooking principles that made Chinese cook- ing “Chinese. He also mentioned that they added new things and took things away from their menu.398 Restaurateurs and chefs accommodated their food to the individual tastes of customers. It was in the order of appetizer. shapes and colors in a single dish. Changes were often made by restaurateurs in response to customer re- quests.” Mr. Li Hua. Benny Yun said that the spicy Szechuan wonton was not served in a soup form at first. Customers from dif- ferent ethnic groups have different demands. “Mexican customers usually requested more spicy food and Filipinos liked seafood a lot. Caucasian. and main course.

April 6. the new inventions embodied the high culinary skills of expert chefs. a humble country dish in origin that had been considered the Chinese national dish for many years in America and fortune cookie. Ameri- can customers also changed the way they approached Chinese food. “Some dim sum made in America even taste better than those in China. Although many of the well-known dishes like “General Tsao’s chicken”. like the “slippery shrimp” from Yang Chow and “lobster ball” from Ocean Star. Since the 1960s. Californian local media noticed this inclination of Cali- fornians. “broccoli with beef” and “orange chicken” were said to be first invented in the East Coast. Some res- taurants in California also created their own specialties.” San Francisco Chronicle. not only did restaurants adapt and compromise.”402 The Los Angeles Times gave tips on how to order a good meal in a Chinese restaurant. California’s long growing season and large amount of agriculture products make fresh vegetables a key part of the local diet. 164 .” Los Angeles Times. Li Hua asserted. “Test Your Chinese Dining IQ. 403 Cost. “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese.”401 In order to get better food to satisfy their ever-evolving palates. the emergence of “invented traditions” was also witnessed in the new era. Asian Interest VF-Chinese Food.403 In restaurants. “Nowadays. San Francisco Chronicle clarified some American stereotypes of Chinese restaurants in an article titled “Test Your Chinese Dining IQ. Americans took the initiative in approaching Chinese food instead of waiting to be approached by it. American people understand Chinese food much better… they learn a lot and know a lot. California 401 Personal interview with Li Hua. 402 Bruce Cost. people from the two different cultures were getting to know each other and were communicating through food. a rustic fabrication. according to the restaurant operators. In the new era. which had never existed in China. San Francisco Public Library. 1988. February 26. Hong Kong style restaurants were particularly creative in constantly improvising new dishes. Res- taurant operators said more and more Americans were beginning to share dishes in Chinese restaurants as Chinese do. they also became the must- have items in Chinese restaurants throughout the Golden State. 1989. Like chop suey.” Unlike chop suey.

Vegetarian America: A History (Westport. the rise of vegetarianism was out of the concern that the overconsumption of meat would cause physical and moral problems for human beings. American vegetarianism was used as a means to reform social injustices such as the oppression of African Ameri- cans. 1969. June 2. who was also known as the Father of Vegetarianism in the United States.” Vegetarian Times. Chi- nese vegetarian restaurants came into being in California. 407 On the history of the vegetarian movement in the United States. An early 19th century Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham. no. Culture & Society 15. environment and economy. 405 Amy O’Connor. and the two seemingly similar styles of eating have very different cultural backgrounds. Tastes Like Meat.” Food.408 In its formative years through the 1860s. Vegetarian eat- ing was especially popular in Californian communes. Belasco described the situation back then: “in her tour of communal kitchens. including concerns about animal rights.409 At the end of the 19th century. “Looks Like Meat.406 People in the U.”404 The Vegetarian Times also claimed that “The bay area – San Francisco in particular – is the spiritual home of vegetarians. “Bay Watch: Vegetarian Travelers Can Enjoy Lots of Choices in San Francisco. Appetite for change.” Chinese Times. the first Chinese vegetarian restaurant opened in 1969. 410 Robyn Smith. women and the impoverished. 58. asserted that meat was a stimulant to the body and not the food for which man was designed to eat. 1997. 4 (December 2008): 420–48. Fowler believed vegetarianism was not only 404 Belasco.. 408 Ibid.has been leading the trend of vegetarian eating in America.S.407 Vegetarianism was actually rooted in Christian beliefs.” Food Culture & Society 11. In San Francisco.410 Advocates of vegetarianism such as H. 409 Adam D. and China practice vegetarian eating out of different reasons. no. 21–2. Vegetarian eating is practiced in the United States out of different motivations. September 1. 406 “Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant will open in San Francisco. “Exploring the Ethical Limitations and Potential of Aesthetic Experiences of Food and Eating in Vegetarian Cookbook. 2004). Shprintzen. that most of those were in California. see Karen Iacobbo and Michael Iacobbo. health. Connecticut: Praeger.”405 Under this context. P. Lucy Horton found that only half were vegetarian. Smells Like Meat. 1 (March 2012): 113–28. 165 .

H. the resurgence of vegetarianism in the 1960s and 1970s took on a different tone. Buddhism and Taoism have had a huge influence on the development of Chinese vegetarian eating. Last but not least. Taoism believed that meat is unclean and in order to purify one’s body. Vegetarian America. Vegetarian cooking was first practiced in Buddhist monasteries and then spread to private homes and restaurants. Chinese and American vegetarian cookery have something in common: both of them have “mock meat” or “imitation meat. 429.conducive to human ingestion and health.. In China. vegetarian eating was seen as counter to the mainstream.411 However. no.” 166 . Florence Lin’s Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook (New York: Hawthorn Books. “Looks Like Meat.” European Journal of American Culture 21. Kellogg’s experimental kitchen at the end of 19th century. low-fat diet was also an important factor that led Americans to vegetarian food. potato and soybeans to create dishes that not only look like but also taste like meat.412 As eating meat was the mainstream in carnivorous America. Vegetarianism in this period was associated with the political turmoil and social upheaval related to the anti-Vietnam War. meat should be shunned. people practice veg- etarian eating mainly for religious reasons. In America. Buddhism pervades people to steer clear from meat dishes in order to avoid killing. An article titled 411 Ibid. Shprintzen. 413 Florence Lin. the pursuit of a low-calorie. as the concerns of Americans about health kept increasing. 414 Liora Gvion. 3 (November 2002): 146–59. Hippies and cultural rebels expressed their countercultural feelings through the way they ate. In spite of ideological difference. vegetarian cooking gradually developed into its own style of cooking in China. Vegetarians also like to dress meatless dishes in the image of meat. The first “vegetable meat” came out in J. Inc. Chinese vegetar- ian restaurants were received with welcome in California. “Who’s afraid of cooking vegetables? Changing conceptions of American vegetarianism – 1850–1990. 412 Iacobbo. Believing the deprivation of any living creature’s life is a sin. xvi.” Chinese chefs are good at using non-meat ingredients such as flour.. but also a cure for intemperance.413 Thanks to the creativity of Chi- nese chefs. Civil Rights and environmental movements. as well as the sophisticated Chinese culinary culture. 1976). there are similar practices. Ecological and ethical concerns were also important mo- tivation.414 Regardless of the difference in the belief systems and mentality behind eating.

the owner of Long Life Vegi House. the restaurant “introduced to Los Angeles a distinct. Caucasian customers outnumbered Chinese diners in these restaurants. an elegant soup composed of purees of corn and spinach somehow poured separately into a bowl to make a Yin Yang design of interlocking green and yellow circles. highly developed Chinese subcuisine.415 According to the article. these res- taurants modified their dishes in response to requests of customers. Los Angeles Public Library. they nevertheless introduced 415 Eunice Lew and Van Ng Louie. William Chiang.416 These restaurants also introduced the art of Chinese vegetarian cooking to California. Shangri-La Café. a vegetarian restaurant in L.“for an elaborate banquet the kitchen carves vegetables into pagodas and phoenixes as centerpieces for an assortment of hors d’oeuvres swirling with clouds of dry ice” and “Next came tai chi. captured the attention of Gour- met. “Chinese Vegetarian Cooking Gains Popularity in Bay Area. Culinary Arts Collection. In Lotus Garden. 416 Ibid. 417 Caroline Bates. salt. 418 Ibid. another restaurant.” Gourmet. Carton 21. vegetarian foods were served in an “enchanting atmosphere that includes a cocktail bar with ‘Happy Hours. eggs. said if customers requested that their food be cooked with no oil. 167 . Asian American Studies Archives. “Fragrant Vegetable Restaurant.” February 17. the chefs would be sensitive to these special demands.“Chinese Vegetarian Cooking Gains Popularity in Bay Area” reported the growing trend of Chinese vegetarian restaurants. January 1985.. Ad- aptations were made by these restaurants to accommodate local preferences. Yuk Ow Collection. According to the magazine.”418 Through the individual dishes. a Chinese vegetarian restaurant. Folder 3. These restaurants also made their dining environments comfortable for local Californians. dairy products or MSG. rooted in Buddhist and ancient court traditions… ”417 Gourmet gave detailed descriptions of the dishes that were designed like artwork .’” Although Chinese vegetarian cooking was developed less out of health concerns than out of Buddhist mercy. Fragrant Vegetable. Chinese vegetarian cooking was presented to American customers as a visual art.A. In California people are particularly health-conscious and appreciate natural food. Although the number of Chinese vegetarian restaurants was not very big. 1982. advertised in its menu that all the ingredients are “natural earth-grown” and there was “nothing artificial” in them.

251. The restaurant’s famous creation “Chinois Chicken Salad” was flavored with Chinese seasonings. Chinese restaurants did not merely cater to the tastes and cultural pref- erences of locals.”419 The influence of Chinese cooking penetrated into mainstream restaurant cooking. Trader Vic.Chinese vegetarian cooking to the U. Following it. but also influenced the way they ate. and exerted a culinary influence on the Californian foodscape. By adapting their food to local food preferences.A.. The United States of Arugula. Puck himself even learned to make Chinese smoked duck in his restaurant. 252.”420 In the restaurant. initiated a trend of blending Polynesian flavor with Chinese cooking. The typical California palate is tuned to the subtle flavors and fragrances of Chinese-style cookery.” 420 Kamp.. It provided another option for Californian veg- etarians and added variety to local vegetarian eating.421 It was not the first time that Chinese food was fused with other ethnic flavors in restaurants. The two cuisines ranked quite differently in the hierarchy of American ethnic foods. it was the first time that Chinese cuisine was put on a par with French cook- ery in an American restaurant.” opened a Chinese-inspired restaurant in L. Puck. Due to the international predominance of French gastronomy in elite restaurants. Although the cultural implications of vegetarian eating were totally different in the two countries. 419 Jeanne Voltz. 421 Ibid. Chinese vegetarian restaurants made themselves attractive to non-Chinese vegetarians in California. many restaurants featuring Polynesian Chinese food emerged. a famous chef and one of the practitioners of “nouvelle cuisine. a renowned restaurant that located in Oakland. French cuisine was in a domi- nant position in American restaurant dining since the 19th century. the food was appreciated all the same. This was marked by the opening of Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois – one of the most popular and trendy Californian restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s. 168 . which was “based on his take on Chinese food. As early as 1938. “Californians Bow to Chinese Cookery.S. he created a style of Sino- French fusion cuisine by blending Chinese culinary elements with French cooking techniques. Chinese cookery exerted a cultural influence on mainstream cooking and eating in California as the Los Angeles Times claimed: “The Chinese have had a dynamic influ- ence on the gastronomic profile of California. However.

In contemporary Cali- fornia. The domain of fine dining was no longer French-dominated. Unlike the chop suey era in which Chinese restaurants unilaterally made comprises to cater to white customers. Eating in America.422 The huge influence of French cooking on American elite restaurants lasted until the mid-20th century. Although Americans ate Chinese food (usually Americanized versions).Americans were used to turning to French cookery for culinary standards. see Brenner. Tarcher Inc. Mexican. Root and Rochemont.. especially in the field of fine dining. Chinese food held a relatively low status and was regarded as cheap and unsophisticated. In the new era.423 In contrast. 423 It wasn’t until the 1980s that Alice Waters stopped printing her menus in French. The mixing of two cuisines of dif- ferent racial hierarchies into a single dish signified that American eating became less racialized in the new era. On how French cuisine lost its hold in American restaurants. 169 . the new period witnessed cultural negotiations and 422 Delmonico’s in New York initiated the trend of presenting menus in French in fine dining restaurants. Italian. American Appetite. 326. they didn’t pay much attention to Chinese cooking and Chinese culinary culture until the 1960s. The cookbook The Cuisine of California stated: “The cuisine of California borrows from French. such as the renowned Delmonico’s and Le Pavillon. 424 Diane Rossen Worthington. 1983). Most of the upscale restaurants in the earlier period featured French cuisine. The birth of “California cuisine” was also partially indebted to Chinese cooking. and Chi- nese cuisine. the boundaries between different ethnic cuisines became permeable. The practice of combining Chinese and French culinary elements in fine dining establishments and the subsequent trend of “fusion cuisine” signified that the racial hierarchy between ethnic cuisines was gradually diminishing in California. It drew on ingredients and cooking techniques from Chinese as well as other ethnic cookeries. as well as from the foods of Japan and the Middle East. They ate the food without giving too much thought to it. a trans-ethnic cuisine was taking form in California. cultural acculturation replaced cultural assimilation in America between the majority and minority ethnic groups.”424 Combining elements from various ethnic cookeries into one style of cooking. but consisted of many ethnic cuisines. The Cuisine of California (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. and their menus were usually written in French. in the eyes of Americans.

