Monthly Archives: April 2016

Noodle Narrative- Katie Miliziano

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When interviewing my grandmother about pasta, family, cultural identity, and tradition emerged as the three primary themes around which the conversation revolved. Italian culture is highly influential, proudly retained by immigrants in the United States and their descendants. The family meal is the central motif of Italian life, as I can attest from personal experience. However, in the United States, an industrially busy and occupied environment does come into conflict with traditional forms.

Noodles have had a profound impact on my grandmother culturally. From the early age of 4 or 5 years old, she grew up in her household spectating the kitchen, even participating on occasions in the preparation of pasta. The art of cooking was passed down from her own grandmothers, who would teach the children a few things like preparing and pouring the sauce or using the pasta maker. These acts clearly defined Katie’s cultural identity, considering how she now cooks for her family and taught me how to make manicotti.

She responded to the pasta invention debate by saying she hopes to believe Italians were the inventors. This demonstrates a pride in her culture. Based on her tone and use of words I think it’s most likely that she doesn’t fully claim that Italians invented pasta. She doesn’t reject the idea that other places like China or the Middle East could have started it, but she does show more confidence in Italy’s development of variety among noodles, something that seems much more agreed upon in the circle of our class’ field. The visual appeals of pasta therefore come out as a notable property. She mentions that pasta is just part of being Italian. To her, there is no clear distinction—the noodle (and all its shapes) is one and the same with all aspects of Italy’s identity.

Italian kitchen are lush with homely and inviting decoration; they have their chef’s personality, and oftentimes the décor is very family-oriented, displaying appreciation for good food, laughter, and community. Pasta is the centerpiece; it becomes automatically associated with the family gathering. No matter what other dishes it is served along with—eggplant, crusted chicken, sausage, main course or supplement—pasta, in any of its shapes and forms, will be present. Even on a grander scale, going into family picnics and holidays wherein family from all over get to reunite, pasta sits on the overfilled tables-slash-counters among the other samplings. Pasta salad, linguine, bowtie, Alfredo, tomato, penne, manicotti, spaghetti, ziti, lasagna—we have it all.

From her answers, and real life experience, there is no doubt that family is the primary mode of Italian identity, an identity which is passed down to pasta. These dishes serve as gathering spaces at the family table. A time to talk, twirl tines and enjoy the time they have together. Even when crossing to America the tradition is held onto, albeit not as strongly as in the past or back in Italy. This is likely due to a factor of American industriousness, work not allowing the time for gallant and routine family congregations. I have felt this conflict before: my grandparents have always fought hard to maintain connections between everyone in the family; but even so, we have had to miss weekends at their home due to busy schedules. Over time, certain members of the family have branched out from our Florida space, including young adults like me going off to college.

Ingredients and preparation—Nana mentions that in Italy ingredients are much fresher. She also points out the rule of ‘al dente’ which is followed less rigorously in the States. So when she prepares meals over here, she is working with these American constituents. “Not just spaghetti and meatballs”—aware of American social expectations of Italian food and hints at an American lack of awareness of the reality: that Italian cuisine encompasses many shapes and tastes. I find it funny that a big part of my grandparents’ lives—their engagement—happened outside of a McDonald’s.

The conversation, throughout the whole interview, always revolved around family. I think this is because to Italians like my grandmother there really is no greater factor of life than family. Food such as pasta is the agent that brings family together, making it an invaluable piece of culture. This Italian drive for visual appeal, variety, and freshness come to life in their pasta dishes.

 

Noodle Narrative- Karachi

Brook Peters

190

4/20/16                                                                       Noodle Narrative

 

Through this noodle narrative process, I was really able to find in depth the cultural and political ties that food and noodles were able to hold to individuals and also cultural groups at large. The ties I found connected with food were religious, political, cultural, and transitional methods that created food experiences that individuals know and learn as they grow up and experience while they become citizens of the world.

When I interviewed Rumi Habib, an international student from Karachi, Pakistan I did not know what to expect. What I got was a time to learn about a culture much different from my own. The affect that food has on these themes cannot and should not be left unexpressed in its importance. It is a way of life, a method of teaching history, and of course- delicious.

Food is a cultural icon of any country, state, or identity. From everything to hot dogs and hamburgers on forth of July, to the equivocal relation of movies and popcorn. Food permeates so many different aspects of life that it defines certain experiences and links themselves along with those memories and activities. Everyone has sensory experiences with memories linked to food, for me it is my grandmother’s chicken, for others it may be the smell of spices, oils, or cooking methods. Rumi recounts his experience with the heavily spiced food of his home “Pakistani cuisine is really intense in terms of like, flavors. So like after a while you start to miss that.” Daal, brianni, nihari, and haleem are all typical foods that he would consume.

“The relationship between eating and a food culture is bi-directional. Just like the foods available in a population’s historical environment, the caloric needs associated with its climate and lifestyle (e.g., the need for hearty diets in cold weather), and the food conservation challenges associated with prevalent temperatures (leading to the development of cultural practices like the curing of meat with salt, and taboos against foods, e.g. pork, most likely to spoil in the dominant climate), to take but a few examples, have shaped its food culture, and thus culture as a whole, other aspects of its cultural make-up are expressed and enacted in the preparation and consumption of food, and especially in the social rituals associated with the consumption of food. So food culture both shapes and is shaped by culture as a whole. Humans typically eat food in social settings, and so common eating becomes the locus of much cultural transmission and re-enactment.” (Stanford University, Food and Culture chapter (Monin & Szczurek, 2014).

A lot of spices were used for the first time because of the East India Trading company, having it be a large export of the entire Indian subcontinent during its economic rule. The whole shape of Pakistani and Indian cuisine can be found within these spices. Masala is a key interpretation of the blend of spices that can be found in food of south Asia. Masala as Rumi later explained to me was a dish derived from many spices, the chief would sit in front of the meal as they prepared it and create a blend much like a painter would create colors on a palate. The cultural bonds that cooking has in the Indian subcontinent is deeply rooted in these flavors and overall are so unique in flavor.

