A Literary Feast

Posts by Allison E. Jones

A Truly American Cuisine: Act 3

Posted on March 18th, 2011

(the final chapter in our 3 Part Series. Find Parts 1 and 2 here, respectively.)

By the Second Word War, more than half the Chinese population of the United States was born on American soil – or, you know, in American hospitals (as soil births were becoming more and more rare). The Magnuson Act of 1943 ended legal Chinese exclusion and allowed Chinese residents to become American citizens, and the War Brides Act of 1947 brought over six thousand brides of Chinese American soldiers – which I like to imagine involved a cruise ship filled with beautiful Chinese women in couture wedding gowns.

A Truly American Cuisine: Act 2

Posted on March 17th, 2011

At first, Chinese laborers were viewed as super clean, quiet, and hard-working, but as the San Francisco Chinatown and San Francisco itself developed in the 1860’s, the “Anti-Coolie” movement popped up like an angry red pimple on a greasy white forehead. When anti-Chinese jerks tried to rally antagonism against the Chinese communities on the West Coast, the Chinese diet was brought up as evidence of the dangers of allowing Chinese laborers to work outside of the (often demoralizing) service industries. The most ridiculous – and most widespread – of these attacks was Samuel Gomper’s pamphlet “Meat vs Rice, American Manhood Against Chinese Coolieism—which shall survive?”

A Truly American Cuisine: Act 1

Posted on March 14th, 2011

My first encounter with Chinese food was at a Tasty Goody in Upland, California, a fast food joint in a treeless strip mall off of Route 66. I must have been around four years old, kicking my light-up sneakers against the legs of the red plastic table and staring down a Styrofoam container of iodine-orange Sesame Chicken. I assessed the glop in front of me and realized that the dish was basically Chicken McNuggets in sweet and sour sauce, except with more sugar than anything I usually got to eat for lunch. Obviously, I decided it was the BEST THING EVER.