exchange between American customers and Chinese restaurant operators.
American customers and Chinese food approached each other in restau-
rants. As a result, Chinese cooking left its impression on Californian local
In spite of this, a depressing phenomenon emerged starting in the 1990s.
Menus in many of the Chinese restaurants targeting mainstream American
customers became standardized, and were again limited to a few number
of popular dishes like “kung pao chicken” (or shrimp), “moo shu pork”,
“beef with broccoli”. This indicated that despite the democratic cultural
environment in post-1965 California, ethnic cuisines still needed to undergo
rationalization in order to gain wider acceptance.
Homi Bhabha said in the Location of Culture:
What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond
narratives of originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those movements
or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences. These
“in-between” spaces provided the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood –
singular or communal – that initiate new signs of identity…425

Although the “space” Bhabha mentions mainly refers to an imaginary one,
it can also be applied to material entities. American Chinese restaurants, an
ethnic institution that was born out of cultural displacement, can be seen as
an “in-between” space in which cultural negotiation is going on. It neither
fully represent the original Chinese foodways nor is rooted in American
culture, but serves as an interstitial, liminal space, “in-between the designa-
tions of identity.”426 According to Bhabha, in such interstitial spaces, the sites
of disruption, intervention and innovation, the border between the home
and outside world becomes confused. Under this circumstance, new hybrid
identities are constructed: “this interstitial passage between fixed identifica-
tions opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference
without an assumed or imposed hierarchy.”427 In this vein, the hierarchy dis-
solved in cultural hybrids. Thus, Chinese American food is not a bastardized
version of Chinese food, but can be seen as a new cultural form. Stuart Hall

425 Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), 1.
426 Ibid., 4.
427 Ibid.


was one of the scholars who showed a strong interest in the construction
of identity. He made the assertion that cultural identity is a fluid concept:
Cultural identity… is a matter of “becoming” as well as “being.” It belongs to the
future as much as to the past. It is not something which always exists, transcending
place, time, history and culture. Cultural identities come from somewhere, have
histories. But, like everything which is historical, they undergo constant transfor-
mation. Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, they are subject
to the continuous “play” of history, culture and power.428

According to Hall’s theory, the identity of Chinese food is not fixed, but
instead constantly subject to change. In moments of rupture or disconti-
nuity, like in the case of cultural displacement, cultural identity is mostly
likely to be reconstructed. Through cultural adaptation, negotiation or
even reinvention, Chinese food acquired new dynamics in the transna-
tional context, and formed a new cultural identity in California. The old
cultural tradition (continuity) and new cultural environment (rupture) were
in dialogue together. “Difference, therefore, persists – in and alongside
continuity.”429 Chinese food in California retained its connection to the
past: Chinese culinary tradition. The formation of the new identity took
place in the moment of discontinuity: migration. I agree with David Y. H.
Wu when he argues that the development of Chinese cuisine overseas is
“not a result of the often-assumed global process of a direct flow of cultural
traditions from the center to the periphery… Chinese cuisines overseas dem-
onstrated re-creation, invention and representation of cooking, especially in
restaurants.”430 As the cultural center and periphery blurred, Chinese Cali-
fornian food, a cultural hybrid, came into being in an “in-between” space:
Chinese ethnic restaurants. Possessing an independent cultural identity, it
exerted an influence on mainstream eating and contributed to the birth of
“Californian cuisine.” Chinese food has become an important component
of the Californian culinary scene, and enriched the cultural life here.

428 Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” in Identity: Community, Cul-
ture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence & Wishart,
1990), 225.
429 Ibid., 227.
430 David Y. H. Wu, “Improvising Chinese Cuisine Overseas,” in The Globaliza-
tion of Chinese Food, ed. Wu and Cheung, 56.


4.1.2 Representing and Reconstructing a New Ethnicity through
Restaurant Décor
In a traditional sense, “ethnicity” refers to the shared features that char-
acterize the identification of an ethnic group - the quality of being ethnic.431
Unlike generic restaurants, ethnic restaurants sell “ethnicity” to customers.
Ethnic particularities distinguish ethnic restaurants from generic ones. In a
society in which multiculturalism is advocated, ethnicity is a desired object
of consumption in commercial settings. In the United States, since the 1960s,
thanks to the “ethnic revival” movement, ethnicity was reevaluated and
celebrated. People from various ethnic groups, including white ethnics, were
attempting to reclaim their cultural roots by means of consumption, which
created a niche for ethnic products in the market. Since then, ethnicity has
often been employed as a marketing tool.432 Ethnic businesses in particular
commodified ethnicity into their products and services to attract ethnic and
non-ethnic customers alike. They created an image of their ethnic group for
their customers, as they created images of their customers, as Lu and Fine
claimed.433 Rediscovering the value of ethnicity, entrepreneurs highlighted
their ethnic characteristics, utilized ethnic capital and displayed the cultural
distinctiveness of their ethnic group in order to attract customers.
To non-ethnic customers,434 when they patronized ethnic business, they
usually intended to seek an exotic experience, and wanted to experience the
cultural Other through consumption. This is especially true for customers
who patronized ethnic restaurants, in which the word “consumption”
takes its original meaning. Lucy Long said in her book Culinary Tourism
that eating “foreign” or “ethnic” food is also a form of tourist activity

431 Marcus Banks, Ethnicity: Anthropological Constructions (London: Rout-
ledge, 1996), 6.
432 Marilyn Halter, Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity (New York:
Random House, Inc., 2000).
433 Shun Lu and Gary Alan Fine, “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity:
Chinese Food as a Social Accomplishment,” The Sociological Quarterly 36,
no. 3, 539.
434 Here by non-ethnic, I refer to the customers outside the particular ethnic group
from which the cuisine comes, instead of white people whose ethnicities often
remain invisible in American society.


and restaurants are one of the most important sites of culinary tourism.435
These customers share mentalities with tourists. They expected things to
be different and unusual from their usual dining experience. Dean Mac-
Cannell argued that “touristic consciousness is motivated by its desire for
authentic experiences.”436 According to MacCannell, tourists are in search
of authenticity out of the desire to construct totality in modern society
that is characterized by fragmentation and alienation. Thus, authenticity
becomes important in tourist sites. “The rhetoric of tourism is full of mani-
festations of the importance of the authenticity of the relationship between
tourists and what they see.”437 To meet the expectations of tourists, tourist
establishments usually set up “authentic” scenes to give tourists a feeling
that they are experiencing the “real thing.” Although the scene may be both
artificial and superficial, tourists may not always be aware of that. “Staged
authenticity” can be often observed in tourist settings.438 The definition of
authenticity has been controversial for a long time. Based on recent studies,
authenticity is generally considered a socially and culturally constructed
concept, instead of an objective criterion. Authenticity is a matter of de-
gree, and is negotiable. People conceive it from their own positions and
perspectives. “Authenticity also has a relational character. People define
authenticity in association with their own social experience.”439 Non-ethnic
customers usually expected an “authentic” ethnic experience from ethnic
restaurants, but the authenticity they are pursuing is based on their former
experience and imaginations of the “real thing,” which is very likely to be
different from the ethnics’ self-comprehension. Ethnic restaurateurs need
to meet the expectations of customers to attract them. They put on “staged
authenticity” in their establishments, which is based on their understand-
ings of the customers’ needs.

435 Long, Culinary Tourism.
436 Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: a New Theory of the Leisure Class (New York:
Schocken Books, 1976), 101.
437 Ibid., 14.
438 Ibid., 98–99.
439 Lu and Fine, “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity,” 543. On the con-
tingent nature of authenticity, also see Erik Cohen, “Authenticity and Com-
moditization in Tourism,” Annals of Tourism Research 15 (1988): 371–86.


In ethnic businesses, ethnic food businesses in particular, ethnicity is usu-
ally the main signifier in the presentation of authenticity. An “authentic”
ambience is often created through the representation of ethnicity in ethnic
restaurants. As ethnicity is often manifested by material cultural symbols,
besides food, the design and decoration of restaurants are the most expres-
sive aspects of ethnicity, which are often used to create an exotic atmos-
phere. To construct the image of a cultural Other, restaurateurs have the
decoration of their restaurants gone through ethnicization and try to make
them performative for the consumption of customers. In commercial set-
tings, these acts are not a natural representation of ethnicity. Instead, they
are contrived. Ethnic distinctiveness is usually embodied by material objects
that symbolize a given ethnicity. In doing this, cultural symbols, the most
easily commodified objects, are often drawn upon. Through commodifica-
tion, ethnicity is externalized and represented by the design and decoration
of restaurants. In other words, the representation of ethnicity relies on a
set of symbols and signs. It is these external manifestations that represent
ethnicity. In this vein, “symbolic ethnicity” is practiced by ethnic restau-
rateurs by using the symbols of their culture.440 Ethnicity is represented in
ethnic restaurants in an artificial and contrived way.
Being no exception, Chinese restaurants in America also commodified
their ethnicity and presented Chineseness through design and decoration.
Since the chop suey era, Chinese restaurant operators have used artifacts and
other ornaments to create a sense of authenticity for customers. In the late
19th and early 20th century, American expansionism and colonialism were
in full swing. Orientalism dominated the American perception of the East.
Artifacts from the East like china, furniture and clothing could often be found
in American upper and middle-class homes. The domestic display of these
exotic objects signified the appropriation of Asian culture by Americans in

440 Herbert J. Gans is among the first who used this term. He said when the
third or fourth generation ethnics who no longer need either ethnic cultures
or organizations resort to the use of ethnic symbols to express their cultural
identity, ethnicity may be turning into symbolic ethnicity. See Herbert J. Gans,
“Symbolic Ethnicity: the Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures in America,”
Ethnic and Racial Studies 2, no. 1 (January 1979).


the middle of the American overseas expansion.441 In this era, Chinese restau-
rateurs often used symbols of ancient Chinese culture to fulfill Western fan-
tasies of Oriental exoticism. Red lanterns, wooden screens, altars and scrolls
were often used to construct an Oriental motif. These objects later became
the stereotypical symbols of China in the American popular culture. What
is worth noticing is that there was a temporal delay in the representation
of Chineseness in the earlier restaurants. In other words, a time lag existed
between the signifier and signified. The objects that represented Chineseness
tended to be stuck and frozen in a time zone of the unchanging past. The use
of old style furniture and ornaments was very common in Chinese restau-
rants. Far East in San Francisco was such an example: “black wood tables
and stools inlaid with marble or mother-of-pearl, hanging lantern, embroi-
dered pictures, etc., suggest the drawing room of an old Chinese house.”442
The cultural legacy of the feudal dynasties was very often drawn upon. Many
restaurants emphasized the feudal and imperial image of China through
their decor. Some restaurateurs decorated their restaurants like palaces. For
instance, Mandarin Café in San Francisco, opened in 1924, was a duplicate
of the “Forbidden Palace” – “the interior architecture evoked the image of
an ‘authentic’ Chinese palace with its elaborate coffered ceilings, impressive
wooden post and structure, and intricately detailed beam connections.”443
When representing Chinese ethnicity, the earlier restaurant operators didn’t
take new developments in their home country into consideration, but instead
looked back to the past. Although the process of modernization accelerated
after 1912 when the feudal dynasties ended and the Republic of China was
founded, the feudal image of China was often evoked by décor in American
Chinese restaurants. On the one hand, this revealed feelings of nostalgia
from Chinese immigrants, especially the first generation. Since the second
and third generations lacked a strong cultural tie with the old country, they
just drew on the ethnic heritage brought by their parents or grandparents to

441 Mari Yoshihara, White Women and American Orientalism (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2003).
442 Jung, Sweet and Sour, 28, quoted in David Te-Chao Cheng, Acculturation of
the Chinese in the United States: A Philadelphia Study (PhD diss., University
of Pennsylvania, 1945), 93.
443 Chao, “Communicating through Architecture,” 125.


the new country. Probably due to the decline of Chinese immigration from
1882 to 1943, the representation of Chineseness in restaurants was frozen in
the time period when the first generation left the old country. On the other
hand, the American perceptions of China influenced how the Chinese com-
munity presented their own culture. Stuart Hall said:
Not only, in Said’s ‘Orientalist’ sense, were we constructed as different and other
within the categories of knowledge of the West by those regimes. They had the power
to make us see and experience ourselves as ‘Other’. Every regime of representation
is a regime of power formed, as Foucault reminds us, by the fatal couplet, ‘power/
knowledge’. But this kind of knowledge is internal, not external. It is one thing to
position as a subject or set of peoples as the Other of a dominant discourse. It is
quite another thing to subject them to that ‘knowledge’, not only as a matter of
imposed will and domination, by the power of inner compulsion and subjective
con-formation to the norm.444

Owing to the racial hierarchy between the white and the Chinese com-
munity, Chinese had to accept the stereotypes imposed on them. In Ori-
ental thinking, the premodern, exotic and underdeveloped East was seen
as a cultural alternative to modern American society. As one of the oldest
countries in Asia, China was often imagined as a distant, mysterious and
aesthetically seductive land. Under the white cultural domination, Chinese
restaurateurs created ambience that conformed to American stereotypes
of China. A highly contrived oriental style decoration came into being, in
which the cultural past of China was represented. There were also some
restaurants where the décor was Americanized. Elements of Western deco-
rations were borrowed to make American feel customers comfortable. In
these restaurants, “aside from the spattering of stereotypical Chinese hues
and gold trim, few of the restaurant interiors were truly ‘oriental.’”445
Although there was a continuum in the decoration style of Chinese restau-
rants, changes were sensed after the 1960s. As Chinese restaurants were split
into two groups in California, the two types of restaurants exhibited different
traits. Whereas the restaurants mainly targeting Chinese customers usually
featured simple and modest decor, those serving outsiders were elaborately
decorated. It is widely agreed that most Chinese do not care too much about

444 Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” 255–56.
445 Chao, “Communicating through Architecture,” 132.