The relationship with food and philosophy are very tightly held, it is able to create divisions and show the outlook that people have on morality, ethics, conventions, and relationships, this is from cooking and more specifically eating being socially bonded. In Karachi food is a communal experience that has a deep reverence within family ties. Religion especially in the Abrahamic faiths always have an adjoining belief in the importance of family and interpersonal relationships. Religion in Pakistan is a incredible divider among people and communities within the country boarders. Rumi talked about how close religion and culture were “So Pakistani culture and religion are so tightly bound, I mean it’s a country that is literally made because of religion so it is hard to separate the two”. Religion goes as far as to restrict what can and cannot be eaten, as Rumi goes into there is no pork, alcohol, or even shellfish because of these religious laws and importance to culture and community.

The American food experience is exported to essentially every country on the globe and it doesn’t look like it is going to stop anytime soon. KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and many more recognizable brands (Europe really loves Burger King for some reason) this luckily creates an easy transitional experience for people abroad to fit into the American eating culture. While there are regional specialties even in McDonalds like the McNoodles, McCurry Pan, or even McShrimp. These exceptions aside the menu generally is the same across boards and time zones (easy now especially with 24-hour breakfast) Rumi was able to get a really good look with the local fast food and chain markets by eating there once every two weeks. This culture for food that they provide allowed a smooth and easy transitional period to the American philosophy of eating, which is typically to go, fast, large, and typically not the healthiest.

Food is in every kitchen, mouth, and stomach, and person from all over the world. How it gets there is a personal journey which requires special preparation, method, and taste (haha). For me the noodle narrative has taken me to a deeper understanding of the culture of food which I live myself. Understanding Rumi and his culture allowed for me to get a peak into his life and overall a better understanding the Emory community and diversity which it holds.

Entry 6, food and fortitude.

As you enter the excitement builds. The smells waft through the door as the air-conditioning hits your skin. Food has always been sensory and that is what these restaurants provided. Both restaurants set up these experiences in different and interesting ways. • Lights • Atmosphere • Setting up of the tables As we went from the car into the Chinese restaurant we went to the back room. Large circular tables awaited us as also plates and plates made us eager to sit down and start to feast. The conditions of culture were very prevalent within the setting of the table. It wasn’t just about the foods on the plate but also how the food itself was pattered. There were traditional wooded boxes to serve the dumplings. Funny enough I couldn’t stop looking at this box. Circular and made of wood it would platter the dumplings, still containing the steam and covered to keep warm. With the circular tables it allowed everyone to be able to look at one another but also to pass food conveniently. If passing one of the large platters was too hard you’d also be able to move the table itself. The table itself would spin on one of the racks and it could spin and spun until you were full enough to not want to move. Contrasting the Chinese shop, the Italian restaurant was a lot darker with its lighting, the rectangle table brought forth the traditional staples of old world Europe. The food was stapled from regions all over and showcased the incredible skill of how the pasta was made. The dishes comprised of several different ingredients, sauces were the prime base of flavoring outside of preparatory spices that added aromatics. The dishes used similar proteins other than the tofu that is more prevenient As “Eating out and Gastronomy” says that the feel of the restaurant really empowers the dining experience. Whether that be from the style the food is prepared in, the atmosphere, lighting, and etcetera. This process affects the ambiance which also then brings about the entire mood set that one is eating under. This experience that we had at each restaurant lead to differing moods and feelings within each of the respective restaurants and how we approached the food and culture that was portrayed.

A Noodle Family: Cultural Fusion Evidenced in Mexican Immigrant Food Traditions

The different food traditions in which my people partake in the USA are indicative of this country’s cultural fusion, for though culture is expressed through myriad mediums, there is none quite as accessible or easily frequented as food. In an effort to explore the ways in which the fusion of Mexican and Vietnamese cultures manifests in food traditions, I conducted an interview with my sister, Brenda Mata, and my mother Rosalba Torres, two Mexican immigrants living in a predominantly Vietnamese community in Southern California. The following sections will delineate the influence of Asian cultural on Brenda and Rosalba’s perceptions of Mexican food and culture as evidenced in their thoughts on authenticity, Mexican cultural values, and the significance of cultural integration in a modern world.

Authenticity in America

“…even if the ingredients are original and even if I’m there helping to cook, or if a Vietnamese woman is standing behind me telling me how to do things, it is not original because the person cooking isn’t one who is original. There are many people who have tried imitating Mexican food, and it isn’t the same. It must be someone who has used that method, who knows the exact quantities and, I don’t know, everything has its essence, its seasoning.” – Rosalba Torres

 

“…by the definition that my mom uses, that everything has to be authentic Mexican and made in Mexico, then all food that is made in the US of other cultures in not authentic, regardless of who makes it. But I, having grown up here eating the food, don’t feel as if that is something that is going to invalidate the food’s authenticity.” – Brenda Mata

 

The question of authenticity seized our conversation very early into the interview. When asked what she considered to be authentic Mexican cuisine, Rosalba took a moment to consider my question before summarizing her answer into two simple Spanish words—hecho en. The literal translation of the words is simply “made in,” but their true meaning is far more complex. The concept of hecho en was expounded for several minutes after which Rosalba expressed her staunch belief that, like all food, Mexican cuisine is only truly authentic if it is cooked with ingredients grown in Mexico by a person who learned Mexican culinary techniques from an early age. Rosalba summarized the latter of these strict guidelines with the Spanish word sazón, meaning seasoning, to describe that certain something with which people raised in the Mexican culture cook. Thus, Rosalba considers authentic Mexican cuisine to be food that is made either in Mexico by Mexican people or made anywhere else with all other Mexican elements.

