For someone who never ate in a Chinese restaurant until he was 15, mainly because he grew up in the 1940s in a place where not a single Chinese restaurant existed for over a 100 miles, it is odd that I would find myself writing about this ubiquitous and widely popular 'institution' for eating all across the world.
    Had it not been for the fact that a retired Chinese restaurateur in attendance at a talk I was giving about Mississippi Delta Chinese grocery store families approached me afterward to suggest that I consider writing a book on the topic, I doubt that I would have ever undertaken the project.  However, as I pondered whether I could manage to write a useful book on the topic, I came to realize that such a book would fit in well with my other Chinese American history books which focused on the lives of early Chinese immigrants engaged in the few forms of self-employment that white society permitted: laundries, grocery stores, and restaurants.  My aim in these books has been to document the history of these endeavors through the eyes and voices of these families.  Thus, I am interested mainly in a psychological approach to this history rather than a chronology of dates and places.