floor cacti taller than NBA centers and a collection of modern art that could rival some small museums.”448 New cultural symbols were adopted to represent Chinese ethnicity. an all-steel open kitchen. Nov 19. frivolous shade of pink. Jan 9.449 Ethnic distinctiveness was still embodied by the restaurant decoration. The representation of Chineseness began to reflect recent developments of the home country. 448 Max Jacobson. Chang. A transnational trend was detected in the décor of a few restaurants.” Los Angeles Times.” Los Angeles Times. For instance. In two restaurants that were both called Seafood Paradise in Orange County.the dining environment as long as the food is good.”447 The décor of a Newport Beach restaurant named Five Feet Too also seemed modern and unconventional – “the restaurant has a striking design – lots of jutting. “Chinese Dining Experience is Easy on the Eye. 447 Ibid. 449 “Chinese Seafood at its Best: A Double Pleasure. designer chairs. but in a different way than before. hanging lanterns and heavy crimson color scheme of other years. California.” Los Angeles Times. 1989. The full-service restau- rants anticipating non-Chinese customers manifested different characteristics in their décor compared to the earlier restaurants. Pocketbook. with geometrical accents of pale. expensive furniture and chandeliers were imported directly from Hong Kong. choosing instead a cool. and the 446 “Chang. flashy-fake gold. In some fancy Hong Kong restaurants. Offers Good Food and Fresh Décor. Instead of carved lions and dragons on the walls they have car- toony Chinese landscapes painted on backlighted glass. East County Chinese Eatery. New restaurateurs made innovations and no longer conformed to the old stereotypes. 177 . water tanks with live seafood were installed in restaurants. the decor were innovative: the color scheme is not the oppressive old Mandarin red and gold routine but a light. which was a popular practice in contemporary China. Less So on Palate. had a “contemporary” and “refreshing” décor which was quite different from the old establishments “that have adhered to the elaborate ‘palace-style’ décor…”446 “Chang has cast aside the dancing dragons. 1987. bandbox pink. angular cornices. Sep 22. an eat- ery in La Mesa. updated style that hints at the Orient but could easily suit any other type of Southern California shopping center restaurant. 1987.

subtle gray linens.”452 In a nutshell. mirrors and illuminated Chinese opera masks that stare impassively overhead.”451 French elements were used without disturbing the Chinese style. Szechuan or Yuppie.453 Ethnicization and gentrification characterized the change of restaurant décor in this period. French-designed black plastic chairs. In other restaurants. “Recent renovation. This kind of decoration could be observed in Chinese Expression. Plum Tree restaurant in Santa Monica was such an example: “The décor is clean-lined California- contemporary.restaurants were decorated in the same style. which would in turn affect the American perceptions of Chineseness.A.” Los Angeles Times. 1986.” Los Angeles Times. Chinese restaurants created a modern. July 31. has dressed up the room with smart-looking. a restaurant in L. “Let’s Eat Out: A Chinese Restaurant Grows Up. It is affected 450 Based on personal interviews with restaurants owners and managers. The change in restaurant decor showcased that a number of new res- taurateurs no longer conformed to established stereotypes but presented a new image of Chinese restaurants and represented a new Chinese ethnicity. 453 Chao. New cultural symbols were adopted and used for cultural representation. the foyer is paved in terra-cotta tiling. there is dark blond woodwork.” 162. Californian local decoration style was found in Chinese restaurants. 451 Barbara Hansen. representation came much closer to the reality and the signifier was contingent with the signified. Nov 23. Tonia Chao said. 178 . open. 452 Colman Andrews. The Chinese community no longer conformed to white expectations in representing their ethnicity. “Communicating through Architecture. but tended to present their culture in their own way.450 In this case. “new interpretations of Chinese restaurant décor” took place in this time period. in dark beige. the Chinese community gained more cultural space to present their culture. In the more favorable and tolerant cultural environment since the 1960s. a sign of new prosperity. 1984. gray. fashionable and cosmopolitan image for themselves. which was for the purpose of creating an easy and comfortable atmosphere for the local people. sky blue and plum. Sometimes. “Menu: Mandarin. Here I want to argue that the representation of ethnicity in com- mercial settings is a two-way process and often negotiable. Oriental style was mixed with Western ele- ments.

Ethnicity. The Chinese community repre- sented their ethnicity in a different manner in the new era. which are in turn reified by the group into internal cultural factors. However. 12. Like authenticity. in the trans- national context. ethnicity was recon- structed. Thus. ethnicity is also socially constructed. whose contents were different from before. ethnicity needs to be expressed externally. the contents or features of the identity of an ethnic group are affected by external factors. Through cultural representation.454 In this vein. and create décor that conformed to the stereotypes of China imposed by white Americans. The performance and representation of ethnicity in public settings can be seen as a symbol of ethnic relations. the Chinese community acquired more cultural confidence and agency for self-expression. the main features that characterize the identification of an ethnic group are contingent upon external factors. In order to make itself visible. during interethnic interactions. Thus. 179 . The new Chinese restau- rant décor after the 1960s helped represent a new Chinese ethnicity. décor in ethnic restaurants reflects changes of ethnicity. The change of the restaurant décor after the 1960s reflected the change of Chinese ethnicity. According to Barth. For ethnic relations in a society. when the social and cultural status of Chinese was lifted after the 1960s in America. As one of the external manifestations of ethnicity. argue that ethnicity is not absolute or stable and thus should not be exam- ined in isolation. the repre- sentation of Chinese ethnicity in earlier Chinese restaurants was to a large extent based on the Western perceptions of Chineseness. Although some scholars took a primordialist position and saw ethnicity as a perma- nent and essential condition. Owing to the highly unequal cultural rela- tions between Chinese restaurateurs and white American customers in the earlier period. many recent scholars such as Frederik Barth. Chinese restaurateurs attempted to redress the stereotypes of Chinese restaurants and changed the old decoration style on which the white cultural domination left an imprint. It can be manifested and represented by 454 Banks. the experience of a given ethnic group is always changing because of its constant interaction with the host society. ethnicity is subject to change. Chinese restaurateurs had to meet the expectations of white customers in representing their ethnicity.

They even brought new cultural symbols into the cultural representation. Chinese restaurateurs exerted their free will. The commercialized representation of ethnicity is different from that in other spheres. So cultural forms are reduced to the status of commodity and ethnicity is represented in a performative way. commercial settings arenas in which ethnicity can be reexamined and reconstructed. Ethnic groups reexamined their ethnicity. but is a process through which ethnicities are reproduced… Commodity culture does not inevitably result in the production of superficial. but also reconstructed and reproduced in and of itself. Nor does it inevitably involve the appropriation of ethnic forms constructed as “authentic” through being located as exterior to the opera- tions of commodity culture. operated as a form of power. representing ethnicity through cultural symbols such as artifacts. The ethnicity that ethnic entrepre- neurs represent in their businesses need to be commercially viable. Dwyer and Crang assert commodity culture can help fashion ethnicity. The interactions between the ethnic group and the host society gave rise to new cultural production. would in turn influence the way Americans perceived Chineseness. no. as well as how to represent it. Through the external manifestations.cultural symbols or overt cultural forms. Commercialism also affects the representation and reconstruction of eth- nicity in commercial settings. that is. ethnicity was not only represented. In exploring the relationship between commodity culture and ethnicity. and thus reproduced Chinese ethnic- ity. On the one hand. The presence of non- ethnic consumers raises the ethnic consciousness of ethnic entrepreneurs. and ethnicity is reproduced through the production of commodities for the market. “Fashioning Ethnicities: The Commercial Spaces of Multiculture. 180 . Rather… commodity culture can mobilize varied ways of thinking about cultural difference…455 455 Claire Dwyer and Philip Crang. On the other hand. The process of representing one’s ethnicity often involves self-reflection and self-expression.” Ethnicities 2. By practicing symbolic ethnicity. commodification thwarts the straightforward expression of ethnicity. Representation. Commodification is not something done to pre-existing ethnicities and ethnic subjects. like ethnic artifacts. 3 (2002): 410–30. They selected some aspects of their ethnicity they wanted to express while casting off those they didn’t want according to the given situation. thin and bland ethnic differentiations.

ethnicity is most often represented and reconstructed during cultural interactions between differ- ent ethnic groups in commercial settings. ethnic entrepreneurs play a role in (re)producing the cultural dif- ference. ethnicity won’t perish. and musical venues. In the vibrant and dynamic process of ethnicity representation and performance. reflect upon and reconstruct their cultural distinctiveness. “many of the transactions by which ethnicity is made ‘real’ are economically grounded: festivals. new cultural symbols are sometimes adopted or even fabricated for the pur- pose of cultural expression. clothing outlets. as long as ethnic boundaries remain intact. “Fashioning Ethnicities. Commercial settings are a space “within which creative work can be done on fashion- ing those imaginaries of cultural difference and ethnicity. and contribute to the reconstruction of their own ethnicity. The cul- tural messages sent by ethnic entrepreneurs to their non-ethnic customers through cultural representation might in turn affect their self-perception. Thus. However. ethnicity won’t die in the host country not only because of the 456 Lu and Fine. 457 Dwyer and Crang. art galleries. The symbols used by ethnics acquired new meanings during commodification.” 427. The fluid nature of ethnicity allows innovations in cultural representation. “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity. Lu and Fine said. The presence of an ethnic Other makes ethnicity a salient matter that awaits to be explored. invented traditions come in to being. restaurants. and contributed to the (re)construction of a non-essentialized identity.” 535. This reveals that ethnic qualities are not essentialized and fixed but in constant renovation and change. Com- modification of cultural difference sometimes leads to cultural production and gives birth to hybrid identities.”457 Although the non-first generation immigrants are losing direct or indirect ties with their old country.They believe that the process of commodification not simply enables the appropriation of ethnic cultural forms but also produces cultural differ- ence. Innovative adoption of new cultural symbols together with the meaning- making practices of these symbols renewed the contents of ethnicity. As the representatives of a collective cultural identity in commercial settings. 181 . They reexamine their ethnic heritage and culture.”456 In the contemporary society. Commercial set- tings are an important arena for the active performance of ethnicity. Cultural awareness arises among ethnic restaurateurs during their encounter with the ethnic Other.

The food was not quite different from that in China and it was without doubt satisfying to the Chinese palate.2. “Unusual” and “controversial” food items that seemed strange to American eaters appeared daringly in these restaurants. Since these restaurants mainly targeted Chinese customers. these restaurants were still attractive to and patronized by a number of American foodies and American Chinese food lovers. Since the late 1970s. the dining environment and food were quite different from restaurants targeting “outsiders. “The Joys of Wo Choy. The décor was usually simple and unpretentious.” San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle. resulting from the surge of the Chinese population in sub- urbs. 4. were embraced by some American foodies. 459 Based on the author’s personal interviews. but also owing to the preservation.” These “insiders’” restaurants aimed at making Chinese custom- ers feel at home. October 27. who had a strong interest in real Chinese food and wanted to taste what Chinese people eat. In spite of that. the food was rather challenging to the mainstream American palate and might even be intimidating and unacceptable to most American diners.2 Serving Insiders: Restaurants for the Chinese Community In the Chinese restaurants anticipating Chinese customers in California.1  Features and Cultural Functions One of the most distinct characteristics of this type of restaurants was their location. San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle reported in 1974 that non-Chinese diners be- gan to enjoy some peculiar Chinese food such as duck and constant inflow of new immigrants and the transnational cultural trend. these restaurants tended to congregate in suburban areas. 182 . presentation and reinvention of ethnic traditions in commercial settings. Sometimes.459 4. 1974. The decades following the 1960s witnessed a large flow of people 458 Ken Wong. squids and tripe.458 Restaurant operators also said dishes like pickled Chinese cabbage with plain boiled pork and fried leek dumplings. which were not even liked by quite a number of Chinese eaters. adaptions were rarely made and the food was seldom modified for non-Chinese.