As soon as Rosalba’s stringent definition for authenticity was established, Brenda voiced her disagreement with the idea that Mexican food must be made with ingredients made in Mexico to be considered authentic. She reasoned that Rosalba’s definition was much too restrictive since food made with traditional Mexican ingredients bought in American markets must then be senselessly dismissed as inauthentic. Instead, Brenda believes that so long as steps are taken to learn traditional culinary techniques and proper ingredients are used, any person of any culture could cook authentic dishes that do not pertain to his or her own original culture. When asked whether her being exposed to the Vietnamese culture and its many foods that differ greatly from Mexican dishes had influenced her less strict definition of authenticity, Brenda heartily agreed and admitted that she had not grown up with the idea of authenticity in mind. Thus, her perception of the authenticity of Mexican food in the US had never been disturbed because it has never truly been an issue.

Reflection of Mexican Cultural Values in Food

“Here, we can afford a few more luxuries to go out and eat fast food. But even so, when we first arrived here, I think you guys still remember that I have always cooked for you. I’ve always liked for you to eat at home.” – Rosalba Torres

 

“It takes more time to go to the market to buy food, prepare it, than to go and buy something that has already been prepared. And if you’re thinking, alright well I want Mexican food, you don’t have to go all the way up to LA. There are places around here in which you can find something you like. But the reason for why I do everything so quickly is because of the life that I lead. Everything is always happening quickly.” – Brenda Mata

 

After the topic of authenticity was exhausted, our conversation moved on to the ways in which Rosalba and Brenda’s Mexican food traditions have changed as a result of immigrating to the US and being exposed to differing cultures. Rosalba admitted that they now ate much more fast food than they used to back in Mexico. When asked to explain why this is so, Rosalba described how the family’s limited resources prevented them from visiting locals that served fast food in Mexico, for even those were considered expensive restaurants in the culture of the time. She also revealed that for older children and adults, special occasions such as a birthdays or graduations constituted grounds for a great party where food was cooked and served at home. In contrast, here in the US, Rosalba and Brenda admitted that any excuse to go out to eat is welcomed.

Brenda mentioned that after having grown familiar with Vietnamese food and its many vegetables, she was inspired to begin integrating more vegetables into her own cooking. Rosalba was quick to assure that she, too, was now trying to cook more healthy meals, though she admitted that she found this quite difficult because, unlike Chinese and Vietnamese food, Mexican food does not contain a significant number of vegetables. In fact, Mexican food is not concerned much with containing a balanced amount of nutrition. Instead, Rosalba declared that the spiciness of chilli peppers found in all Mexican food made the Mexican people strong.

Brenda further described that as a student and working person, she hardly has time to cook for herself. Thus, she is often forced to simply buy fast food so that she can dedicate time to studying or working that she would otherwise spend on cooking. Interestingly, when asked whether her tendencies toward fast food instead of food cooked at home could be seen as a sacrifice that her status as an immigrant forced her to make, Brenda was quick to disagree. She was careful to explain that she did not consider her status as an immigrant to influence her eating habits. Instead, she accounted her choices in food to the lifestyle that she led; however, she did not explain exactly what this lifestyle constituted or how her having immigrated into the country did relate to it.

Conclusion

As immigrants, Rosalba and Brenda’s exposure to different cultures has influenced their food traditions in such a way that they have become a fusion of several distinct cultural customs. Though both women continue to adore spicy food and even saddle chilli in any form to whatever foods they eat, the American tradition of celebrating special occasions by visiting a favorite restaurant now shapes their own food traditions involving celebratory events. What’s more, their exposure to a balance of vegetables, proteins, and starches present in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine has prompted them to adapt their own traditional, spice-centered Mexican cooking to include more vegetables.

Though the strong presence of the Vietnamese culture in their environment influenced both women in similar ways, our conversation did reveal several distinctions between each woman’s perception of cultural food traditions. Rosalba admits that she cannot discern between Vietnamese food and all other Asian cuisine. Thus, her understanding of the ways in which Vietnamese food, specifically noodles, has influenced the development of her own food traditions has been greatly stunted. When asked whether she could name a Vietnamese dish, she revealed that she could not and instead began to name standard Chinese dishes found in American Chinese food restaurants. Rosalba’s attitude toward Asian food implicates that she has adopted the Western mentality that enables the Americanization of other cultural food traditions. While she is aware of her own culture to such an extent that she feels comfortable establishing stringent guidelines on what she considers to be authentic, she is generally unobservant of the distinctions between the Vietnamese and Chinese food traditions, even generalizing the two into one category. The consequence of Rosalba’s mentality is a loss of cultural appreciation not only for Vietnamese and Chinese food, but also for the roles that each cultural cuisine plays in the development of her own unique food traditions that undeniably contain elements of both American and Asian cuisine.

Brenda, on the other hand, possesses greater knowledge of Vietnamese food. She enjoys Vietnamese milk coffee and phó, a Vietnamese rice noodle dish served with a few herbs and meat whose sparse use of vegetables and strong flavor recalls traditional Mexican cuisine. Unlike Rosalba, Brenda also asserts that it is important to follow one’s own cultural traditions while also integrating the traditions of other cultures because doing so leads to a greater appreciation of the beauty of the shared cultural experience within the US, an experience that enables the melting pot of culture characteristic of this country.

A Noodle Family: Cultural Fusion Evidenced in Mexican Immigrant Food Traditions

The different food traditions in which my people partake in the USA are indicative of this country’s cultural fusion, for though culture is expressed through myriad mediums, there is none quite as accessible or easily frequented as food. In an effort to explore the ways in which the fusion of Mexican and Vietnamese cultures manifests in food traditions, I conducted an interview with my sister, Brenda Mata, and my mother Rosalba Torres, two Mexican immigrants living in a predominantly Vietnamese community in Southern California. The following sections will delineate the influence of Asian cultural on Brenda and Rosalba’s perceptions of Mexican food and culture as evidenced in their thoughts on authenticity, Mexican cultural values, and the significance of cultural integration in a modern world.

