Showing category "Chinese food" (Show all posts)

The Chop Suey Mystique

Posted by John Jung on Monday, December 1, 2014, In : Chinese food 
Chop Suey: Its Rise and Fall

In 1898, China Viceroy Li Huang Chang came to the U. S. on a diplomatic mission.  In New York and Philadelphia  he was feted and  large crowds welcomed him like a conquering hero.  It was during this trip that the story that one evening the diplomat wanted Chinese food instead of the typical American banquet fare.  Legend has it that a Chinese chef had to improvise since he was given short notice so he could only toss together left over vegetable cuttings from the ...

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Chinese Food For The Uninitiated Masses

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, In : Chinese food 
In the early 20th century when there was a growing popularity of chop suey and chow mein among Americans, two enterprising University of Michigan students,Wally Smith and Ilhan New, neither of whom were Chinese, hit upon the idea of creating and mass marketing a line of prepackaged Chinese foods.  Thus,  La Choy, a coined name to generate the feeling that the foods were ‘oriental’ was born in 1922.   Wally Smith, owner of a  grocery store in Detroit  wanted to sell fresh bean sprou...

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Chinese in Italy

Posted by John Jung on Tuesday, October 7, 2014, In : Chinese food 
Chinese immigration to Italy has increased dramatically over the past decade or two.  As in other places, culture clashes sometimes occur and Chinese and Italians experience similar problems.  Award winning journalist Suzanne Ma, a Chinese Canadian, who has a novel "Meet Me in Venice" coming out in February 2015, presents a charming and insightful talk about the negative feelings toward the influx of Chinese, and their food, in Italy.

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Chop Suey Sandwich, Anyone?

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, In : Chinese food 
Chop suey was once the rage for diners across the land but has long fallen out of favor.  A sandwich 'variant,'  however, that was found in parts of New England still seems to be a regional favorite, along with its cousin, the chow mein sandwich.


 
According to Wikipedia,
"
Originating in Fall River, Massachusetts, in the 1930s or 1940s, the chow mein sandwich, which typically consists of a hamburger-style bun with a brown gravy-based chow mein mixture placed between and served hot, is popular o...

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What Chinese Restaurant Families Ate But Left Off Their Menus

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, In : Chinese food 
Chinese families in the restaurant business had their favorite dishes that they didn't dare put on the menu if most of their patrons were not Chinese.  Think of it as Chinese 'soul food,' delicious but unassuming dishes that were popular back in the Guangdong villages from where most of the early Chinese immigrants came from.

Ralph Young grew up working in his family restaurant in California and recalls:

My dad liked to cook pig stomachs.  He would take out the thick portions first; tho...


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Chinese Food Authenticity As Flexible, Not Fixed

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, July 18, 2012, In : Chinese food 
      Aficionados of Chinese, or for that matter, any cuisine obsess over the authenticity of a dish, as if this aspect was a guarantee of its gustatory delight.  Authenticity is revered as an inherent and immutable property of a dish. Yet.just as any language is not pure or fixed, but forever changing, such is true for food. 
      The studies of Chinese food in America by historian Haiming Liu provide an excellent illustration of what he calls 'flexible authenticity.' He notes that in the 19...

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"Genuine American Chop Suey Served Here"

Posted by John Jung on Monday, July 2, 2012, In : Chinese food 
      Considered by some to be the Julia Child of Chinese cookbooks, Grace Zia Chu was a pioneer Chinese cooking teacher and cookbook writer with her 1962 "Pleasures of Chinese Cooking" and 1975 "Madame Chu's Chinese Cooking School."  She died in 1999 at the ripe age of 99 but not without making a significant impact on the way Americans understood and appreciated the cooking of Chinese food.
      She will be also remembered for a much less important but nonetheless amusing tidbit.  She claime...
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Chop Suey and Issue of Authenticity Again

Posted by John Jung on Monday, June 4, 2012, In : Chinese food 
     
    Historian Charles. W. Hayford published a wonderful article that discussed the place of chop suey in the history of Chinese restaurant fare.   Although widely disparaged as not being authentic, Haywood points out it is "authentic" as American-Chinese food.

   On the overemphasis on authenticity, he notes that he has on occasion had dreary (but authentic) Peking duck in China while enjoying 
excellent (but inauthentic) sweet and sour pork in the U. S. He shared an amusing incident on a ...

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Chop Suey in Samoa!

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, In : Chinese food 
            Helen Wong, of Auckland, New Zealand, has been one of my faithful correspondents for several years. Since she is a dedicated poster of information from all over the world about the Overseas Chinese, about a year ago I asked her whether chop suey was as popular down under as it used to be in North America. She observed:
           Up to the 1960s most people ate at home... In the early 70s, some Chinese men arrived here, and started Hong Kong Style takeaways. There were some restaur...

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Chinese Food And Korea

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, February 9, 2012, In : Chinese food 

       Young-Kyun Yang, a Korean anthropologist, has studied the place of Chinese food in Korea.  In one paper published in the Korea Journal, he noted that "Chinese restaurants opened in Korea from the late 19th century to provide mostly male Chinese-Koreans with very simple food. Chinese foods were cooked, sold, and consumed exclusively by Chinese-Koreans until the 1940's. In the 1950's and 1960's, although the Chinese dominated the business, the food became a representative food for dini...


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About Me


John Jung After retiring from a 40-year career as a psychology professor, I published 4 books about Chinese immigrants that detail the history of their laundries, grocery stores, and family restaurants in the U. S. and Canada.
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