465 Monterey Park. 183 .. Muller. Sep- tember 18. a big change in the distribution of the Chinese population was observed in the 1970s and 1980s. 1977.461 One ethnic group tended to concentrate in one particular area. “L. Thus. many new immigrants settled directly in suburbs without even experiencing life in the inner city. San Gabriel and elsewhere. 2. 461 Wei Li. “The Suburban Transformation of the Globalizing American city.and establishments into American suburbs. and formed a new ethnic com- munity in there.” Los Angeles Times.A. “ethnoburb” came into being. but also the new engine of economic growth in America. Such suburban clusters replicate some features of an ethnic enclave and some features of a suburb that lacks any specific minority identity.462 The Chinese. 462 Wei Li raised the concept of “ethnoburbs” by saying “ethnoburbs are mul- tiethnic communities in which one ethnic minority group has a significant concentration but does not necessarily constitute a majority. “suddenly. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1980. neither the 460 Peter O.000 Chinese residents – believed to be the largest single concen- tration of Chinese in Los Angeles County … No previous group. 73. 463 Ibid.463 In Los Angeles. Ethnoburb: the New Ethnic Community in Urban America (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. A large number of Chinese people moved from the old Chinatown downtown to the eastern suburbs. Ethnoburb. formed their own “ethnoburbs.’s Chinatown Turns from Tourists to the Chinese: Change Coming to Area under Urban Pressures.” see Wei Li. a city in the San Gabriel Valley. 464 Penelope McMillan.460 Non-white ethnic groups also joined in the suburbanization trend. Suburbs became not only new residential areas. it seemed Monterey Park had an estimated 10. Ethnoburb. 2009). South Pasadena. since the 1960s more and more Chinese Americans and immigrants began to move into suburban areas.” Owing to the rapid increase of the Chinese population and their growing affluence. “The Chinese have also moved heavily into Monterey Park.000 to 15. 41.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 551 (May 1997): 44–58.”464 The San Gabriel Valley became the new residential center for the Chinese. 465 Li. like other ethnic groups. Among them. experienced a phenomenal increase in the Chinese population. The up- wardly mobile America-born ethnics and the better-off immigrants moved to suburbs for better housing and nicer neighborhoods.

the tendency bore much resemblance to suburbanization. San Francisco Public Library. 471 Ibid. Fong. Although San Francisco doesn’t have official suburbs. “Influx in Monterey Park: ‘Whose Community Is This?’” Los Angeles Times.”470 This new community was different from the old Chinatown. 1994). It created a brand new image for the Chinese community. in the big. Asian Interest VF. 41 percent of the population in Monterey Park was Chinese.” Chinatown News. New Chinese communities were built in Richmond and Sunset Districts. “They (Chinese residents) would no more want to recreate the dingy. 469 McMillan. and Com- munity Transformation (Philadelphia: Temple University Press. a second Chinatown took form in Richmond District in the 1970s. moved in so suddenly.”468 In addition. 1975. The First Suburban Chinatown (Philadelphia: Temple Uni- versity Press. Monterey Park was also nicknamed “Chinese Beverly Hills.”466 The arrival of Chinese residents transformed Monterey Park from a predominantly white town to an immigrant suburb with a considerable number of foreign-born Chinese. this new Chinese community no longer evoked the image of ethnic ghettos as the old Chinatown did. Early since the 1950s. but what these thrifty and industrious settlers have built is a substantial Chinese community radiating from Clement Street in Richmond District.Chicanos nor the Japanese. 2009). tidy homes built shoulder to shoulder along the avenues…”471 466 Penelope McMillan. 467 Min Zhou. Ethnicity. 1980. 82. “San Francisco Gets A Second Chinatown.” 470 Keith Power. instead. 184 . “Purposefully they call it the New Chinatown. San Francisco-Richmond District.”469 For this reason.” San Francisco also saw semi-suburbanization of Chinese population in the latter half of the 20th century. “Influx in Monterey Park. In 2000. Contemporary Chinese America: Immigration. April 13. crowded conditions of the old ghetto… They live. According to the Chinatown News. and many of the new residents brought high professional skills and economic capital into the host country: “No group has come with so much money and ambition. Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants in San Fran- cisco gradually dispersed from Chinatown and other parts of the inner city to the outer rings. 468 Timothy P. January 18.467 It became the nation’s “first suburban Chinatown.

see Jayasanker. 475 Steve Harvey. Notable dishes like snake soup. These Chinese ethnoburbs were not just residential areas. which had never been previ- ously heard or seen in America. 473 Max Jacobson. January 29. no. 1989. San Gabriel. Among other businesses. Atlantic Boulevard and Garvey Avenue were lined with Chinese restaurants.”474 It was reported that in 1983 Monterey Park already had more than forty Chinese restaurants.” JAAS 12. 474 Max Jacobson. “Monterey Park’s Top Guide to Middle Kingdom. 476 Haiming Liu and Lianlian Lin discussed how genuine Chinese food followed the footprints of Chinese immigrants and moved from Chinatown to suburban areas in Los Angeles after 1965. 1986.475 In the San Gabriel Valley. Sameness in Diversity. Valley Boulevard was the most conspicuous dining destination: Most of 100 Chinese restaurants have crammed together on a two-mile “golden stretch” in the city of San Gabriel and a couple of blocks of Alhambra … Numerous Chinese restaurants border each other on both sides of the street. April 16. which made the San Gabriel Valley “home to a virtual Chinese restaurant dynasty. barbecued tripe. while many others are crowded inside a dozen strip malls on the boulevard. goose feet and a stew containing abalone. Valley Boulevard.472 In Los Angeles. “Food. And Transnational Culture: Chinese Restaurant Business in Southern California. made their debut in the San Gabriel Valley. South Pasadena and Rosemead in the 1980s. See Haiming Liu and Lianlian Lin. The concentra- tion of Chinese in these regions created a demand for ethnic products and service. 1983. conch and soft-shell turtle were served. “When Chinatown Just Isn’t Big Enough: Eating Asian in the San Gabriel Valley. the 472 Laresh Krishna Jayasanker noticed the suburbanization of authentic Chinese food in America. Chinese restaurants followed the Chinese community to suburbs. “Monterey Park’s Top Guide to Middle Kingdom. Food items that are exclusively pleasant to Chinese were found in restaurants here.” Los Angeles Times. 477 Jacobson. “Around the Southland: Singing the Blues Without Locust’s Song.” Los Angeles Times. Some genuine Chinese dishes. “a paradise for eaters.” 185 . October 26.”473 and then stretched to surrounding areas like Alhambra.” Los Angeles Times.476 These restaurants made every effort to cater to the Chinese palate and not American taste. Culinary Identity.477 Since these establishments mainly anticipated discriminating local Chinese residents. 2 (2009): 149. many new Chinese restaurants were at first established in Monterey Park.

Five Happiness Restaurant has Mandarin cuisine. as well. The Northeast specialty “sautéed pickled cabbage and vermicelli” was even served in some restaurants in Sunset District. showcasing both authentic. almost all the restaurants recommended were located in the San Gabriel Valley. hoisin sauce. San Francisco History Center. Smoked tea ducks sometimes hang in the window of Man Hing market. Find Chinese Food in Los Angeles: A Guide to Chinese Regional Cuisines (Manhattan Beach. the San Gabriel Valley is the Chinese Food Capital of North America…”478 Non-local customers had to drive all the way to the place in search of good Chinese food. In describing the change of Richmond District in the 1970s. these restaurants also became popular sites among non- Chinese eaters who wanted to get a bite of real Chinese food. 2003).and trendy example of Chinese regions cuisines… Without a doubt.” The decentralization of Chinese restaurants was also detected in San Francisco. pressed disks of tea. California: Crossbridge Publishing Company. all show up on the greengrocer sidewalks. Although they intended to serve the local Chinese population. soy vinegar. thousand year eggs. Newsclippings of Examiner. the old Chinatown still held the larg- est number of restaurants serving good and authentic Chinese food. “An active and spir- ited dynamism is constantly churning in this corner of the metropolitan area. “The New Mix in the Richmond. the street becomes more intensely Asian. from Hong Kong seafood and dim sum to Peking duck and wonton. 1979. which 478 Carl Chu.479 Sunset District also boasted quite a number of Chinese restaurants as well as a variety of Chinese food. while a neighbor offers Shanghai and Szechuan. 186 . Although in San Francisco. New Peking has Peking food. In a restaurant guidebook Finding Chinese Food in Los Angeles. February 4. In this sense. San Francisco Public Library. the San Gabriel Valley could be called a “foodburb. The otherwise inconspicuous suburban area attracted non-local people from afar by its authentic Chinese food and thus became a famous destination among Chinese food lovers. vii. especially non-Cantonese restaurants.” San Francisco Ex- aminer. Cloud ear was usually of high quality. an article reported: Between Fourth and Fifth. 479 Margot Pattersen Doss. The old Chinatown was no longer the only place where real Chinese food could be found. many new restaurants popped up in Richmond and Sunset Districts. dried squid.

2002. these restaurants provided job opportunities for recent Chinese im- migrants as ethnic restaurateurs usually employed workers from their own ethnic community. see R. there were plenty of “authentic” Asian restaurants in suburban Los Angeles.” World Journal. On the one hand. Him Mark Lai Papers. Apple Jr. March 30.480 It was estimated that in 1990 there were forty-two Chinese restaurants in this district.was by no means a common dish in regions outside Northeast China. Ethnic Studies Library of UC Berkeley. 481 “Most of the Chinese Restaurant in Sunset District are small. The food became more diversified and the flavors were getting much closer to what one gets in one’s hometown back in China.” New York Times. “An Asian Odyssey. 480 “Famous North Dishes Were Offered in Little Beijing Restaurant. 187 . in turn. Folder 4. Since there were also other ethnic restaurants that stayed true to the original tastes of their cuisines in suburban California. consolidated these Chinese ethnic communities. For in- stance. The cooking in these restaurants became more specialized.or medium-sized.” World Journal.482 Chinese restaurants just served as one example to demonstrate the diversity of the ethnic foodscapes in those areas. accounting for 10% of the total number of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco.481 Such regions became where people sought the most authentic Chinese food. 482 Besides Chinese restaurants. Him Mark Lai Papers. Seconds From the Freeway. January 31. April 17. attracted by restaurants and other ethnic institutions that could make their lives more convenient and com- fortable in the new country. more recent immigrants tended to congregate in these regions. In addition. 1992. many other Asian restaurants also served “au- thentic” ethnic foods to local residents in suburban neighborhoods. 1990. Food and food busi- ness. On the other hand. Carton 93. The inflow of Chinese residents brought more eco- nomic activities and business opportunities with them. Folder 4. Carton 93. which suggested a new development of Chinese food in America. W. a large economy developed around Chinese ethnic food in these suburban areas. There were a number of new restaurants that not only specialized in one specific style of regional cooking but also focused on making one or two specific genres of regional specialties. Restaurants attempted to use different regional special- ties to target people from different regions of China and satisfy their hunger for the foods of their hometowns.

. It is a kind of steamed dumpling. beef to vegetarian. The specialization of Chinese restaurants not only testified the prosperity of Chinese food and the finer classification of restaurants in California. from thin hair-like strands to broad. These restaurants serve as living rooms for the homesick. Food and food culture were transplanted from the homeland to the host country. they “represent amazing arenas of socialization where the boundaries between private and public spaces are blurred. 484 Chu. “Comida Sin Par. 188 . 485 Ferrero.”485 Geographical distance became less important and relevant in peoples’ minds in consuming and understanding 483 Baozi is a regional specialty of Tianjin. They offered various kinds of noodles and dump- lings. As new immigrants came from different regions of China. Taiwanese eateries also at- tracted attention. Like Sylvia Ferrero said about Mexican restaurants serving the Mexican community in L. but also manifested a transnational cultural trend. specialized in making Taiwanese snacks and served local Taiwanese in Alhambra. There are great archives of culinary memories. Find Chinese Food in Los Angeles. a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that opened in 1984. For instance.483 Noodle and Dumpling Houses could be found everywhere in the San Gabriel Valley.” 206. In Monterey Park. different types of regional food were served to satisfy dif- ferent tastes. Chinese food trends in the San Gabriel Valley closely followed the culinary trends in China.A new transnational culinary trend has never been more clearly observed in other types of restaurants than these establishments – many of the most popular food in China could be easily found in the areas where the new Chinese immigrants congregated.. For instance. it greatly expanded the eating choices of the Chi- nese community and satisfied the needs of those who missed specific foods from their hometowns. Lee’s Garden. knife-cut noodles. “Dumplings and Noodles houses have flourished in Los Angeles over the past decades… Noodle dishes run the gamut from soups to stir-fires. They can also feature all different sizes of noodles. On the one hand.A. there was a store that specialized in making Tianjin Baozi. The transnational culinary trend made the Chinese foodscape in metropolitan California more sophis- ticated. Mongolian hotpot restaurants and Islamic Chinese restaurants were quite popular here.”484 Restaurants that special- ized in particular kinds of regional specialties were not hard to find in the San Gabriel Valley.

A Los Angeles Times article said on the food at Lee’s Garden. Thanks to the increased movement of people and the democratization of the American cultural environment. which countered the force of cultural assimilation. people. Now it reemerged in these establishments. Restaurants for the “insiders” gave 486 Jacobson.” 189 . goods and culture are all transnational. Cultural confidence and culinary pride was strongly expressed in these establishments. Although Americans have already been familiar with a wide range of Chinese food.”486 It broadened the culinary horizons of non-Chinese eaters. These establishments kept Chinese food- ways intact in face of the homogenizing forces of American society. Since the main customers were Chinese. since real Chinese food became deterritorialized and assumed a global dimension. In recommending Noodle and Dumpling Houses. In the era of globalization. “What you will find are specialty dishes quite unlike any- thing we know of as generic Chinese. food and food culture in particular have become more mobile and dynamic than ever before. Chinese restaurateurs displayed real Chinese food in public with little adaptations.ethnic food.” These restaurants served the same function as a food exhibition or gallery does: they gave Americans a chance to see Chinese food and food culture in its original form. A cultural connection with the homeland was retained through food. These restaurants served as a cultural institution in which real ethnic food practices and food culture were preserved and the culinary tradition was fully respected. the food offered in these restaurants was no longer what they were accustomed to. Find Chinese Food in Los Angeles called them “an eye-opener for many in more ways than one. Owing to the cultural adaptation of Chinese food in America over a long time. these restaurants also exerted cultural influence on a number of non- Chinese American food lovers and foodies by showing them the “real thing” and broadened their culinary horizons. underrepresented but most particular aspects of Chinese cuisine and culinary culture in their home land. there was no need to modify dishes or hide “strange” foodstuffs. exoti- cism submerged in American Chinese restaurants. “When Chinatown Just Isn’t Big Enough. Besides that. it provided American diners a gateway to see the less-explored. One can get the same food in California that one always gets in his/her hometown. On the other side.