Authenticity in America

“…even if the ingredients are original and even if I’m there helping to cook, or if a Vietnamese woman is standing behind me telling me how to do things, it is not original because the person cooking isn’t one who is original. There are many people who have tried imitating Mexican food, and it isn’t the same. It must be someone who has used that method, who knows the exact quantities and, I don’t know, everything has its essence, its seasoning.” – Rosalba Torres

 

“…by the definition that my mom uses, that everything has to be authentic Mexican and made in Mexico, then all food that is made in the US of other cultures in not authentic, regardless of who makes it. But I, having grown up here eating the food, don’t feel as if that is something that is going to invalidate the food’s authenticity.” – Brenda Mata

 

The question of authenticity seized our conversation very early into the interview. When asked what she considered to be authentic Mexican cuisine, Rosalba took a moment to consider my question before summarizing her answer into two simple Spanish words—hecho en. The literal translation of the words is simply “made in,” but their true meaning is far more complex. The concept of hecho en was expounded for several minutes after which Rosalba expressed her staunch belief that, like all food, Mexican cuisine is only truly authentic if it is cooked with ingredients grown in Mexico by a person who learned Mexican culinary techniques from an early age. Rosalba summarized the latter of these strict guidelines with the Spanish word sazón, meaning seasoning, to describe that certain something with which people raised in the Mexican culture cook. Thus, Rosalba considers authentic Mexican cuisine to be food that is made either in Mexico by Mexican people or made anywhere else with all other Mexican elements.

As soon as Rosalba’s stringent definition for authenticity was established, Brenda voiced her disagreement with the idea that Mexican food must be made with ingredients made in Mexico to be considered authentic. She reasoned that Rosalba’s definition was much too restrictive since food made with traditional Mexican ingredients bought in American markets must then be senselessly dismissed as inauthentic. Instead, Brenda believes that so long as steps are taken to learn traditional culinary techniques and proper ingredients are used, any person of any culture could cook authentic dishes that do not pertain to his or her own original culture. When asked whether her being exposed to the Vietnamese culture and its many foods that differ greatly from Mexican dishes had influenced her less strict definition of authenticity, Brenda heartily agreed and admitted that she had not grown up with the idea of authenticity in mind. Thus, her perception of the authenticity of Mexican food in the US had never been disturbed because it has never truly been an issue.

Reflection of Mexican Cultural Values in Food

“Here, we can afford a few more luxuries to go out and eat fast food. But even so, when we first arrived here, I think you guys still remember that I have always cooked for you. I’ve always liked for you to eat at home.” – Rosalba Torres

 

“It takes more time to go to the market to buy food, prepare it, than to go and buy something that has already been prepared. And if you’re thinking, alright well I want Mexican food, you don’t have to go all the way up to LA. There are places around here in which you can find something you like. But the reason for why I do everything so quickly is because of the life that I lead. Everything is always happening quickly.” – Brenda Mata

 

After the topic of authenticity was exhausted, our conversation moved on to the ways in which Rosalba and Brenda’s Mexican food traditions have changed as a result of immigrating to the US and being exposed to differing cultures. Rosalba admitted that they now ate much more fast food than they used to back in Mexico. When asked to explain why this is so, Rosalba described how the family’s limited resources prevented them from visiting locals that served fast food in Mexico, for even those were considered expensive restaurants in the culture of the time. She also revealed that for older children and adults, special occasions such as a birthdays or graduations constituted grounds for a great party where food was cooked and served at home. In contrast, here in the US, Rosalba and Brenda admitted that any excuse to go out to eat is welcomed.

Brenda mentioned that after having grown familiar with Vietnamese food and its many vegetables, she was inspired to begin integrating more vegetables into her own cooking. Rosalba was quick to assure that she, too, was now trying to cook more healthy meals, though she admitted that she found this quite difficult because, unlike Chinese and Vietnamese food, Mexican food does not contain a significant number of vegetables. In fact, Mexican food is not concerned much with containing a balanced amount of nutrition. Instead, Rosalba declared that the spiciness of chilli peppers found in all Mexican food made the Mexican people strong.

Brenda further described that as a student and working person, she hardly has time to cook for herself. Thus, she is often forced to simply buy fast food so that she can dedicate time to studying or working that she would otherwise spend on cooking. Interestingly, when asked whether her tendencies toward fast food instead of food cooked at home could be seen as a sacrifice that her status as an immigrant forced her to make, Brenda was quick to disagree. She was careful to explain that she did not consider her status as an immigrant to influence her eating habits. Instead, she accounted her choices in food to the lifestyle that she led; however, she did not explain exactly what this lifestyle constituted or how her having immigrated into the country did relate to it.

Conclusion

As immigrants, Rosalba and Brenda’s exposure to different cultures has influenced their food traditions in such a way that they have become a fusion of several distinct cultural customs. Though both women continue to adore spicy food and even saddle chilli in any form to whatever foods they eat, the American tradition of celebrating special occasions by visiting a favorite restaurant now shapes their own food traditions involving celebratory events. What’s more, their exposure to a balance of vegetables, proteins, and starches present in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine has prompted them to adapt their own traditional, spice-centered Mexican cooking to include more vegetables.

