Interesting LA Weekly Article On White Chefs Cooking Ethnic Foods

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Good piece.

I’ll be honest I am kinda disappointed in OP/David Chan’s statements.

I been eating Chinese all my life.
Yes there is junk Chinese food.

I can only speak for my family and family friends…

Most of you and the general public will be disappointed in what we eat for a typical dinner.

It is MOSTLY vegetable and rice based. There is very little meat.

-Some type of bone soup with root veggies, maybe some greens.
-Always a plate of greens, sometimes more than 1 dish.
-2-3 dishes, mostly made up of vegetables. Quick pickled, steamed, or stir fry.
-Meat…quickly stir fry with more veggies, or braised.
-Steam whole fish, twice a week usually.
-Dessert is always fruit.

There is so much variation/regional differences, but I would say most of the Chinese families I know, eat a big vegetable based diet. Desserts/snacks are almost always fresh fruit.

What we eat in restaurants is a different story, but almost always we include veggies.

I think Mr Chan had an opportunity to dispel some views on Chinese food.


That whole 20 year thing…

Plenty of places in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing, etc who are still doing amazing food for decades without changing anything.

That statement seems to really only apply to Dim Sum halls. (And speaking of health, most of you eat like pigs at Dim Sum in the eyes of Cantonese people, people treat it like a YOLO buffet instead of drinking tea/chatting and having a few plates. Portion control, which imo my Canto peeps have down)


Food is linked to our spiritual beliefs i n concepts like balance, hot/cold energy, and again eating more veggies/fruit.


We have no problem fat shaming relatives and friends. But at the same time Aunties and Grandmas encourage you to eat more. LOL


Look at all the Po Po’s and Yeh Yeh’s in Chinatown and SGV. Nobody is on a motor scooter with 40 inch cankles, 30 inch fatcep arms, and FUPA’s ('Merica!!!). You know what they eat mostly? Take a guess.


I don’t have a problem with the chefs cooking another culture food.

I am more upset at their customers. Who suddenly discover this, or who never venture into a neighborhood/area which had the same food but now they visit the neighborhood but only for the new places.


“Why you so skinny?”
“Your wife don’t feed you?”
“You need to eat more!”

5 years later

“Oh my god you so fat”
“You need to exercise or your legs look like tofu”


Did you read Frank Shyong’s LA Times article on trying to find healthy Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley? I think he found two or three. I do agree that there are fewer obese older Chinese people. I think that’s attributable to eating fewer slabs of whole meat, consuming less alcohol and sugar and not eating excessively. But you don’t necessarily measure fitness by weight alone. Among older Chinese there is a high incidence of diabetes and pre-diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to which the Chinese diet is a major contributor.


yup. not just older chinese.

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I’d be more interested in an article titled: When Chinese Guys Cook Haute European, Results Will Vary


Interesting article, indeed.

I like to think of myself as being sensitive to culture, privilege, and micro-aggressions. But I have to admit that a statement like this

“Have respect for the history and heritage — especially when you’re a privileged person cooking a cuisine of a historically oppressed people,” Mistry told the East Bay Express.

is confusing to me. What exactly would “respectful” cooking look like in this context? I don’t think Person X (regardless of race) should say that they “invented” food from Culture Y. I don’t think Person X should say that they “discovered” food from Culture Y. And I really hate the “cutesy” names (like the “Typhoon Shelter” mentioned above).

But, other than those things, I have a difficult time understanding how someone cooking food from a culture that isn’t their “own” could be disrespectful. Isn’t a curiosity about the world around us a good thing?


Making a Jewish cheeseburger? A bistecca alla fiorentina for a Hindu?

Thank you for posting that

I actually cut out 80% of my white rice intake after reading that article

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My parents said “don’t get too big or your legs will look like daikon.” :joy:


Yep… That’s my beloved aunt Yachi (Japanese). The first thing she says when we come thru the door is “You kids hungry?” Then to the females “You fix your man plate” (except she doesn’t say plate). There is so much food that I don’t eat before going to her house. But she’s also quick to point out if you put on some lbs. One of her top 10 moments: Her granddaughter is saying goodbye to everyone at a party, auntie waits until she is almost out the door and says loud as can be “Isn’t my granddaughter fat!” :flushed:

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Is this sort of like Elvis, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones - I could go on - making millions off a sound invented by Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed et al? What are you gonna’ do? If it sounds good and tastes good then…

Not sure if you’re simply trying to be funny/witty, but that’s not what the article is really asking, right? Is, let’s say, a Persian chef cooking a bistecca alla fiorentina w/ an Indian spice rub and serving it to ANYONE disrespectful?

Can one really co-opt flavors?

perhaps the best thing to be said is that it may prompt useful dialogue, but there are so many different variables that making any sort of blanket statement will most likely result in a substantial number of exceptions to be found.

having said that, i do consider it appropriate to observe that there’s a difference between a fusion which tries to respect the cultures involved and an assimilation which imposes one culture’s values obliterating the other’s;. ipsedixit’s jewish cheeseburger (orthodoxy forbids the mix of meat and dairy) might be used as an example. and it’s my take that america is by and large a land where assimilation is embedded in the culture as a practice and those who don’t grasp that won’t understand the objections, even though the rest of the world in general seems to be embracing tribalism; what was once russia is now a bunch of -stans (and others) each embracing their distinct cultural differences. what was once yugoslavia is now what, six different countries? quebec is still hoping for the right moment to split from canada. the UK survived a secessionist vote, but expect another since scotland voted to remain in the EU during the brexit vote.

i find it ironic that in the US certain voters who didn’t get their way who are/were advocating some sort of split here might be equally passionate over the idea of disrespecting some other culture’s values in cuisine. it is what it is.

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Speaking of white guys, Andy Ricker has some thoughts.

I don’t mind at all if white chefs cook “ethnic” foods. There isn’t one cuisine in the world that has not been influenced by ingredients or cooking methods from other cuisines.

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Perhaps, but even if we were to focus just on flavors one would have to admit that ingredients more often than not provide the baseline flavor profile of a dish, with spices and seasonings building upon that baseline.

My point was merely that without being aware of cultural nuances you run the risk of doing a disservice to the culinary fabric of a particular ethnic (or religious) group.

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