A food writer said that when he went all the way to a particular restaurant and ordered something unu- sual. American customers were in a disadvantaged position and had difficulty getting what they wanted.” He expressed his dissatisfaction: “The more I eat in Chinese restaurants. 1983. More importantly. 490 Fred Ferretti. the power relations between Chinese restaurateurs and American diners changed. In this new cultural context.”487 Some American eaters complained that Chinese restaurant staff always assumed that American taste was not that broad and thus avoided offering them particular food items like shells. “They (Chinese restaurants) tend to strut their best stuff for the local community. the more I find they conform to old stereotypes. Although Americans used to see Chinese food as unexciting and tame. April 21.” 488 Cost. I am always told that they are special foods. peculiar and distinctive aspects of their cuisine without worrying about the stigmatization associated with food as in the old days. the response from the restaurant staff was often “you don’t like that. 190 . “That leaves those of us who want more than the endless stir- fry permutations with bell pepper and onion with a fight on our hands. He said Chinese restaurant staff always steered him toward the cliché “Anglo” dishes: I always get a fork in Chinese restaurants…I am always asked if I want sweet-and- sour pork…When I ask if I can have some of the wonderful food that the Chinese family of 12 is eating at the next table.Chinese immigrants a chance to showcase the most bizarre. and gave American customers an opportunity to see and taste real Chinese food without leaving the American soil. and I wouldn’t like them anyway. When I ask what the wall posters mean.” 489 Ibid.”488 Some American customers felt frustrated and bored because they always got the same kinds of food in Chinese restaurants.” San Francisco Chronicle. “Monterey Park’s Top Guide To Middle Kingdom. In this vein. The L. leaving serious Western eaters to the heartbreak of pan-fried noodles.A. Times grumbled that it was hard to get good Chinese food if the customers were not Chinese. “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese. these restaurants changed the stereotypical perceptions.”489 A newspaper reporter held the same opinion. for special orders. innards and snails. “Why Is It Hard to Get Chopsticks.490 487 Jacobson. I am always told that I wouldn’t like it. these establishments witnessed an inversion in cultural relations.

”492 To a certain extent. In an article titled “Wo Choy: the Secret Meals of China- town. November 1973. so they kept it for the Chinese community. Chinese restaurant operators stereotyped the majority of American customers as the cultural and culinary “outsiders” who were unable to appreciate real Chinese food. Wo choy was provided for the benefits of Chinese customers. Yuk Ow Collection. the act of treating Chinese and American customers differentially can be seen as a form of resistance to the cultural oppression Chinese restaurant operators had suffered for decades. English and Chinese menus even had different items.Those more sophisticated American customers had feelings that they were marginalized and treated as cultural “outsiders. Carton 21. They assumed that the specialties on wo choy were beyond the apprecia- tion of Americans and there would not be a great demand for it. Folder 2. They reclaimed their lost cultural territory and placed themselves in a dominant cultural position in these establishments. Berkeley. Through the strat- egy of wo choy. Chinese restaurateurs tended to exclude American customers from their cultural and gastronomical domain consciously or unconsciously.”491 Wo choy provides the best example of this. the Chinese community claimed authority on issues like what real Chinese food should be like and how to eat in a Chinese way. “There is a curious paralysis of thought that grips many otherwise rational non-Chinese people when they enter a Chinatown restaurant – the feeling that an intriguing dining experience is just.” San Francisco. “Wo Choy: the Secret Meals of Chi- natown. cuttlefish or pig’s tails. Some dishes that appeared on Chi- nese menus could not be found on English ones. “The Joys of Wo Choy.C. “It would seem so to a non-Chinese who scans the menu and is unable to find what the next table of Chinese are eating – such as periwinkles. In order to get good food. Possessing cultural capital of culinary matters. non-Chinese 491 Wong. Ethnic Studies Library. beyond reach.” the author stated. U. The limited range of choices on English menus made it hard for American customers to get a glimpse of the chefs’ full repertoires.” Sometime. Just like decades ago when white Americans stereotyped Chinese restaurants as filthy and unclean. Wo choy was the Menu of the Day in Chinese restaurants and was written in Chinese only. but for- ever. 191 .” 492 Robin Zehring and Leslie Nathanson. It included several dishes grouped together and the price was usually lower than a la carte.

learn a few Chinese names for dishes or ingredients. “Comida Sin Par. To sum up.. their taste changed and became much more sophisticated. it was American customers who approached Chinese food. ethnic food is capable of twisting relations of power and knowledge in the food market. the cultural relation between American customers and Chinese restaurateur changed. They took the initiative in learning the way Chinese people order in restaurants.customers had to take action. In the social space of “insider’s” restaurants. It was food that caused a change in cultural relations. Chinese restaurateurs who used to be the subordinated became the dominant in terms of cultural position. Chinese food was no longer modified for American eaters. and a new form of cultural relation was established. “Why Is It Hard to Get Chopsticks. it was non-Chinese cus- tomers rather than Chinese restaurants that made adaptations. authentic food instead of what the proprietors think non-Chinese like. Because of food. original Chinese food: Nor does it do any good to make a fuss because it simply won’t do any good. “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese. food not only voices power relations but also changes them.” 494 Ferretti. attention instead of disdain. In these restaurants. 493 Cost. In this setting. the old cultural hierarchy in which white Americans were in a dominant position was challenged.” 198.495 The change of cultural relations might further stimulate a change of social relations.”493 American diners had to decipher Chinese cultural codes in order to be treated as “insiders” and finally get real.” 495 Ferrero. Through trying unfamiliar food. 192 .494 American diners not only learned to appreciate what the Chinese community savored but also followed the Chinese culinary customs and dining etiquettes. Like Sylvia Ferrero as- serted. The cultural roles of people were reversed in this type of restaurants – white American customers were no longer the “rule makers” but had to observe the culinary rules of the Chinese community. What one has to do is develop a strategy…I have come up with some rules of behavior that just might get you chopsticks instead of a fork. “If you want to be treated as something more than a barbarian.

the more a foodie likes it.5% of the adult population in the U.” According to Packaged Facts. and natural/organic food as well as their desire for fresh ingredients and upscale presentation.498 These food-conscious people are constantly discovering rare ingredients. no.S. consumer survey data showed 19. 497 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 4th ed.2  Non-Chinese Customers – Authenticity and Foodie Culture Besides Chinese customers. here I would like to explore it from the consumer’s perspective and focus on the consumption rather than the produc- tion side of foodie culture. They are willing to taste things that are unconventional to them. 499 Goodyear. 3. there were also a number of non-Chinese custom- ers who regularly patronized restaurants mainly serving the Chinese commu- nity. 2 (2013): 18. gourmet. – foodie culture. novel and adventur- ous dishes. Anything That Moves. is foodies.”496 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines the term “foodie” as “a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food.S. They also like to talk about the food items that are unusual or even “inedible” in the minds of mainstream Americans and feel proud of their 496 Elizabeth Sloan. food writers as well as any eaters who have a particular interest in and are also willing to devote time. 193 . “The Foodie Phenomenon. and tend to learn food culture at a deeper level. More and more Americans joined in the rank of “foodies. new and exciting flavors. 498 Although the term “foodie” also includes people who are interested in food preparation such as enthusiastic chefs. This suggested the emergence of a new eating culture in the U. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Foodies are people “who are charac- terized by their interest in trying new products and more intensive attitudes/ behaviors about foreign. money and energy to food-related activi- ties all belong to the category.4. Just like Dana Goodyear said.” Food Technology 67. Thanks to the prosperity of American ethnic foodscapes.”497 Gourmets. 1992). “the more outlandish and rarefied a find. They not only showed a strong interest in the food but also wrote about the exciting and unusual eating experiences they had in these restaurants. especially the rapid increase of different types of ethnic restaurants. the palates of American diners underwent significant change and became more tolerant and sophisticated since the 1980s. food con- noisseurs.2.”499 These food aficionados show a strong interest in foods that are uncommon to them. spicy.

essential. and real. 503 Shyon Baumann and Josee Johnston. gizzard. for the sake of authenticity.500 Ethnic cuisines. “The Foodie Phenomenon. First of all. 501 Elizabeth Sloan. 2008).”504 He went on to elaborate: “authentic objects.502 It seems that foodies are generally sensitive to and obsessed with the term “authenticity”: “Authenticity is a key element of how foodies evaluate and legitimate food choices. but also eat in small. 1. “At minimum. it is the leading member of a set of values that includes sincere. In eating exotic foods. there were some American customers who ordered the most peculiar and unusual items from the menu. In exploring foodie culture. 69. The phrase “anything that moves” which used to be an insult when referring to the unrestricted eating habits of some particular ethnic groups now becomes a foodie-to foodie brag.” Charles Lindholm wrote in the introduction of Culture and Authenticity. non-Chinese foodies conducted a culinary adventure by trying Chinese foodstuffs that were strange to them like tongue. In res- taurants serving the Chinese community. duck heads and pig ear. became a culinary domain that foodies are enthusiastic about exploring. tripe. which are full of exotic foodstuffs and strange flavors. original. Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape (New York: Routledge. high-end establish- ments. 504 Charles Lindholm. persons. shabby hole-in-the-wall eateries. The owner of Lee’s Garden said that when his small restaurant had just opened. But what on earth does authenticity mean to foodies? And why is authenticity of such great significance? Here I would like to discuss the issue of authenticity in relation to audience and recipients rather than producers.unchecked appetite. 194 .501 They not only patronize upscale. Culture and Authenticity (Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 29% of American foodies are more likely to enjoy eating foreign foods than the general population. According to a survey. 2010). 500 Ibid. In defining “authenticity.” 502 Based on the personal interviews of the author. foodies are willing to break the culinary taboos of their social group. and try food which is challenging or even repulsive to them.”503 Foodies have a strong inclination to seek “authentic” food when they dine out. authenticity is a vital concern. natural. 4–5. I in- vestigate the essential questions of what authenticity is and who can tell the authentic from the inauthentic..

collectives are original. Thus. 388. real. 509 Lisa Heldke. 507 Cohen. 2. their essence and appearance are one. but 505 Ibid. then how strong is the connec- tion supposed to be and how true should they be to their cultural roots? The criterion of evaluation seems so elusive and tricky. and pure. “Authenticity and Commoditization in Tourism. 195 . ed. 506 Lu and Fine. Erik Cohen suggested that authenticity should be seen as a negotiable rather than a primitive concept and it is being constructed through new cultural developments. “But is it Authentic? Culinary Travel and the Search for the ‘Genu- ine Article’” in The Taste Culture Reader. like “invented traditions.” authenticity is socially constructed.”509 Like any other aspect of culture. does the authenticity he described really exist in reality? If things are considered as authentic as long as they have a strong connection to their provenance and are true to their cultural roots. People define authenticity in association with their own social experience.” 535. they are what they purport to be. in this ‘native habitat’?” She argued this understanding of authenticity ignored the possibility that “an insider might regard it as ‘authentic’ to modify a dish in order to respond to different local conditions and ingredients.”508 In this vein. “Authenticity is not an objective criterion but is socially constructed and linked to expectations…authenticity also has a relational character. there are different standards and percep- tions in evaluating and understanding the authenticity of a particular type of cuisine among different groups of diners.. “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity: Chinese Food as a Social Accomplishment. In discussing the issue of au- thenticity in tourism. authenticity seems to be “a matter of degree. Carolyn Korsmeyer (Oxford: Berg.”505 However. different types of tourists have different criteria in the quest of authenticity.507 Shun Lu and Gary Alan Fine asserted. the culinary culture of a particular social group is not static and stable.”506 It is a relative notion rather than an absolute and there is no “golden standard” to evaluate it. “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity. Cohen said people in different conditions may perceive authenticity in different terms. In the tourist world. Besides that. Lisa Heldke asked “should ‘authentic’ automatically and in principle mean that a dish was prepared exactly the way an insider cook would do it. 2005). In discussing authenticity in regards to food. their roots are known and verified.” 508 Lu and Fine.” 538.

Foodies. 512 Heldke. modifications and variations cannot be avoided.”510 This challenges the very existence of absolutely “authentic” food. technological change. See Lindholm. Authenticity is not an inherited and intrinsic property of food. Charles Lind- holm also argued that authentic cuisine is socially constructed and invented in some particular socioeconomic and cultural context when he discussed the authentication process of Belizean. as with any other cultural objects or forms. Culture and Authenticity. although it seems that authenticity is a desirable trait among customers and no one claims that he/she likes “fake” food. “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity. instead of emerging from a cultural object’s qualities. constant change. or alterations in food-related ideologies. 196 . In the evolvement of a certain cuisine. while non-Chinese customers tend to mix up “exotic” and “authentic” food in Chinese restaurants. authenticity is a matter of perceptions and expectations: “authenticity is generated through perceptions of how a cultural object negotiates a set of standards and values. authentic food should be of the same taste.” 388.512 Dean MacCannell argued that what outsiders (no matter restaurant customers or tourists) believe as “authentic” might be just a kind of “staged 510 Lu and Fine. appearance and smell as what they used to have in their home country. “But is it Authentic?. migration. Speaking from the perspective of consumers. What cultural outsid- ers identify as “authentic” may just be something new or unfamiliar to their own cultural group and may or may not seem “genuine” and “real” to in- siders. “From generation to generation.” 538. In the eyes of immigrants.”511 To return to Chinese American food. In a certain sense. these standards and values differ from time to time and from place to place. Italian and French national cuisine. some culinary preparations and foodways absorb features of ‘alien’ foods – perhaps a func- tion of biological succession of foodstuffs. shortages. different types of consumers would give different definitions of authen- tic Chinese food. The authenticity non-Chinese eaters pursue is different from that requested by Chinese immigrants. 511 Baumann and Johnston. to assess whether a particular food is authentic or not depends on one’s standpoint and his/her social and cultural imaginations. but only exists in people’s imaginations. 71.