Though the strong presence of the Vietnamese culture in their environment influenced both women in similar ways, our conversation did reveal several distinctions between each woman’s perception of cultural food traditions. Rosalba admits that she cannot discern between Vietnamese food and all other Asian cuisine. Thus, her understanding of the ways in which Vietnamese food, specifically noodles, has influenced the development of her own food traditions has been greatly stunted. When asked whether she could name a Vietnamese dish, she revealed that she could not and instead began to name standard Chinese dishes found in American Chinese food restaurants. Rosalba’s attitude toward Asian food implicates that she has adopted the Western mentality that enables the Americanization of other cultural food traditions. While she is aware of her own culture to such an extent that she feels comfortable establishing stringent guidelines on what she considers to be authentic, she is generally unobservant of the distinctions between the Vietnamese and Chinese food traditions, even generalizing the two into one category. The consequence of Rosalba’s mentality is a loss of cultural appreciation not only for Vietnamese and Chinese food, but also for the roles that each cultural cuisine plays in the development of her own unique food traditions that undeniably contain elements of both American and Asian cuisine.

Brenda, on the other hand, possesses greater knowledge of Vietnamese food. She enjoys Vietnamese milk coffee and phó, a Vietnamese rice noodle dish served with a few herbs and meat whose sparse use of vegetables and strong flavor recalls traditional Mexican cuisine. Unlike Rosalba, Brenda also asserts that it is important to follow one’s own cultural traditions while also integrating the traditions of other cultures because doing so leads to a greater appreciation of the beauty of the shared cultural experience within the US, an experience that enables the melting pot of culture characteristic of this country.

Narrative of Joan Townsend’s Interview

Lost in the Noodle:

An American Perspective on the Noodle and International Cuisine

How do we define the noodle, and who gets to decide this definition? As the myth goes, Marco Polo brought the noodle from China back to Italy in the late 13th century, so then the definition would come from the Chinese – but the Italian noodle is so different than the Chinese, so shouldn’t Italians also be able to define the noodle? From my recent endeavor, both in the Chinese and Italian Seminar and an interview conducted with American Joan Townsend, I’ve found that the noodle cannot and should not be defined by one country or people. The noodle is universal in its nature as it has travelled across the world and through generations, picking up different influences, flavors, textures and forms from others. Before reaching this conclusion, I researched an American’s interpretation of the noodle, how she was influenced by it and how it has affected her interpretation of Italian and Chinese cultures.  After conducting the interview, I found that her information could be broken down into two main groups: her American heritage and her evolution into a more diverse eater. Through these two overarching themes, I was able to determine that there is such a thing as an “American noodle”, and that Americanization of certain foods is not necessarily and uniquely bad thing. The noodle, though Americanized, has given Townsend a glimpse into the cultures of Italy and China as it acts as both a vehicle for international cuisine, but also as a comfortable glimpse back to her childhood. Therefore, I concluded that the noodle can not be defined solely by one country, it can only be described by each cuisine where it has a presence.

 

–  Part I  –

Background, Cuisine Growing Up, American Cuisine

 

Firstly, it is important to give the background of the interviewee, as it helps to define her foundational view of the noodle. Joan Townsend, my mother, was born in the state of Ohio in 1960, and grew up in different cities and suburbs around Ohio. Before she and her siblings were born, her parents lived in France as her Father was in the military. Townsend moved to Washington, D.C, a very international city, “in 1988, when I was 28” to pursue her career. In 1998, though, she moved to Brussels, Belgium because of her husband’s work. Ohio and Washington and two very different places in terms of culture, internationalism and cuisine. I was intrigued about this, so I interrogated her about which area she identified with the most as they are almost polar opposites. She stated that “exactly half my life was in Ohio and half was in Washington, but I consider myself a Washingtonian”. This aspect is very important in this research as it showed me that she has evolved and her identification has evolved from a classic American childhood in Ohio to a more international perspective in Washington, and the she feels more strongly associated with Washington. This is what lead my questioning during the interview, her sort of change and evolution from a domestic to an international perspective on food. Using this as a baseline, I was able to begin my investigation into her ideas about American cuisine, noodles and her relationship with the Chinese and Italian cuisines.

The next vital step in understanding Townsend’s view of the noodle and Italian and Chinese cuisines is to focus on her foundation of taste, created during her childhood. This foundation will be used to interpret her evolution from a solely American food understanding to a more international understanding of food cultures. Townsend’s food identity growing was solely American with very little diversion from this almost purely American cuisine: “I grew up in a house, in a generation, where it was only my mother who cooked […] we ate a slightly better cooking than my cohorts in Cleveland, but we would eat the classic protein, vegetable and starch meals”. She continued on by talking about her childhood experience with noodles, where they would eat “pasta sometimes, but my dad didn’t like it, but we did have spaghetti and noodles as a side dish to pork chops”. As a baseline, her diet seemed to have a very classic American foundation, with little experience of international cuisines. I asked about her experience eating out at Italian and Chinese restaurants, and she stated that in Cleveland, Ohio, there was only one Chinese restaurant that her family would go to very infrequently. The only times they would go to Italian restaurants would be when her father was out of town. The American cuisine trend continued throughout her childhood, where the only noodles she would consume was spaghetti with “a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce and browned hamburger, a very Americanized dish, but I loved it”. This information I found to be vital because she enjoyed an Americanized noodle dish and she knew it was Americanized, something that may seem very uncultured to some. She either had knowledge at the time of what traditional Italian food was like, or she developed it overtime, the latter of which is more believable. This statement furthered my investigation into the Americanization of the noodle and its effects and illustrated how her diet evolved overtime as did her knowledge of traditional food.

