The Search for General Tso: A Film Review

The Search for General Tso:  A Documentary Film about Chinese Food in America By Roberta L. Chew (The film trailer was shown in a program about Chinese Food at a Talk Story Event, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2016.)   Director Ian Cheney and a friend were traversing rural America and noticed Chinese American restaurants were just about everywhere, even in out of the way small towns.  They were intrigued by one particular dish, General Tso’s Chicken, which was ubiquitous.  They decided they would explore how…

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Talk Story Review: Foraging for Life, Love and The Perfect Meal

Foraging for Life, Love and The Perfect Meal Author and Urban Forager Ava Chin will discuss her recent publication Eating Wildly.  The book is a kit on foraging for food in New York, but it is much more.  An excerpt from the book reveals, it to be a memoir of family and self searching in a space where food intersects with cultures: ...I often tagged along with my grandparents down the aisles of Chinese supermarkets. ...Grandpa knew the secrets of the dried, reserved goods and…


Talk Story — Made in the USA : Chinese Food in America

 Made in the USA: Chinese Food in America Cedric Yeh and Noriko Sanefuji, curators of Smithsonian's' Sweet Sour Exhibit, explore the history of Chinese Food in America. They point out that there are over 41,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States.  Understanding how Chinese food developed from an immigrant-only taste to become as ubiquitous as the fast food hamburger and hard shell taco tells much about the history of migrant communities and the American society that took them in at times and discriminated against them…


World Journal Report on Through Chinatown’s Eyes

Through Chinatown's Eyes: April 1968 by Feng Zhaoying, World Journal 透過中國城的眼睛 探討認同危機 記者馮兆音╱華府報導 May 2, 2015, 6:00 am 透過中國城的眼睛」採訪的歷史見證者在放映後舉辦討論會,討論多年來華裔的認同危機和華府中國城的歷史演變。(記者馮兆音/攝影) 紀錄片「透過中國城的眼睛」日前在中國城社區教堂公開放映,李劉曼斯(後右三)、毛遠珉(後右四)和與會者合影。(記者馮兆音/攝影) 巴爾的摩騷亂尚未平息,打砸搶燒的場景猶如1968年暴動歷史重演。美國民權運動領袖金恩(Martin Luther King)當年遇刺身亡,撼動全美,引爆華府在內的多個城市連日暴動。記錄這段歷史的資料浩如煙海,卻鮮有從華裔美國人的角度,以口述歷史方式呈現事件原貌。紀錄片「透過中國城的眼睛(Through Chinatown Eyes)」採訪十幾名當年親歷暴動的華人,日前在中國城社區教堂首次公開放映。影片製作團隊及多名歷史見證者,將在放映後舉辦討論會,討論多年來華裔的認同危機和華府中國城的歷史演變。 1968年4月4日金恩被刺,華府爆發長達五日暴動,波及中國城區域,有華人商鋪被打砸搶燒。片中描述,華裔家庭經營的商鋪暫時關門,因催淚彈煙霧瀰漫全街,全家只能躲在地下室豎起耳朵聽外面聲響,無法踏出店外。有的華人在店面玻璃窗上寫上支持非裔的「靈魂兄弟」(soul bros)字樣,躲過被砸被燒的大劫;有的卻沒那麼幸運,店鋪被破門而入、毀於一炬。這場暴動因而成為不少華人搬離華府、移居城郊的催化劑,是中國城演變的歷史轉捩點。   然而總的來說,68年暴動過後,華裔和非裔間的關係並未變得緊張,因不少華人子弟在非裔為主的學校上課,同為少數族裔的華人,也較能理解非裔的訴求。   導演李劉曼斯(Penny Lee)及編劇毛遠珉(Lisa Mao),以近半年的時間完成這部25分鐘的影片,其中不僅探討暴動本身,還觸及華人身分認同的議題。 紀錄上一個遷入華府的華裔居民,在1851年搬到賓州大道,即中國城發祥地。以台山人為主的華裔移民,在20世紀初陸續從西岸或太平洋彼岸搬到華府,中國城則因國家廣場建設,搬到如今的H街和第七街附近區域。雖然華裔居民漸漸增加,華府人口組成依以白人和非裔為主。1960年,拉丁裔、亞裔及其他種族人口,在華府只占2%。 卡在白人和非裔中間,華裔常有置身其外之感(the sense of otherness)。從60年代就住在華府的曹元超說,華裔當時是「少數族裔中的少數」,他小時候曾被白人和非裔開帶歧視性的玩笑。「那時寧願變成白人或黑人,背後能有強大的族群。」他認為,直到李小龍以功夫巨星之姿,在全美造成一股旋風,華裔得到的尊重才日漸提升。 近期佛格森、巴爾的摩騷亂,再次揭開美國族群分裂的傷疤,「透過中國城的眼睛」中記錄的歷史重演,該片團隊感歎,美國社會改變了許多,但又有許多從未變遷,黑白族群對立仍十分嚴重。 華府中國城的萎縮式微,也讓在場的中國城老居民不勝唏噓。曹元超擔憂地說:「家庭主營的中式小店,都被掛上中文招牌的連鎖快餐店取代,住在中國城低保房的華裔耆老,每個周末要租大巴專程去華人超市買菜。這個中國城,還跟中國有什麼關係?」 要保存華府中國城的「中國味」,傳承中華文化、凝聚華裔社區力量至關重要。以此為目標的口述歷史系列講座每月舉辦一次,並接受捐款支持,詳情可電郵主辦人江權活。  


Panama Hotel – Asian American Authenticity in a Bitter Sweet Story

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Stan Lou, (first posted April 2, 2012)   When I first read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, written by Jamie Ford, I immediately placed in on my personal list of favorite novels.  It is a beautifully written story, and it can easily be categorized as a rather typical love story set in America, with the usual emotions from the characters.  However, the novel moves beyond that stereotype and relates a complex story that…


Chinese in the South and in the Confederacy

Chinese in the South and in the Confederacy by Roberta Chew. September 29, 2015 The 1882 Foundation with the Alexandria Black History Museum hosted activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (Hart-Celler Act) and the Civil Rights Movement. The activities sought to highlight instances where ethnic American histories overlapped.  Ted Alexandria, National Park Historian at the Antietam National Battlefield, provided these comments: Most don’t know that a few hundred Asians served the Union cause in the Civil War.  Even…