To them. ac- cessed November 11. the “authentic” eating experience sought by common American diners is not the same as what foodies demand.laweekly. strangeness and exoticness make food authentic. “Lamb is the Lure at Liang’s Kitchen in Monterey Park”. 514 Meredith E. which they regard as “authentic. 515 Jim Thurman. Chop suey serves as the best example to illustrate this point. http://www. In contrast.” Although the dishes in most Chinese restaurants were modified and might seem quite Americanized to the Chinese community.laweekly. which was in fact merely an “exotic” cultural invention and was never in a real sense recognized by the Chinese community. foodies are more sophisticated in terms of culinary issues and much more concerned about the authenticity of food. 197 . 1999). exotic and delicious.authenticity” which is fabricated deliberately by cultural producers. http://www. 2014.” foodies were adventurous in trying the dishes that were new to them. The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (Los Angeles: University of California Press. In eating ethnic food. what non-Chinese regard as authentic is merely something exotic.514 Even within the group of non-Chinese consumers. chop suey was considered an authentic Chinese dish in America. For instance. 1–25. They paid special attention to previously unnoticed and uncommon squidink/2013/12/12/chinese-sausages-where-to-find-four-regional-versions. newness.515 “When 513 Dean lamb-is-the-lure-at-liangs-kitchen-in-monterey-park and “Chinese Sausag- es + Where to Find Four Regional Versions”. For a long time. In Chinese restaurants for “insiders. They try to understand ethnic food and food culture at a deep level and go much further than ordinary eaters in a search of authenticity. To the majority of American eaters. It’s Original. It seems that ordinary American diners don’t care as much about authentic- ity as foodies do.513 More often than not. a food writer introduced a variety of Chinese lamb dishes and sausages from differ- ent regions of China to other diners through his L.” Food & Foodways 12 (2004). and also attempted to introduce the inconspicuous aspects of Chinese cuisine to other American eaters. authenticity doesn’t seem to be a big problem as long as the food is pleasant to them. Abarca. weekly blogs. they were nevertheless perceived as real Chinese food by common American eaters. “Authentic or Not.A. ordinary customers simply expect something different. Cultural outsiders under- stand the authenticity of ethnic food quite differently from insiders.

2014. bamboo shoots. the artistic and aesthetic appeal of Chinese food was given emphasis think of sausage. said the food writer. “The SGV’s Yunnan Restaurant is one of the Only Yunnan Res- taurants in America”. then probably Italy. Germany. in introducing the cold dishes in Yunnan Restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley. tofu and onion into uniform rectangles and cooks together with a few peppers and a nicely seasoned brown sauce. The trick is in 516 Max Jacobson. http://www. “First Chaur Jou: Chinese Food For Unbelievers. a foodie wrote. By comparing the food in American ethnic restaurants with that in its place of origin. When telling about his dining experience in a Chaur Jou (Chao Zhou) squidink/2014/07/15/the-sgvs-yunnan-restaurant-is-one-of-the-only-yunnan- restaurants-in-america. Some foodies even establish their authority and enhance their credibility by travel- ling to the place of origin of a particular foreign cuisine. the foodie discourse in America was full of references to the cultural traditions and histories of the cuisine concerned.”516 Similarly. They have a separate language and a distinctive regional cuisine. Witness the comment a foodie made on a Chinese dish named “twice- cooked pork”: For this moderately spicy but deeply subtle dish. 1986.laweekly. Since the “authenticity” of ethnic cuisine often has close connections to its specific geographical. In foodie discourses on Chinese food. But China has an incredibly rich history of sausage-making…”. 517 James Gordon. Through a culinary trip. these foodies put themselves in a better position to judge whether the food is the “real thing” or not. accessed November 11. a food writer introduced the origin of the cuisine to his audience: “Chaur Jou is actually a part of a northeastern Canton prov- ince inhabited primarily by fishermen. foodies also like to study a particular dish in details and dig deep into an ethnic cuisine. historical and cultural roots. Foodies also have an aesthetic appreciation of food .the artistry of ethnic cooking especially attracts their attention. “It’s common in China to enter a restaurant and grab two or three small cold dishes to start your meal…”517 Here the culinary practice in China was drawn upon to make a comparison. In the quest of authenticity. 198 . May 30. they acquire more knowledge and information on the foreign cuisine. obviously. Chinese cuisine is probably not what immediately comes to mind. which naturally includes many ways to prepare seafood. Mandarin Dynasty cuts pork tenderloin.” Los Angeles Times.

not only through the traditional media like newspapers and food magazines. Foodies usually have a desire to share their personal dining experiences in ethnic restaurants. 4.518 The subtlety of Chinese cooking. foodies distinguish themselves from ordinary diners.” the non-Chinese food writer shared his knowledge of the Chinese 518 David Nelson. By their serious pursuit of authenticity in food. thanks to their knowledge and dining experiences. The quest of a relatively higher degree of authenticity is one of the status markers of foodies. but each has a slightly different texture and a decidedly different taste. The authenticity that is pursued by foodies is much closer to the one demanded by the cultural insiders. Thus. Their knowledge of food and their “ad- vanced” palate that developed through their eating experiences are their expertise. In the discourse. 1989. was noticed and voiced by foodies. they usually claim authority on ethnic eating. which constitute an important part of the foodie discourse. October 20. foodies develop a more discriminating palate and better discernment of food. They tell their audience where to get “dangerous” but delicious food through mass media. Ordinary eaters don’t bother spending so much time and effort in the search for “authentic” food and are not that enthusiastic about exploring a foreign cuisine at a deep level. which might be ignored by the general public. In an article titled “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese. they don’t possess the ability to ques- tion the authenticity of ethnic food. They are more capable of telling the authentic from the inauthentic. Foodies seek status distinction by their eating practices and food knowledge.”519 They place themselves in the position of experts in terms of culinary culture by showing their discernment and knowledge of food. “A Chinese Restaurant That Offers Variations on Stereotyped Standards. and act as food “preachers” who can give information and pass on culinary knowledge to others. but also through new forms of channels such as e-communities like yelp. chowhound as well as personal food blogs. Foodies. foodies engaged in identity politics and status distinctions through their eating practices. 519 Johnston and Baumann. 199 . the appearance: all the bits look the same. Unlike ordinary diners. “At the same time that they genu- inely enjoy food.” Los Angeles Times. They display their expertise by introducing the public to what they see as authentic ethnic food.

which sets them apart from the general public. non-Chinese foodies tried every possible way to act like a Chinese. steamed Hunan-style fish head can be ordered in a hot pot or with noodles and vegetable dishes are also on the menu. As it was shown by the case of Chinese food. 200 .” 522 Jim Thurman. They uttered Chinese words. Foodies show how they differ from non-foodies by acting differently in the face of strange food. They want to assert that like ordinary diners they are in their comfort zone when encountering or even eating unusual food. foodies show their culinary connoisseurship by boasting a more developed palate and better taste.”522 Neither offal nor fish head seemed repulsive to the foodie.” 521 Jacobson. “Monterey Park’s Top Guide to Middle Kingdom. their culinary tolerance and omnivorousness in encountering unusual food justified their “foodie” status. ignore what the waiter recommends.laweekly. 2014. First and foremost. It’s beyond description. Foodies like to brag about their fondness of food that is not palatable to the mainstream Americans. http://www. They pursue a distinctive status and distinguish themselves from general diners in several ways.”520 Their discernment and knowledge on food that is attained through dining experience operate as a form of cultural capital. the latter either in a hot pot or pickled in a rice bowl. including some offal or frog. followed 520 Cost. a food writer expressed his appreciation matter-of-factly: “One of their best dishes is a snake soup made from cobra. In describing a Chinese dish that contains snake. Another food writer had a similar attitude in introducing a Hunan-style restaurant: “A variety of meats are available in the dishes. Secondly. chicken and dried scallop. a challenging food item to most Americans. Of dining with his readers with the tone of a culinary godfather: “unless you’ve established yourself at a Chinese restaurant. the kind of dish people travel great distances to experience.” accessed November 11. It seemed that foodies make a declaration that they are a group of omnivorous eaters. “An Advanced Course in Dining Chinese. with legendary powers as aphrodisiac. In Chinese restaurants.”521 The idea of using snake as a food item didn’t seem to bother or even surprise him even a little bit. foodies usually have a strong desire of being identified as cultural insiders. “New Hunan Restaurant Chiliking Family Opens in the new-hunan-restaurant-chiliking-family-opens-in-the-sgv.

foodies gain knowledge and discernment of food. when your teapot is empty.” 524 Pierre Bourdieu. in my case. “Why is It Hard to Get Chopsticks. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste.524 However. It is the existence of socioeconomic hierarchies that leads to differences in aesthetic preferences. taste is not necessarily an indicator of social class but manifests cultural differences in people. Accesses to ethnic dining were widely available to any eater since the doors of inexpensive ethnic restaurants were open to every customer. Since foodies come from different social strata. to tip back the teapot lid… Then after he has brought the filled pot to the table. 1984).”523 By claiming they are different from ordinary eaters in terms of both taste and dining behaviors. And he believed one’s possession of economic. social and cultural capital bestows him/her the social distinction. They attain a distinctive cultural status by claim- ing their rich knowledge of food and their “advanced” and refined taste. This is an unobtrusive way of saying thank you. Richard Nice (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. The difference between foodie and non-foodie to a large extent depends on whether one has motivation and intention to acquire culinary knowledge and experience. social and cultural capitals such like parental class background and educational level. Bourdieu connected one’s taste and life style with his/her eco- nomic. A food writer once told his readers how to ask for a refill of tea and how to thank the waiter in a Chinese way: “It is polite. 201 . socioeconomic factors don’t seem to be essential in taste differentiation. In foodie culture. the distinction between foodies and non-foodies is more about cultural status than social class. Through their dining experiences. foodies establish a symbolic boundary between them- selves and ordinary American eaters. the gourmet foodscape has become more democratic in America and the foodie status more easily at- tainable. turn it downward and tap the table gently with your fingertips. 523 Ferretti. With the new prosperity of ethnic restaurants. trans. Pierre Bourdieu argued in his seminal work Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste the differences in taste are associated with positions in the social class structure. you cup your right hand. which empowers them and distinguishes them from the general public.Chinese customs and ordered what Chinese customers were eating.

Jonathan Golden. bold. To foodies. although the emergence of foodie culture featured by omnivorousness democratized the gourmet foodscape in America. which had a historical preference for French cuisine. which distinguish themselves from other eaters culturally.. foodies demonstrate their gastronomic dis- tinctiveness and culinary sophistication. It is not uncommon for a large number of people to patronize an underground restaurant and try its specialties after a famous food writer publicized it. it nevertheless creates new cultural and social distinction since cultural capital can sometimes be transformed into social capital. and exotic.525 Although seemingly the foodie culture doesn’t involve class or socioeconomic status. which is more dynamic and diversified than any- where else. this group of people devel- ops a unique collective cultural identity through their eating practices and their storytelling about eating experiences. Shyon Baumann and Josee Johnston said in their book Foodies: Democ- racy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape. food is a marker of status and a source of distinction with which they can claim their special cultural identity. said: “The difference is that in New York they are 525 Johnston and Baumann. 25. a food writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. 526 Ibid. Foodies make a big contribution to the expansion of American food boundaries and the reshaping of the American palate. Foodies. Restaurants for “insiders” revealed the distinctiveness of the Chinese foodscape in California. In talking about the difference between Chinese restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. it continued to generate sources of status distinction and maintained a taste of hierarchy within the foodie discourse. Through food consumption. Baumann and Johnston also discussed the influence of foodies on the mainstream eaters: “elite food professionals and food enthusiasts constantly push the boundaries of what is considered daring. The eating practices and food writing of foodies exert an influence on the way ordinary Americans eat. Although anyone might have access to the “foodie” status no matter what his/her socioeconomic status is. 202 . some (but not all) of these trends slowly filtered down to mainstream eaters… ”526 Thus. foodies serve as very important agents of change in American culinary culture in recent years.

restaurants were often categorized by ethnicity. Best Restaurants.3 Cross-over Consumption – The Birth of a Transethnic Cuisine and Cosmopolitan Identity As previously discussed. Due to the ex- istence of diverse ethnic foodways and the confluence of different ethnic eating. 528 Jacqueline Killeen. ethnic restaurants began to tailor their food to the tastes of different ethnic groups after 1965.”527 Instead of adapting Chinese food to the preferences of mainstream American customers. The way “insiders” eat exercises a cultural influence on ordinary Californian eaters and changes their way of eating and thinking to a certain extent. Mexican but also Eastern European. the Chinese foodscape is much more complex in metropolitan California than elsewhere in the United States. Here they’re cooking for themselves. 1984). Peruvian and so on. cross-over food consumption between different ethnic groups was commonplace. vii. San Francisco Bay Area (New York: The Scribner Book Companies. the restaurant guides of Los Angeles and the Bay Area were full of ethnic restaurants. 4. Chinese. An article from the Los Angeles Time reported about a Chinese restaurant “where Chinese dishes are prepared to the Filipino taste with American ingredients. Indian. “The city now teems with some 5000 dining places…representing almost every ethnic culture. A San Francisco restaurant guide said in 1984. French. Italian. Anything That Moves. Since the social composition of consumers was highly diverse in terms of ethnicity in metropolitan for us.”528 In these restaurant guides. 203 . these restaurants targeted “insiders” – the Chinese community and people who are willing to behave like Chinese in terms of eating. Thai. Ever since the 1970s. 23.” Since dishes were adapted to the Filipino 527 Goodyear. the Golden State has a distinctive culinary culture. No longer only catering to the preferences of white European Americans. there is a multi-ethnic cuisine for multiethnic consumers in California. Being no exception. Chinese restaurants modified their food differently to accommodate eaters from dif- ferent ethnic backgrounds. With a rich mix of multi-ethnic populations. The change of the lo- cal eating habits and culinary culture would lead to the formation of a new cultural identity for locals.