Though her experience with international food was few and far between and her noodle consumption was limited and not very international, she did state that her life growing up was not totally American. As stated earlier, Townsend believed that the cuisine she was raised on was more evolved than those around her as her parents had lived in France for several years. Her father once gave her an Italian pasta maker from one of his business trips, which she would use occasionally as a family bonding exercise. This showed to me that, though her lifestyle and diet was American, there was a small flame of international cuisine within her that was starting to expand. The baseline for her food persona, let’s say, is based on a mostly American cuisine and ideals. She defines an American meals and cuisine as “meat, vegetable and side dish as a starch, where noodles could be used”. The only defining characteristic of American food is this trifecta of protein, vegetable and starch, therefore almost any food or ingredient can be used in American cuisine. Thus, noodles can inherently be American, as Townsend suggests, where her idea of an American noodle is “your basic egg noodle, a side dish with butter and salt on it”. This was an almost shocking statement. Noodles are almost always seen as combined with some sort of tomato based sauce, or combined in an Asian dish, but never as a plain, egg noodle next to a piece of chicken. In addition, this egg noodle Townsend speaks of is actually very similar to those used in parts of China and Asia. The egg noodle is a cornerstone of Chinese cuisine and comes in many different forms, but still shares the same base ingredients as the American noodle, and even some Italian noodles as well: flour, eggs and water. This illustrates how, though the noodle may originate somewhere other than America, its foundation is still used in American cuisine. This minute detail is what may have lead to Townsend’s evolution from American to International consumer. Finally, noodles represented more than just food to Townsend: “noodles to me were comfort food, they were delicious and comforting […] the fact that I loved noodles as a child makes me love pasta and other noodle dishes now”. Noodles acted as, and act now, as a glimpse back to the comfort of her childhood and, though noodles have an international cultural significance, still relate back to American cuisine.

 

–  Part II  –

The Influence of Noodles as an Adult, International Culture in Her Life

 

Townsend’s experience with noodles evolved during her lifetime, where noodles in Italian and Chinese cuisines had become more important in her life and diet. Primarily, though, her noodle consumption frequency increased dramatically “my tastes have changed […] I probably make pasta or some kind of noodle dish at least once a week […] but I still really love [noodles]”. This truly encompasses Townsend’s evolution as she rarely ate noodles as a child, and really only on special occasions, but now her diet frequently involves noodles. The fact that she finds comfort in noodles shows through her consumption of them now. In addition, her less than infrequent visits to Italian and Chinese restaurants has actually solidified her love of noodles currently: “Italian food was always a pasta with a tomato sauce, but now I now that it is more than that, there is gnocchi with pesto sauce, or even dishes without pasta, but with eggplant and veal and stuff like that”, “Growing up there was the one restaurant we would go to, or the packaged glop you would get at the grocery store. Its not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t love it […] I definitely eat noodles when I go out to Chinese restaurants”. Townsend’s lack of international food as a child and her American diet actually led her to have a much more international diet as an adult and actually allowed her to experiment and find out that Chinese and Italian cuisine is more than just what might be at restaurants in Ohio.

Finally, Townsend gained a new international identity through a new international culture in her life. Through interviewing Townsend, it is possible to extrapolate that there is no true way to define the difference between noodles from different cultures as they are so different. Townsend states that “It’d be great if I could give you a definitive answer, but I don’t know if noodles are wider in China or what, but there is a difference in sauces”. Noodles are so different that the only way to differentiate between them in different cuisines is through the sauces they come in. In addition, Townsend spent four years living in Belgium and discovered something very important in terms of the globalization of Chinese food and noodles: “when we lived in Belgium, they had Chinese food that was ‘Belgianized’ and was different than American Chinese food […] Chinese food in America is something casual, but in Belgium, Chinese food was upscale”. There is more than just Americanization of Chinese food, but there each country that Chinese or Italian food is has an influence on that food. The noodle has led the globalization of Chinese and Italian food. Finally, Townsend illustrates how Americanization of food is not a bad thing: “They say that Chinese food has been Americanized to American taste, but that’s fine because I’m American and it fits my taste”. Though Chinese and Italian food has changed because of American culture, it is not necessarily a bad thing as it fits the taste of a huge population. Though some may see US culture affecting international culture, it occurred because it fit the taste of those consuming it.

Through the interview with Townsend, it can be concluded that there is an existence of the American noodle, which connected Townsend both to the Chinese and International cultures, but also to the comfort of her childhood. The noodle sparked an interest in international cuisine that began an evolution of Townsend’s taste and diet. Though the noodle may have begun as Chinese or Italian, the Americanization of the noodle is not a bad thing and actually makes the evolution from American cuisine to more international cuisines easier. Townsend’s experience with noodles and the Chinese and Italian cuisines has helped to explain that the noodle cannot be tied to one culture, as it has roots in many different countries and is influenced by many cuisines from around the world, like the American cuisine.

Authenticity of American Chinese Food by Jonathan Brown

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When left with the task of finding someone to interview and getting their opinion on food, who better than Nicole Yang I thought. Nicole Yang is a friend I made here at Emory. I first met her in the DUC cafeteria during my first semester here after meeting her roommate only to discover later that Nicole and I were in the same Chemistry class. I would talk to her occasionally and I just knew from her personality that she would be the ideal person for me to interview and get insight on Chinese food. The information I wanted to obtain from Nicole was how the Chinese dishes in America relate to dishes they have at her home country, as well as how she maintains authenticity in a place where all of the ingredients may not be available. I was very curious to see her point of view on rather or not Chinese dishes can be authentic in places outside of China, and sure enough after finally interviewing her, she made sure I was well informed.

Once I began the video I thought it necessary to first do an Icebreaker and ask her a bit about herself. Nicole was born in Shanghai, China where she attended an international high school. Now at Emory, she plans to major in financial accounting at the Goizueta Business School. I started off the official interview first asking her if she enjoys Chinese food in which she responds “Of Course”. As she continued to talk she stated that eating Chinese food acted as a medium through which she thought of home. When she thinks of home, one of the most important things was the food she ate that was cooked by her grandparents, particularly her grandfather who is from the northern part of China. He would cook home-made noodles which she found delightful and would eat at least once or twice a week. Unfortunately that has changed since she has been at Emory due to the cafeteria not always serving noodles.

