The essays in the book fill gaps in the existing food studies literature by revealing and contextualizing the hidden, local histories of Chinese and Japanese restaurants in the United States. The writers of these essays show how the taste and presentation of Chinese and Japanese dishes have evolved in sweat and hardship over generations of immigrants who became restaurant owners, chefs, and laborers in the small towns and large cities of America.
These vivid, detailed, and sometimes emotional portrayals reveal the survival strategies deployed in Asian restaurant kitchens over the past 150 years and the impact these restaurants have had on the culture, politics, and foodways of the United States.
Some of these authors are family members of restaurant owners or chefs, writing with a passion and richness that can only come from personal investment, while others are academic writers who have painstakingly mined decades of archival data to reconstruct the past. Still others offer a fresh look at the amazing continuity and domination of the “evil Chinaman” stereotype in the “foreign” world of American Chinatown restaurants.
The essays include insights from a variety of disciplines, including history, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, economics, phenomenology, journalism, food studies, and film and literary criticism.
“Chop Suey and Sushi from Sea to Shining Sea” not only complements the existing scholarship and exposes the work that still needs to be done in this field, but also underscores the unique and innovative approaches that can be taken in the field of American food studies.
Co-sponsored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and the Little Tokyo Historical Society.
Cost: $10 per person, which includes food and drinks. RSVP to Mike Okamura at Littletokyohs@gmail.com.