Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America. YONG CHEN question that unavoidably arises from the ubiquity of Chinese food in the United States. Chen (History/Univ. of California, Irvine; Chinese San Francisco, A Trans-Pacific Community, ) shows how enterprising. Two new books, one by Yong Chen and the other by Q. Edward Wang, trace the evolution of Chinese foodways over time and place.
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Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America by Yong Chen
Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Usq Page. American diners began flocking to Chinese restaurants more than a century ago, making Chinese cuisine the first mass-consumed food in the United States.
Byit had become the country’s most popular ethnic cuisine. Chop Suey, USA is the first comprehensive analysis of the forces that made Chinese food ubiquitous in the American gastronomic landscape and turned the coun American diners began flocking to Chinese restaurants more than a century ago, making Chinese cuisine the suye mass-consumed food in the United States. Chop Suey, USA is the first comprehensive analysis of the forces that made Hcop food ubiquitous in the American gastronomic landscape and turned the country into an empire of consumption.
Chinese food’s transpacific migration and commercial success is both an epic story of global cultural exchange and a history of the socioeconomic, political, and cultural developments that shaped the American appetite for fast food and cheap labor in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Americans fell hcen love with Chinese chne not because of its gastronomic excellence.
They chose quick and simple dishes like chop suey over China’s haute cuisine, and the affordability of such Chinese food democratized the once-exclusive dining-out experience for underprivileged groups, such as marginalized Anglos, African Americans, and Jews.
CHOP SUEY, USA by Yong Chen | Kirkus Reviews
The mass production of food in Chinese restaurants also extended the role of Chinese Americans as a virtual service labor force and marked the racialized division of the American population into laborers and consumers.
The rise of Chinese food was also a result of the ingenuity of Chinese American restaurant workers, dhop developed the concept of the open kitchen and popularized the practice of home delivery.
They effectively streamlined certain Chinese dishes, turning them into nationally recognized brand names, including chop suey, the Big Mac of the pre-McDonald’s era. Those who engineered the epic tale of Chinese food were a politically disfranchised, numerically small, and economically exploited group, embodying a classic American yng of immigrant entrepreneurship and perseverance.
Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends suwy of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Jan 20, Nathaniel rated it liked it. This book exemplifies Chinese scholarship in English: Chen’s research is highly impressive, but he often gets bogged down in details that obstruct the flow of the story he’s trying to tell, and the book itself is not nearly as focused as the sua makes it sound.
Still, unlike many books in this category, Chen’s personal interest in his research area and his lack of concern for white intellectual conventions makes for cjen much be This book exemplifies Chinese scholarship in English: Still, unlike many books in this category, Chen’s personal interest in his research area and his lack of concern for white cben conventions makes for a much better presentation than similar works in this mold.
While I did learn some things about the history of Chinese restaurants in America, I think Chen’s most valuable commentaries are based in his underlying thesis that America is a consumption-driven culture based in the ready availability of food. It wasn’t supposed to be the focus of the book, but I found this thesis a lot more interesting – and true cgop than most of the actual history that Chen digs up.
Despite his excellent research, I felt that a lot of the history itself lacked depth; I didn’t come away knowing much more than I’d already learned via Wikipedia many years ago.
There’s also one brief diversion late in the book in which Chen attempts to talk about fast food that should not have been included at all, which seems more to like the product of trying to fit into academia’s clueless social agenda with poor, unscientific sources ranging from Eric Schlosser to PETA. It’s only for a couple of pages, but clashes dramatically with the tone and high-quality research of the rest of the book and is really out of place.
The bottom line is that this is a well-researched book with several interesting ideas on a subject that has been long overlooked. However, the ylng is dense and very academic, so if you’re looking for a casual read rather than a scholarly study based on a theory of American society advanced by an outsider that most Americans might consider heretical, you might be disappointed.
Jan 10, Barron rated it it was ok. Tedious, poorly written, and usey that insightful. A great topic, but reads like an undergraduate research project that contains a lot of good data collection but needs more work on its thesis. Vhop am us that this book exists, but also happy that I am done reading it.
Nov 15, Bookworm rated it liked it. Thought this book would be closer to other books I’ve read in this particular genre that looked at the origins of food like Orange Chicken, the rise of places like Panda Express and why Chinese restaurants are so popular with Jewish people, particularly at times like Christmas.
This book is not quite that although it does address how various groups like Jewish families who eat Chinese food, even if it’s not kosher. Instead, we get the story around the concept of Chines Slightly different take. Instead, we get the story around the concept of Chinese food in the United States. From how immigration restrictions forced Chinese men into particular service jobs like restaurants and laundromats. The perception surrounding Chinese food from eating rats to its supposed health benefits to the rise of “Chinese American” food like egg foo young and the like and how it has changed or not.
The role of Chinese food author Chen posits that it’s actually precursor to the rise of fast food joints like McDonald’s: So it was definitely not quite what I expected but it was slightly different than other books that address this particular topic and I enjoyed it.
That said, it wasn’t an easy read. The topic is interesting in itself and sometimes the author is compelling. But it’s quite academic and dry.
Chen is a professor that probably has a lot to do with it. I do think there’s also a lot more that could be done with some of the topics he discusses.
