Monday, August 02, 2004

With 6 you get chun jüan

via Fark, an article that elaborates on the themes of this post.

"A Guide to Chinese Takeout Menus",, 2004 July 31.
"You say millions of Americans are familiar with our ancestor?" [says Zuo Kuanxun, the great-great-great grandson of General Zuo Zongtang; to Westerners, he is known from Chinese restaurant menus as General Tso.]
Chinese food in the United States is full of such anomalies. Dishes that Americans consider takeout-joint stalwarts leave mainland Chinese scratching their heads.
Why the differences? The Chinese food that first made an impression on Americans came from the south, because the earliest immigrants to the United States were Cantonese, from around Guangzhou near Hong Kong. [For the same reasons, Punjabi cuisine has come to represent Indian food to many Westerners.] Their less spicy cuisine became the standard for a generation of chow mein houses.
There are other sources of difference between Chinese food on the mainland and in the West.
  • Adapting to both the Western palate and the Western pantry
  • Few, if any, among the earliest Chinese immigrants to the West were professional cooks.
  • The Cultural Revolution, an attempt by the the communist regime to systematically eradicate Chinese traditional culture, including cuisine.
Can't forget my favorite line from the article.
"A Confucian saying inside a cookie? I've never heard of it, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea," says Chen Huanshun, a cooking teacher at the Beijing Economic and Trade Senior Technical School. "But," he sniffs, "putting a piece of paper inside a baked good doesn't sound too sanitary."
UPDATE: godless of Gene Expression fisks a piece of egregiously blatant propaganda that somehow made its way onto the front page of the Sunday New York Times. Now, I read and enjoy the Times (I go straight for the Arts & Leisure) and am pretty forgiving of media bias, mostly because I expect it rather than go apopleptic when it prints or broadcasts something I disagree with. However, this article is unforgivably dismissive of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. godless is encouraging incensed Gene Expression readers to send complaints to Daniel Okrent, the Times' "public editor", effectively an ombudsman.

How about that? An Indian taking the Left to task for its atrocities in China and a Chinese who takes the Islamic world to task for its atrocities in India. Kind of like a bloggy Harold and Kumar. (Yes I know Harold's Korean.) Speaking of which, see it, but make sure to bring a bud. Or several.