When asked about the authenticity of the Chinese food here in Atlanta, I was actually surprised when she stated that it actually is pretty authentic. However one of the downfalls she makes mention of is the limited selection of Chinese food here. What we as Americans classify as Chinese food are only dishes of Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine. Nicole stated that there are at least 50 different genres of Chinese food back in China because the country is so diverse that various regions have different specialties. She is still yet to find Shanghainese food here which consists of dishes that are a bit sweeter such as Shanghai hairy crab, Lion head meatballs, and Chicken and duck blood soup. Due to the lack of coverage of Chinese, Nicole has also stated that this has caused her some difficulties for when she tries to find certain ingredients. During a spring festival, she and her friends wanted to cook a traditional Chinese meal but even though they shopped at the Asian markets, there were still some special spices (which cannot be translated into English) that they were unable to find.

When our discussion turned to the attitudes of the people eating food in China compared to us here at Emory, she finds it fascinating how people here just eat whatever they can at the DUC. She speculates that this may just be the lifestyle of college students since there is a big buffet in the cafeteria and many students are trying to get their money’s worth. As she described the eating attitudes back in China, she made it clear that the Chinese put a big emphasis on food because they believe it is a key part to life. In China, the people like to make home cooked meals and find it essential to ensure that the foods that consist of a meal go well together taste wise and more importantly health wise. Health and nutrition are major goals in Chinese cooking and many people like to make sure that the food being served is well rounded. So from this portion of the interview, I can conclude that the Chinese are very careful about what they eat and what they eat it with, however we both believe it to be unfair to compare the attitudes and views on food of an entire culture to those of a college university due to the possibility of sampling bias. So a conclusion for this topic cannot be reached. Nevertheless, speaking on behalf of my American family, whenever we cook, we do put a lot of effort in making sure the foods go together and are somewhat healthy.

As we moved on to the topic of inauthentic cuisine, Nicole stated that one the dishes she found to be inauthentic was a chicken snack (I couldn’t understand what she called it). I was also shocked when she stated that some bowls in the fusion section of the DUC were inauthentic because they tended to use a lot of onions, but Nicole said that using onions is not something they use in Chinese cooking. Interestingly enough, Nicole has grown to love these inauthentic dishes. “They are actually quite good when you don’t think of it as Chinese food” She said comically.

As we wrapped up our interview, I could not help but ask about the differences between the older and younger generations of Chinese people back in China and how their views on food may fluctuate. On to the topic we discussed earlier about the importance of nutrition and orientation of dishes, Nicole informed me that it is usually the older generation who put the most emphasis on these things and that as the younger generation become busier, they start to care less about these things. A lot of the times, the younger generation do not have time to cook and some even go to fast food restaurants daily. A controversial issue that China is going through right now that highlights differences between these two demographics is the mass production of food. People are not cooking their own dishes as much as they used to. There is also the problem of hormones being added to the meat which the older generation are getting upset with due to the changing tastes. When I asked Nicole about her opinion she responded “When I was a child the mass production had already started, so I’m not getting too upset about it”. Although unfortunate in my opinion, change is inevitable and this is just another case of the developmental approach taking effect.

Looking back to this interview, I feel like a lot of knowledge was passed and I am grateful to have chosen Nicole to do this interview with me. I was especially surprised to learn that the Chinese food here is actually quite authentic despite rumors that it isn’t. I am glad that she seems to have adapted here in Atlanta rather favorably despite a few limitation in Chinese cuisine. I can only hope that in the future Chinese food in America will be able to include more than just Cantonese cuisine, but as this knowledge continues to be shared, I believe changes will be made.     78ff3089-23f1-4768-bb56-ac21ae4494d4

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Claire’s Noodle Narrative

Claire Mahon
Professors Christine Ristaino and Hong Li
CHN 190
4/20/2015
Noodle Narrative
I’ve been blessed to grow up in a neighborhood with people from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. One of my mom’s best friends is Felecia Tan, the mom of a family living two houses down from mine. She grew up in Malaysia, and she still cooks predominantly Malaysian food at home for her husband and two daughters, ages 19 and 21. I’ve had the privilege of going over to her house many times for after school snacks, dinners, and even had her make me special soup when I was sick. She enjoys talking about Malaysian food and once taught me how to make dumplings from scratch.
While I don’t remember her specific recipes or the names of dishes she has made me over the years, I’ll always remember her passion for food and inviting nature. She was a natural choice for my noodle interview, since she is knowledgeable about Malaysian food and lives in an intersection of Malaysian and American cultures. She taught me about the wide spectrum of Malaysian food and how it differs from American food. I conclude that her main cultural compass is Malaysian, but she allows American culture to influence her household.
I began by asking Mrs. Tan about Malaysian food and cooking attitudes in comparison to American food. Her first point was that “American [foods] are mostly pre-made versus [Malaysian foods] have more spices and natural ingredients.” She chooses to make traditional Chinese or Malaysian food 90% of the time, even though she has lived in the US for over half her life. The idea of natural flavor coming from fresh ingredients reminds me of how Italian food is based around a few beautiful ingredients found in certain seasons in certain areas. Local availability of ingredients causes regional differences in Malaysian food. For example, Mrs. Tan’s hometown is on the water, so one of the most popular dishes there is a prawn noodle soup. In contrast, Americans eat most foods year round without regards for seasonality and are happy to import foods hundreds of miles. Malaysian food has components that many Americans would not be comfortable eating, like fish heads, and it is “very spicy.” Mrs. Tan told me that she tries to make Malaysian dishes not so spicy for when her American friends visit, so that they “can still enjoy the Asian foods and try new things.”
There are two types of Malaysian noodles: “soup based and dry.” While Americans generally choose food on preferences and convenience, Mrs. Tan explained that soup based noodles are eaten on a daily basis for lunch while dry noodles are eaten for special occasions like banquets. Interestingly enough, Malaysian noodles are egg based, like Italian noodles, instead of rice based, like Chinese ones. When talking about these noodles, Mrs. Tan calls them “a special kind of pasta,” furthering the comparison to Italian food. However, due to the Chinese influence on Malaysia, rice based noodles are also available in Malaysia.
Mrs. Tan also stresses the importance of time and effort in creating authentic Malaysian food. However, she doesn’t see weeknight cooking from scratch as a chore or annoyance like many Americans do. She told me that since she stopped working full time, she spends “most of [her] time, three meals a day, cooking the proper meal for the family” because she “enjoys cooking and loves food.” Outside of the cooking, she makes an effort to go to Chinese grocery stores to find certain ingredients. She also said that is it “more accessible to create authentic Malaysian or Chinese food” in Atlanta because of the recent proliferation of Asian grocery stores such as H-Mart. However, it’s impossible to find everything, so she can “use creative ways to substitute…when you can’t buy certain ingredients, like special vegetables, so you can use American ones like carrots” instead of the local Malaysian vegetables.” So while Malaysian and Chinese food is the focus of her kitchen, she does incorporate American aspects to adapt to local food availability. This reminds me of how Italian immigrants to the US kept a strong sense of Italian identity while adapting recipes to create a new subgenre of food.
Similarly, American holidays facilitate an intriguing menu of dishes at the Tan house. Mrs. Tan explains that “in my family, we have a blend of everything: American, Malaysian, and Chinese mixed” on big holidays. Her family is very involved with a local Chinese Christian church, so Mrs. Tan has “the Christian value from the ham to make Easter more balanced for the guests that come.” Mrs. Tan finds ways to keep her Malaysian roots while still being an active Christian. For her daughters’ birthday parties, Mrs. Tan usually makes classic American food like burgers. She also enjoys traveling around the world “to try different cooking” and enjoys a variety of ethnic foods.
It was both fun and informative to learn about Mrs. Tan’s attitudes about food. While I had expected to find similarities between Chinese food and Malaysian food, I actually found more similarities between Italian and Malaysian food in respect to ingredients and focus on adaptions to fit American life. It was very fulfilling to get to know my neighbor on a more personal level and learn about her values.