The perception of Chinese food including addressing racism and xenophobia, the concept of “empire” and how Chinese food no matter how authentic can be found in many places from San Francisco to New Orleans, and the variations they take in between.
The rise of places like Panda Express I think this particular chain only gets one mention in the entire book and what it says about capitalism, commercialism, etc.
Overall I liked it. May 09, Alivia Jones rated it really liked it. In style, essentially a research paper expanded to book length-although significantly more readable than many research papers-this exploration of Chinese food in America traces the historical, political, social, and economic forces that made Chinese restaurants so ubiquitous in the United States today.
On the face of things, the rise of Chinese cuisine in the US was highly improbable; Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries faced harsh immigration laws, racism, and oft In style, essentially a research paper expanded to book length-although significantly more readable than many research papers-this exploration of Chinese food in America traces the historical, political, social, and economic forces that made Chinese restaurants so ubiquitous in the United States today.
On the face of things, the rise of Chinese cuisine in the US was highly improbable; Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries faced harsh immigration laws, racism, and often, permanent separation from their homes and families in China. But Chen masterfully illustrates the connection between America’s expanding “consumer empire,” the consequent demand for luxuries such as cheap food cooked outside the home, and the unique ability of Chinese immigrants to provide excellent, inexpensive meals and service.
However, many typographical errors appeared in this printing-as many as one serious error per page-which detracted from my enjoyment of the book. There are a handful of recipes and graphs, and nearly pages of notes.
Review taken from my Instagram account booktalkback Jul 05, Arlene Mullen rated it liked it. So this book talks about that author coming to america. He talks alot about the rise of Chinese food in the states. Throughout the book recipes are shared. The all look like recipes of food that I grew up eating at restaurants. There was alot of talk about how we america has grown into a country of to much. The book is alot of his research about Chinese and their food in america.
He has recipes here and there. Some are Chinese recipes and some are just some recipes of food that he has come to So this book talks about that author coming to america.
Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America
Some are Chinese recipes and some are just some recipes of food that he has come to love since living here. There are so many books on European and American cuisine and their evolution that this is a refreshing change.
I picked up the book thinking that it would just be about how Chinese food evolved in America. It turned out to be so much more. Well researched and really interesting.
Nov 12, John Jung rated it it was amazing. Chinese food is one of the most popular cuisines, if not the favorite, in the United States today. It would surprise many, however, to learn that this high acceptance did not occur until sometime after the s. From the mid 19th century, Chinese immigrants, and their foods, were viewed with scorn and suye for many decades.
On the contrary, Chen notes that relatively simple and inexpensive dishes such as chop suey and chow mein, not the haute cuisine of shark fins and other delicacies, fueled the growth of Chinese restaurants. Throughout the book, Chen explains how factors other than taste uda Chinese food played important roles in the success of Chinese restaurants.
Relegated initially to feminized or domestic work by racial prejudices, early Chinese immigrants, almost all men, made their living running laundries and then small restaurants. As Chen pointed out, many Chinese who opened restaurants did not actually know how to cook before leaving China, but once here they quickly acquired minimal skills to survive by running a restaurant. Before opening restaurants, some had learned to cook while working as a house servant for white families.
Even though their repertoire would have consisted of American dishes, this experience was yng as the menu of Chinese restaurants in areas where there were few Chinese actually contained mostly American and only a few Chinese dishes. The earliest Chinese restaurants located in the Chinatowns of America were not intended to serve the appetites of non-Chinese customers.
They served dishes which were unappealing to non-Chinese but were popular with Chinese immigrants who lived in or frequented Chinatowns. These cafes not only served their need for familiar foods but also facilitated cultural ties and social contact among Chinese.
When Chinese eventually moved into regions with non-Chinese patrons, mostly from underprivileged groups than from the upper echelons of society, success of their restaurants involved a combination of factors. Growth of the middle class which had a consumption-oriented outlook, especially as the nation moved from a rural to an urban society, suye to an increased demand for restaurants where people who could afford it could cuen others to prepare their meals.
Chinese restaurants succeeded in places across the country cyen there were few, if any, Chinese residents because they had low prices, adapted their recipes to satisfy the palates of non-Chinese, offered delivery and takeout service, had kitchens visible to customers, provided dance floors in the dining room, and promoted their food with good public relations by inviting white civic leaders to banquets. Further promotion of awareness and interest in Chinese food among the general cheen since the s occurred with the proliferation of Chinese cookbooks.
Chop Suey, USA, offers a lively and informed discussion of the role of numerous factors that fostered the development of the Chinese restaurant in America that is thoroughly documented with extensive footnotes and bibliographic citations of popular and scholarly sources. Mar 06, Dhen Miller rated it it was ok Shelves: This book was fine.
The bits about empire were honestly among the most painful reading in terms of shoddy analysis I have read for vhen school thus far, but overall it was informative and a good starting point for thinking about food in a transnational context.
It’s also very accessible in terms of readability I read the entire thing in maybe two hours with a lunch break, so if you’re cgop for that, it’s a good read!
Aug 13, Biblio Files takingadayoff rated it really liked it.