”529 The situation was particularly true in Chinese restaurants located in the enclaves of other ethnic groups. food purveyors had to adapt their food to different tastes. In order to attract customers of diverse ethnic backgrounds. For instance. three are white Americans. “Chinese Food is Prepared for Filipino Taste.” Los Angeles Times. 532 Kamp. chefs were enthusiastic about blending culinary elements from dif- ferent ethnic cooking in a single plate and came up with various fusion 529 Barbara Hansen. 1988.” In this restaurant.” Los Angeles Times.” In the early 1980s. June 23. February 26. Wolfgang Puck invented Sino-French fusion cuisine in his restaurant Chinois on Main by blending elements of Chinese and French cooking in a single dish. white room is often jammed with Filipino families and customers waiting for order to go. noodles were served in oversized bowls. 530 Barbara Hansen. the five main characters who live in Pasadena. one Jewish American and one Indian immigrant. “The small. sparkling. 2007.palate. In Los Angeles.532 Since then. It echoed the reality that in California the multi-ethnic consumers who are willing to cross their own culinary boundary consume different ethnic foods. in one of the most popular American sitcoms The Big Bang Theory.530 A Chinese restaurateur whose establishment was located in a Jewish neighborhood told me he offered kosher Chinese food to his Jewish customers. a Chinese restaurant in Korean Town named the Heart of China figured out “how to cater to Korean tastes without being so obvious as to accompany meals with kimchi. California eat ethnic foods on a regular basis – they eat Chinese and Thai food on a weekly basis as it is claimed by the characters. The United States of Arugula. There was an important culinary invention that distinguished California from other places: “fusion cuisine.531 Cross-over eating of ethnic cuisines signified that the culinary boundaries between ethnic groups were further broken down. which premiered on CBS on Septem- ber 24. the place was popular among Filipinos. 531 Based on the author’s personal interview. This culinary consumption trend found its expression in mass media. Among the five people. “Chinese Food with Flavor of Korea. according to cus- tom in Korea. and the cultural domi- nance of white Americans was seriously challenged after 1965 in the market. 204 . 1987. 252.

California has a unique culinary history and tradition. April 10.” in Culture and Customs of the United States. May 28. see M. “California cooking is also in fact a fusion of tastes from all over the world. 534 Robert Lindsey. and Amy Spector. “California Grows Her Own Cuisine. commented the New York Times. Mexican. Shearer (Westport. Shearer. “Culinary Trends in Gold Rush San Francisco…with Molasses on Top. “Originally inspired in part and still largely influenced by the cooking of North Italy. restaurants in the city of San Francisco served different ethnic cuisines to miners of dif- ferent ethnicities.” New York Times. http://chscsite. 2000. “Intra-Asian Fusion. 205 . Alan Liddle.”535 Why did “transethnic cuisine” first appear in California but not in other metropolitan cities? A few social and cultural factors might contribute to the emergence of this new type of cuisine. “Hisashi Yoshiara: Japanese Import Stirs Up Interest In Fusion Cuisine. Mexico.534 Culture and Customs of the United States said. “Cuisine and Fashion. August 18. English. 2008). 1985.533 Ethnic cuisines began to borrow elements from and merge with one other. Peters. Benjamin trends-in-gold-rush-san-francisco-with-molasses-on-top/. C. The birth of fusion cuisine marked the formation of a “transethnic cuisine” in the Golden State. January 17.concoctions like Korean-Chinese.” Nation’s Restaurant News. Italian-Mexican and Japanese-French. China. It helped ethnic cuisines attain unprecedented popularity during this time period.536 The advocacy and celebration of multiculturalism in the 1960s and 1970s in American society promoted this culinary tradi- tion of California. French. 535 Benjamin F. CT: Greenwood Press. Volume 2: Culture. Southeast Asia. and included cuisines such as Chinese.” Nation’s Restaurant News. “New SF Restaurants Signal Rising Trend in Asian-fusion Dining. and Italian. the American Indian and others”. Ethnic and cultural diversity resulting from the long immigration history has played an important role in shaping the foodways of California. 1998. 212. ed. Anderson. 536 Erica J. The emergence of fusion cuisine in California suggested the boundaries between different ethnic cuisines were becoming blurred and permeable. First of all. 2000. 2014.” Asianweek. Multiculturalism received the warmest response in California where the non-white population was on its way to surpass the 533 On fusion cuisine. As early as the gold rush era.” accessed October 19. the state’s cuisine is melding the culinary styles of Western Europe with those of Japan.

California boasted a culture of innovation. It was this cultural environment that nurtured inventive celebrity chefs like Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. 1950–1963 (Oxford: Oxford University Press. certainly stood in the very forefront of the culinary changes. Nigel Whiteley and Nicholas Abercrombie. There is a firmly held belief in modern Western societies – to have is to be. which provided fertile soil for commodity production and cultural creation. Hollywood and Disneyland. consumerism also helped promote culinary experimentation and innovation. As the home of Silicon Valley. as their base.. 1994). 539 Celia Lury. 7. In ad- dition.538 In order to satisfy the demands of customers. Secondly. see Kevin Starr. People in California enjoyed experimen- tation and had a strong desire and curiosity for trying new things. It is consumers who have sovereignty in the marketplace. the local culture helped cultivate the new type of cui- sine. Thanks to the multiculturalism as well as the new inflow of immigrants.539 Thus. see Russell Keat. “It is in the sphere of consumption – conspicuous leisure on the basis of adequate disposable income – that many will seek to express 537 On the social. food producers needed to come up with new types of cuisine and novel food products. 538 On the shift of authority from producers to consumers in the marketplace. economic. the consumption of material and cultural goods plays a significant role in not only expressing but also shaping the cultural identity of consumers. 1996). 206 . consumerism flourished in Cali- fornia since the mid-20th century. 2009). foodscapes in California became more diversified after the 1960s. Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abun- dance. California. Consumers seek self-expression through their personal choices in the marketplace. Consumer Culture (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. People tend to define themselves and others based on the things they possess. eds.white population. Transethnic eating in California can also be seen as an expression of anti-provincialism in the culinary field.537 A considerable number of affluent and food-conscious consumers in California hunted for novel food to resist the culinary boredom induced by mass-production. set the culinary trends and changed the relations between food and people in America. Thanks to postwar affluence. These chefs launched a series of food move- ments. political and cultural life of California in the post- war years. The Authority of the Consumer (London: Routledge. of great importance to who you are. Alan Tomlinson (London: Routledge. or electing oneself to a shared form of identification.. Meanings. 4 (November 1994): 878.” in Consumption. They manipulate or manage appearances and thereby create and sustain a ‘self-identity. Thomas M. 14. 542 Ibid. “Tell me what you eat. and I will tell you who you are. “Food. Just like Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin asserted in 1825. respectively.”544 Lu and Fine also argued “Through the 540 Alan Tomlinson. Wilson. 6. The consumer choice has a performative character in the marketplace – con- sumption behavior helps the consumer present an image of himself/herself to others and the image in turn influences the consumer’s perception of the self. A few sociologists like Ulrich Beck. cre- ating a reflexive self. Identity. “Introduction: Consumer Culture and the Aura of the Com- modity. “Consumption. a renewed personal or collective identity of the consumer might come into being through his purchase of commodities in the marketplace. “Consumer choice is deeply implicated in the process of. Different from dress. ed. We are What We Eat. no. Identity-Formation and Uncertainty.”543 What you put in your mouth - what you literally consume . Anthony Giddens and Zygmunt Bau- man shared the opinion that “people define themselves through the messages they transmit to others through the goods and practices that they possess and display. music or any other objects of consumption. 543 Thomas M. 882–83. food is essential to human life and hence a highly significant marker of identity. the consumption of food is “often at the center of what observers think of others as well as what people think of themselves as they make choices or are constrained in their attempts to use food and drink as markers of identity. their personal power. 2006). 541 Alan Warde. National and Cosmopolitan Culture. The decisions of purchase made by consumers affect their identity formation. 1990). ed.their sense of freedom. Wilson (Amsterdam: Rodopi. 544 Gabaccia.”540 They also (re)construct their identities through their consumption behaviors.” in Food. their status aspiration.’”541 Consumption behaviors that are based on free choice invoke a self-reflection and self-identification of the consumer.” Sociology 28. Drink and Identity in Europe. Drink and Identity in Europe: Consumption and the Construction of Local. constructing a narrative of self. and the Packaging of Pleasure.”542 Thus. 207 . and Style: Marketing. Thus.

546 Shaun Naomi Tanaka. First of all.consumption of ethnic cuisine we demonstrate to ourselves and others that we are cosmopolitan and tolerant: our character is expressed through our behavior in the market. Californian eaters from different ethnic back- grounds displayed their culinary adventurousness. Commodities in the market no longer only catered to the preferences of white Americans. Ethnic commodities. needed to satisfy the demands of a multi- ethnic group of people who boasted a multi-ethnic culture and a collective cosmopolitan identity. Cosmopolitan identity was no longer reserved exclusively for the middle and upper-class people for them to show their special social status. Whiteness was no longer the norm in California. the cross-cultural consumption of different ethnic cuisines by a multi-ethnic population has been shaping the identity of local Californians. and this very image invoked their self-reflection and self- identification. especially white cultural supremacy.”546 Since eating foreign foods has a close connection to the mentality of embracing and exhibiting cosmopolitanism. tolerance and flexibility of Californians in their eating practices and culinary beliefs can by summarized by a single word: cosmopolitanism. a new kind of cultural democracy was manifested through the formation of a cosmopolitan identity among aver- age consumers. The openness. “The Presentation of Ethnic Authenticity.’ Constructing the Cos- mopolitan Canadian: Reinterpreting Japanese Culinary Culture in Toronto’s Japanese Restaurants (PhD diss. I’d like to argue Californian consumers built a cosmopolitan image for themselves and others through their omnivorous food consumption. but was available to common people from every social stratum by 545 Lu and Fine. whatever they were. 87–8. 2008). “Culinary con- structions of cosmopolitanism… are formed through consumption of foods and cuisines that are differentiated culturally and geographically. sophistication. By means of cross-ethnic food consumption.”545 Since California is abundant in ethnic cuisines. 208 . The construction of cosmopolitan identity among Californian consumers has cultural implications. they constructed a cosmopolitan cultural identity through their trans-ethnic eating.. Queen’s University. Secondly. In this way. it challenged ethnocentrism. The participation of people from other races in the con- sumer culture was acknowledged and became increasingly visible. sophisticated palate as well as their cultural tolerance to the outside world. Consuming the ‘Oriental Other.” 539.

“Food. no matter if it was in sit-down restaurants. people soak up exotic cultural atmosphere. In this vein. Sidney Mintz said. food courts. people’s cultural horizons might be broadened and their knowledge structure might be altered. the cultural life of Californians has been shaped by the consumption of ethnic foods.”547 Just as it was revealed in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. 547 Sidney Mintz.means of food consumption. The construction of a collective cosmopolitan identity in California would shed some light on the correlation between food consumption and identity formation of consumers in other metropolitan regions. Thanks to the abundance of cheap ethnic food.” in Food and Globalization: Con- sumption. Through dining in different ethnic restaurants. Being exposing to various ethnic foods on a daily basis. which might arouse their curiosity about the culture behind the food. supermarkets or grocery stores. Alexander Nützenadel and Frank Trentmann (Oxford and New York: Berg. 27. which would result in a transformation of their perceptions of the world and a change in their value system. eating food from diverse ethnic backgrounds doesn’t necessarily entail social exclusion and distinction. Through their dining expe- riences. 209 . food not only reflects but also causes cultural changes. ed. Markets and Politics in the Modern World. 2008). Ethnic food caused a change in the cultural life of Californians. Culture and Energy. get to know different culinary customs and savor delicious dishes. “Changes in food and in taste are changes in culture. eating different ethnic foods become a part of people’s daily life in California.


” in Food Nations. material culture.”549 Food is much more than sustenance.553 In a multiethnic society. it encodes the messages that express social relations. Scholars found that food can be used as a tool to inquire into other issues – “class. Anthropologists are the first group of people in academia who were concerned about the roles of food in the economic. 552 Ibid.. 211 . “To eat is to distinguish and discriminate. These meanings are symbolic and communicated symbolically. the global food system has become more complex and the human relations more entangled. “Deciphering a Meal. Perspectives on an Emerging Field. 550 Ibid.. reminded people who they were in relation to others. but also from how it is 548 Sidney W. 7. gender.” 36.. The relation between an ethnic group and mainstream society is not merely judged from whether its ethnic cuisine is accepted or not. 553 Mary Douglass. food is most often used as a marker of membership and employed to draw social boundaries between different groups of people. 549 Ibid. 551 Warren Belasco. said food historian Warren Belasco. consumer culture. talk about. 10. social and cultural life of people in a given society. and linked them to their gods. Food choices establish boundaries and borders”.”552 Mary Douglass said if food is seen as a code. ethnic food serves as one of the most important symbols of ethnic relations. fortified them for their tasks. 4. Mintz. include and exclude. ethnicity. 5. “Food Matters. conceptualize”548 and “its consumption is always conditioned by meaning. “Food is something we think about. 2.Conclusion Anthropologist Sydney Mintz said. This is because food “cemented loyalties. As a result. food bears more meanings and functions. Tasting Freedom (Boston: Beacon Press. It is loaded with symbolic meanings as anthropologists have discussed for centuries. 1996). Tasting Food.551 Since the turn of the twentieth century. as people and goods moved at an unprecedented rate.”550 Among these roles. and environmental studies.

ethnic cuisines – French.perceived and understood by the people in the host country. traditional studies usually attached importance to the social class of consumers but paid less attention to that of food producers. A look at the history of four non-Anglo- Saxon. the sociocultural background of the food purveyors played a very important role. The transfor- mation of Chinese food from Americanized Cantonese country dishes to a rich variety of regional cuisines in the latter half of the twentieth century has significant social meanings. Based on these facts. French cuisine has enjoyed a high status in the American culinary world for centuries. it took new immigrants only about one decade to make new regional cuisines popular among Ameri- cans. Thanks to the arrival of the middle and upper-class restaurant operators and professional chefs. it makes sense to argue that even within the same ethnic group cuisines from different social classes follow different paths in their acceptance in abroad. which signified the great popularity of the new regional cuisines. would be helpful for us to understand the roles race and class play in the introduction and reception of ethnic cuisines in a host society. Chinese culinary culture has a bigger influence on American diners . In exploring the influence of social class on the market. starting in the late 1960s.554 In the new era. a new Chinese restaurant boom emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. and Chinese food went through gentrification. the American reception of new Chi- nese food was also different from the earlier period. The influence of race and class both find their expression in the status of ethnic food in the host country. Italian.S.some of them even followed the Chinese way of eating in restaurants. Consequently. As 554 As a large wave of Chinese immigrants began to arrive in the U. While earlier Chinese immigrants spent almost half a century in trying to gain the acceptance of old Cantonese food by American society. It first of all reflects change in the relation- ship between the Chinese ethnic group and mainstream society.S. I would like to point out that in the introduction and reception of Chinese cuisine in the new era. 212 . The difference in socioeconomic status between the old and new immigrant restaurateurs was projected on how their respective foods were served in and accepted by American society. a refined Chinese cuisine was brought to the U.S. The change of the class dynamics within the Chinese community can be also observed through food. Chinese and Mexican food – in the U.

