Dear Fake Chinese Food
Dear Fake Chinese Food,
I've been seeing you around town quite a lot recently, particularly in food courts and restaurants. I mean no offense in calling you fake, but the truth is that slapping on loosely related "Chinese words" onto another word doesn't mean it is Chinese, nor is it accurate most of the time, as we all know that pandas don't move fast and this does not give you "express" food. Plus, you have a terrible naming system: Chinese thing + adjective. Golden Dragon, Lucky Panda, etc... It's not creative, nor is it good-sounding. Why not try something else?
Now, I want to talk to you about my primary complaint, being that you are not actually "Chinese." I wouldn't say I am an expert, but I can say that "Sichuan chicken" and "Hunan beef" do not exist, as 1) people in Sichuan have over a hundred ways of making chicken, rendering it impossible to generalize, and 2) putting sweet and sour sauce on fried chicken and beef is not a practice that is found anywhere but America. I am tired of your bootlegging, Fake Chinese Food. You have ruined the definition of "Chinese" in culinary arts in America with your fried sweet and sour chicken, beef, and pork (excluding lamb, for some reason). You have cheated countless dollars off of unsuspecting customers looking for the real deal who were not able to tell by the restaurant name. You have generalized the Chinese cuisine with over hundreds of thousands of dishes into the menu that every fake Chinese food restaurant shares.
But no, you won't stop. You never will. You have invaded and are now seeping deep into American culture. Even my school cafeteria has been influenced. They have learned the ol' "sweet sauce" and "fried rice" trick, even though the chicken was clearly popcorn chicken before the sweet bath, and the rice was never fried, but only dipped in soy sauce. You will continue doing so until you either drain our wallets, or we find out your dirty trick.
Author: Kevin Liu
Editor: Claire Cao
Editor's note: This piece was written by one of my best friends, Kevin. He is no longer with us on this earth, so I thought I'd share this little piece that so perfectly encompasses his humor and cleverness. We had joked about fake Chinese food so many times over the years! Might I also mention that English was his second language, and that he had only been studying in America for a few years before he wrote this? Simply... wow.
Kevin, I am humbled to have known you. You will always represent the very best of the Asian-American community. I hope you're enjoying some real Chinese food up there in heaven.
See you again someday,
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