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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Throughout the book recipes are shared. It wasn’t supposed to be the focus of the book, but I found this thesis a lot more interesting – and true – than most of the cgen history that Chen digs up.


I picked up the book thinking that it would just be about how Chinese food evolved in America. I had no idea that the history of Chinese food could be so technical.

There are so many books on European and American cuisine and their evolution that this is a refreshing change. 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.

The persistence and conscientiousness of the Chinese in the US is impressive, cyop considering the racism and other obstacl “Chop Yonh, USA” documents the history of the Chinese in the US in tandem with the emergence of Chinese restaurants as one of the most popular cuisines in the US restaurant scene.

Of most interest to me, as a chef and food lover, are yoong stories of how many of the dishes including the eponymous chop suey came about as adaptations from traditional Chinese dishes to those we know and love in American Chinese cooking.

The role of Chinese food author Chen posits that it’s actually precursor to the rise of fast food joints like McDonald’s: Chinese restaurants succeeded in places across the country where 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.


In explaining the rise of Chinese restaurants, Chen argues uea Chinatown tourism—as a site of both abjection and fascination—set the tone for the Orientalist relationship between white consumers and Chinese laborers that would foreground the nature of Chinese restaurants and their popularity chap.

All those questions have This is a wonderful and interesting study concerning the sua of Chinese-American food. Nov 12, John Jung rated it it was amazing.

Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America by Yong Chen

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 looking for that, it’s a good read!

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. Laura rated it really liked it Apr 19, The topic is interesting in itself and sometimes the author is compelling. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

Jodi rated it liked it Jul 26, At the same time, it’s a little dry. Jun 13, Teresa rated it liked it Shelves: From the mid 19th century, Chinese immigrants, and their foods, were viewed yont scorn and ridicule for siey decades. The bits about empire were honestly among the most painful reading in terms of shoddy analysis I have read for grad school thus far, but overall it was informative and a good starting point for thinking about food in a transnational context.

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Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America

Close mobile search navigation Article navigation. Even low-income households could afford a Chinese servant, who learned to cook American fare, relieving the skey of kitchen duties. In clear, warm prose, Yong Chen offers a broad and welcoming look into the modern history of Chinese food in the United States.

Further promotion of awareness and interest in Chinese food among the general population since the s occurred with the proliferation of Chinese cookbooks. He has recipes here and there. Why is it so popular?

Aug 13, Biblio Files takingadayoff rated it really liked it. A very good read!

Purchase Subscription prices and ordering Short-term Access To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. He wrote from his heart, which makes a humane and happy book.

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CHOP SUEY, USA by Yong Chen | Kirkus Reviews

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Instead, we get the story around the concept of Chines Slightly different take. The book concludes with a Overall I liked it. Seuy already have an Oxford Academic account?

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.

Book titles Isa Journal titles. Chen explores the history of Chinese food in America while Wang examines the emergence and spread of chopstick culture in Asia and beyond.