556 This was probably owe to the fact that the large number of the Italian immigrants who came to the U. 215.early as the beginning of the 19th century. French immigrants in general enjoyed a relatively high social status in the U. by the large wave of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. elaborate and gourmet eating in America all looked up to and tried to emulate French “haute cuisine” and most of the menus in upscale restaurants were written in French. a total of almost 811. 558 Cinotto. in the 1880s Italians in the United States were largely in manual labor by occupation. 213 .”558 Harvey Levenstein said Italian American food “entered the American mainstream only after the great wave of immi- gration from Italy subsided. Paradox of Plenty.S. middle-class. French immigrants are generally urban. Franck.”559 In contrast.S. 556 Levenstein. skilled. 560 David M.everyculture. 561 Laurie Collier Hillstrom. 2014. From 1820 to 1996. When Italian food was first brought to the U.560 In addition. W. According to the census.S at the turn of the 20th century were from the lower class. Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (New York: HarperPerennial. Eating in America. Facts about American Immigra- tion (New York and Dublin: The H.”561 555 Root and Rochemont.” 559 Levenstein. the image of the Italian ethnic group was “linked with conditions of socioeconomic and cultural backward- ness and inclination for crime. the absence of lower-class French immigrants also contributed to the high status of French cuisine in America. 1990).” 557 Roger Daniels.S. the pace of French emigration to the U. Wilson Company. “French Americans”. and they are most likely to be employed as artisans or merchants. as compared with 38 million from the entire Europe. Brownstone and Irene M. “The American Response to Italian Food.: “French immigrants have tended to be more successful and influential than other groups in America. 195. Italian cuisine became mainstream in a slower pace in America. besides the long-standing fame of French cuisine in Europe.557 Thus.html. http://www.000 French were recorded entering the U. “Serving Ethnicity. 2001). there was “little indication of any growth in interest or appreciation of Italian cookery.S was quite slow. Compared with the massive immigration from many other European countries. accessed November 1.” American social workers even tried to convince Italians to change their food habits. and progres- sive.555 Com- pared to French

and professional cooks even in the darkest reaches of Middle America prided themselves on their recipes for spaghetti and meatballs and dined on “Veal Parmigiano” at restaurants with checkered tablecloths and candles mounted in Chianti bottles on the table. Italian food gained acceptance from American society more quickly and easily than non-white ethnic foods like Chinese and Mexican cuisine.” 214 . Del Taco and mass-produced Mexican food that promoted the popularity of Mexican cuisine.566 Different from Asian Americans who were regarded as the “model minority. housewives. “The American Response to Italian Food. The popularity was “based very much on its purveyor’s ability to dissociate it from its Mexican connotations.” the number of middle and upper-class Mexican people was still relatively small in the United Sates. 565 Levenstein.562 The reception of French and Italian food in American society seemed to prove his point. it didn’t gain nationwide recognition until the 1980s. 217.S. And up until the present. 566 Ferrero. Although sharing similarities with Chinese food.”565 Sylvia Ferrero also said that Mexican food has bad connotations of low status and low class distinctions. Chinese food won little respect from Americans until the arrival of upper and middle-class new immigrants and the rise of the second. the trajectory of Mexican food in the U. Even if it had exerted an important influence on the foodways of the Southwest much earlier.564 It was fast food chains like Taco Bell. In spite of its long-time presence in America. During the Second World War. 563 Levenstein. 562 Levenstein. college students. Sameness in Diversity. as chronicled in this book. 200. Although it received less attention and reverence than French cuisine in the earlier age. 216. has its own distinctiveness. struggled for a long time in gain- ing acceptance.563 Chinese food.and third generation of Chinese Americans.” 564 Jayasanker. long before they were making guacamole in their blenders and dis- cussing the relative merit of Szechuan and Hunanese Chinese food.Levenstein once argued that the adoption of a foreign cuisine in a host society is facilitated by the absence of low status people from whose homeland the cuisine originates. Paradox of Plenty. By the 1940s. the status of Italian food was estab- lished in America. “Comida Sin Par.

However. Class was also an important factor. I would like to say the socioeconomic profile of an ethnic population not necessarily affects the adoption of their ethnic cuisine by the mainstream society. since cultural appropriation is also a form of adoption. Americans even incorporated these dishes into their national diet. group affiliation and disassociation. in spite of the fact that Mexican food has been eaten widely cross the States. and other social categories. 215 . In this vein.stereotypes associated with Mexican people in America are usually labor workers.567 That was the reason why Mexican fast food chains tried to avoid presenting too much Mexicanness and hide some aspects of Mexi- can culture in their settings. they didn’t take Chinese cuisine seriously nor gave it due respect. Although Americans patronized Chinese restaurants and ordered Chinese dishes (mostly faux-Chinese dishes). it did hinder the cuisine from gaining a high culinary status in the United States. Food also operates as a form of communication since it is used by people to “communicate with others and as a means of demonstrating personal identity. American stereotypes of Mexican immigrants are reinforced.568 The social status of the majority of the immigrants influences the status of their cuisine in the host country. The absence of lower-status people and the presence of higher-class ones of a given ethnic group would help its cuisine acquire a higher culinary status in the host country. help or even illegal immigrants as it is represented by the American popular culture. It seemed white cuisines were easier accepted by American society than non-white ones. Nearly all of the Mexican characters in the drama are either hired help or manual workers. Levenstein might be only partly right. The fact that most Chinese people were of lower social status before the mid-20th century didn’t prevent Americans from eat- ing chop suey and chow mein. The factor of race played a significant role in the reception of these four ethnic cuisines. 568 The creation of American chop suey is a perfect example of cultural appro- priation. such 567 In the American television comedy “Devious Maid” which was produced by ABC in 2013. The presence of lower-class people hindered the cuisine from gaining a higher status among other ethnic cuisines and made it difficult to gain cultural respect from American society.

“eating particular foods serves not only as a fulfilling experience. To consumers. 13. Furthermore. Chinese immigrants used their cultural capital on culinary matters and 569 Carlnita P.” 195–6.”569 Food conveys cultural messages and “functions symbolically as a communicative practice by which we socioeconomic class. turned out to be useful and powerful enough to change people’s social conditions. Greene (New York: Peter Lang.”571 Consumers commu- nicate their identities to others and assert their personal freedom by the way they eat. 2011). 572 Ferrero. ethnic objects enable those who involve in the economic transactions of these objects to state a position in a dominant social and economic environment.S. By gaining economic and social relevance. Janet M. Greene and Janet M. manage. 570 Ibid. and share meanings with others”570. new meanings sometimes come into being – Chinese immigrants came up with new cultural inventions and represented a new Chinese ethnicity to Americans. by choosing to eat “transethnic cuisine” and learning about different ethnic culinary cultures. people in California wanted to show that they are cosmopolitan. The act of introducing a more refined Chinese cuisine and more sophisticated Chinese culinary culture to the U. “Comida Sin Par. In the case of my study. During the process of communication. but also as a liberating one – an added way of making some kind of a declaration. Tasting Food. can be seen as a demonstration of power by new immigrants from middle and upper-class backgrounds. Cramer and Carlnita P. Cramer. Chinese restaurateurs communicated their ethnic and cultural identity to American customers through serving them food. Ethnic food is capable of empowering immigrants and causing a change in their social lives. trendy and well informed.” in Food as Communication Com- munication as Food. 571 Mintz. Chinese food enabled Chinese immigrants to assert cultural authority on their own ethnic cuisine and culinary culture. ed. xi. 216 .572 Being such an ethnic object. food serves as an agent of social and cultural changes. Tasting Freedom. usually regarded in the anthropological tradition as forms of self-identification and as a means of understanding people’s intimate worlds. “Beyond Mere Sustenance: Food as communication/ Communication as Food. objects considered to be ethnic. Consumption of Mexican Food in Los Angeles”: In this way. Sylvia Ferrero said in “Comida Sin Par..

Ethnic food also exerts a cultural influence on the host country. Caldwell (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. tolerant and sophisticated. The cultural appreciation of Chinese cuisine and the favorable at- titude towards Chinese culinary culture held by Americans influenced their perceptions of Chinese culture. Due to the existence of diverse ethnic foodways and the conflux of them. ed. An interest in food may arouse people’s curiosity in other aspects of the given culture.573 eating a “transethnic cuisine” in their everyday life helped Californians construct a new cultural identity. people in California developed a unique collective palate. which is more open. In post-1965 American society. 2009). 574 Marion Nestle. Chinese food serves not only as the symbol and icon of Chineseness in the United States. By means of food. 217 . Melissa L. xi. Among all the aspects of ethnic culture. no. In this way. Daily exposure to different ethnic cuisines and different ethnic cultures changed the knowledge structure and world-views of local Californians. It is especially true in as multicultural of a society as the United States. but is also as the most important cut-in point for Americans to learn about Chinese culture. food facilitated upward social mobility for Chinese restaurant operators and improved their social conditions.achieved their American dreams in the restaurant business. Food makes societal changes much easier to understand. The practice of eating a foreign food makes it much easier for people to take in the foreign culture. Food serves as a lens through which social trends can be seen and explored. 1 (Spring 1999): 27–34. Ethnic food also causes a change in the eating habits and the culinary cul- ture of the host country. Marion Nestle said in the foreword of Food and Everyday Life in the Post-socialist World that “food makes issue accessible. empowered themselves and realized their American dreams.” “multiculturalism” and “Americanization” more 573 Warren Belasco. Chinese food contributed to the development of the American palate and opened the culinary horizons of American people.” Culture & Agriculture 21. vivid and tangible. Since food is central to the personal and collective identi- ties of human beings. introduction to Food and Everyday Life in the Post-socialist World.”574 Food makes abstract con- cepts like “globalization. Chinese restau- rateurs utilized their cultural capital. “Why Food Matters. food is most accessible.

Food shows how Chinese immigrants adapted to the new social and cultural environment and built new identities. As the concept of authenticity is socially constructed. Food is probably the most visible aspects of Chinese culture globally. migration. However. Through the transformation of one particular ethnic cuisine. but instead think of them as new cultural entities. the local cultural dynamics give the same food different forms. Chinese food in different regions still exhibited different characteristics as is illustrated in the book Globalization of Chinese Food. we can get a clear and distinct picture of complex and elusive social processes. multiculturalism and suburbanization are all linked together by Chinese food in the United States.575 It is the cultural dynamics of different 575 In this book. transformed and reinvented through the pro- cess of indigenization and localization. It also acts as a bond linking different social trends together and connecting things that are not supposed to go together. An investigation of Chinese American food also helps reconstruct Ameri- can culinary history. Through food. In my case. In spite of the homogenizing forces of globalization.S. The ubiquitous presence of Chinese restaurants in almost every corner of the world demonstrates their cultural importance. This work will not only add a new case study of ethnic foods in America. Although they derived from the food that originated in China. and 218 . I see food and foodways as products of particular places. consumption. the contributors talk about Chinese food in different regions and countries. there is no single “authentic” Chinese dish but many locally-invented dishes because even within China the same dish may have many regional variations. from Austrian and Indonesian to Japan and Philippines. I do not regard the altered and modified Chinese food in foreign lands as bastardized versions of Chinese food. transnationalism. we can better understand the culinary changes in America and the evolution of the American cuisine over the past fifty years. they were modified. which are constructed locally. The study of Chinese food in the U. glo- balization. but also con- tribute to the study of the globalization of Chinese food from a regional perspective.concrete and comprehensible. and became different from their old forms. first of all reflects the history of Chinese immigration. It helps us understand the social and cultural lives of Chinese immigrants in America.

discuss the interaction between Chinese food and the regional foodways.regions that gave Chinese food different forms in different places. The Globalization of Chinese Food. Wu and Cheung. 219 . Studies on the cultural interaction between a given foreign cuisine and a particular region – how the cultural dynamics of the region shape the foreign food and how the certain food exerts its influence on the cultural life of the people in the place – needs more investigations in the future.


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