Eating Chinese

Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada

LILY CHO
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttqmr
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  • Book Info
    Eating Chinese
    Book Description:

    InEating Chinese, Lily Cho examines Chinese restaurants as spaces that define, for those both inside and outside the community, what it means to be Chinese and what it means to be Chinese-Canadian.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8647-2
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    The sidewalk ends at the N.D. Café. Clumps of prairie grass sprout up along the edge of the sidewalk separating it from the unpaved road in front. A single street lamp towers above the café a short distance past the end of the sidewalk. Obviously, nobody walks here anymore, but people might drive by on their way to somewhere else. The café itself is a one-storey building with a small addition (kitchen? living quarters?) jutting out of one side. The front windows have all been broken and are now draped with plastic. Someone must still care about the building. The...

  6. Chapter One Sweet and Sour: Historical Presence and Diasporic Agency
    (pp. 20-43)

    Sweet and sour pork is one thing in English. In Cantonese it tells a very different story. This chapter is a meditation on the significance of that difference. Thinking about the story of the naming of sweet and sour pork in Cantonese I came to questions about the relationship between postcolonial and diaspora studies, and the question of agency. These questions brought me to another story of food and naming that is set in nineteenth-century Hong Kong. Through two stories of food and rumour, this chapter is concerned with the problem of reading for agency not just in the slenderness...

  7. Chapter Two On the Menu: Time and Chinese Restaurant Counterculture
    (pp. 44-79)

    Almost nobody does it anymore. If you take the slower road south down the middle of Alberta from Edmonton to Calgary, following the old rail line, you will cut across Main Street, Olds, Alberta, where you might stop for lunch at the A & J Family Restaurant (figure 3). In 1915 you would have stepped across the railway platform (the railway stopped running a long time ago but the station is still there, empty and abandoned) and ordered a hot lunch at what was then known simply as the Public Lunch Counter (figure 4).

    There is a long history to the...

  8. Chapter Three Disappearing Chinese Café: White Nostalgia and the Public Sphere
    (pp. 80-108)

    When I first began my research for this book, I was surprised by how much these restaurants meant to the people who frequented them. Small town Chinese restaurants were de facto community centres and gathering places when there was no other place to go. They were the places people went to for their morning coffee, or after the hockey game, or for a first date, or for sodas after school. The people who frequented them were not just customers, diners, or regulars. They were very much a part of the restaurant. As documentary filmmaker Cheuk Kwan discovered of ‘Noisy’ Jim...

  9. Chapter Four Diasporic Counterpublics: The Chinese Restaurant as Institution and Installation
    (pp. 109-130)

    You walk in and consider sitting down at one of the orange Naughahyde booths, but then the shiny counter catches your eye. You will see a row of stools in front of it. Behind the counter, there is an old cash register, shelves neatly stacked with an assortment of teas and candy bars. The coffee machine is plugged in. A mixture of elaborate paper lantern–style lights and bright fluorescent tubes illuminates the space. There is a glass jar filled with fortune-cookie fortunes. Everything feels a bit too familiar, right but not quite right. You are not sure if you...

  10. Chapter Five ‘How taste remembers life’: Diaspora and the Memories That Bind
    (pp. 131-156)

    This chapter takes up Fred Wah’s embrace of the connection between taste and memory, and the idea that the body can experience something that extends beyond the boundaries of the individual subject. Diasporas are collectivities by definition. And yet, it is not clear what binds those in these collectivities. In the previous chapter, I examined how people in diaspora assert a sense of their presence in the spaces of arrival through diasporic counterpublics and how they forge relationships between diasporic and non-diasporic communities. In this chapter, I want to look at what it is that ties one person in diaspora...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-166)

    Before the modern restaurant became a restaurant, it was an object rather than a place. It was a bowl of soup, a restorative broth,un restaurant. In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France, it was a highly condensed bouillon served in small cups to those who deemed themselves too delicate to digest meats and vegetables, preferring instead these ‘essences’ of chicken, beef, and so on. While the story of the European restaurant’s transformation from ‘miniature soup-cup to Rabelaisian excess, from sensibility to politics’ is a story told elsewhere (Spang 3),¹ in a book about small town Chinese restaurants it seems fitting then...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 167-188)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 189-202)
  14. Index
    (pp. 203-208)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-210)