Noodles narrative

 

When Mrs. Julie Park, my roommate Eddie Park’s mother, agreed to have an interview with me, I could not decide if the interview should be conducted in Korean or English. Having observed my roommate for near two semesters, who was born in Korea but moved to Atlanta at grade 3, I noticed he was more comfortable speaking English than Korean. He would often mix both Korean and English in conversation. Indeed, it was an ethnographic research I have unintentionally been conducting on my roommate by living together in a dorm room and engaging each other through daily lives. It is nearly unbelievable that I have spent nearly 2 days pondering about this issue because during the actual interview, Mrs. Julie was just like her son – speaking a mixture of Korean and English.

 

Never in my life, I have interacted with a Korean-American parent. I was genuinely curious in finding out if Mrs. Julie would consider herself as American or Korean since she has lived in Atlanta for more than 10 years. On top of that, I wanted to find out the frequency of Korean and American dish served in her home. The ultimate goal of my interview project was to study how much did her life in American affect her Korean cuisine, how important are noodles in your eatery life and how integrated American and Korean cuisine culture are in your family.

 

When the interview began, the first words she said were: “So you are the Koby my son Eddie always talked about.” This got me nervous. I have no clue what my roommate has been telling her mother nor what kind of impression she had on me; I had to just laugh it off awkwardly. She kindly described how well American culture is integrated in her family’s dining culture. Breakfast is always served American without a question, lunch is usually eaten outside and dinner is always served when her husband Mr. Park is around. However, when Mr. Park is not around she would often cook American for her two lovely sons who do not mind either cuisine. She added that though her youngest son, Greg Park, was born and raised in Atlanta, he loves to eat Korean food because he often eats it at home. It was rather easy to figure out that Korean cuisine is the main dish at her home. She makes weekly trip to Korean supermarket called Megamart which is an hour away from her house to get ingredients that are only available there to cook Korean cuisine. At the same time, she frequently visits conventional supermarket like Publix to get daily goods, basic ingredients and others for cooking American dishes. She complained about the extensive shopping trips she has to make as a Korean-American to cook both dishes. This was interesting because it seemed she was putting equal emphasis on both identities, at least in terms of cooking and dining at home. When cooking Korean dish, she uses ingredients from both American and Korean supermarkets which turns into a rather unique Korean food. Since her sons cannot handle spiciness well, like many Americans according to Mrs. Julie, her dishes at home are mild. She even cooks some of spicy Korean dishes mild for her sons, which got me wondering if it was because her cooking was getting Americanized or she was simply catering to her lovely sons’ demands. Then I realized even in my house, since my dad and I cannot handle spicy food at all, all of my mom’s dishes are mild when we are all living in Korea. Perhaps the American cuisine has nothing to do with her mild cooking.

 

Personally, noodles are something I would eat as a quick alternate meal when I was in Korea. As soon as I moved to Singapore in grade 5 where Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures co-exist, noodles became an important part of my life. I wondered what noodles mean for Mrs. Julie. For her, noodles are quick-bite like to-go hamburgers. Growing up in Korea and USA, majority of noodles she had were instant noodles. When I further explained that noodles include pasta, secretly expecting her to reveal more of her inner thoughts, she was still rather nonchalant. She just said “Oh I cook spaghetti for my sons too.”, period. This was the point of time when this sudden thought stroke me hard if Koreans ever take noodles seriously? This was something I feared before the interview. For me, ever since the noodles seminar, I have tried hard to view noodles differently. To be honest, I have never considered the cultural, social and other aspects of noodles before this class. The fear I had was that, other people may have felt the same way as me. I feared that Mrs. Julie would be nonchalant about noodles, just like me before this semester, which actually happened. Maybe this is the challenge anyone studying noodles face during research. We just take everyday things and food for granted. Hamburgers are just hamburgers; just like noodles. Perhaps for a better research in future, the interviewee should be informed prior to interview to seriously think about significance of noodles in her/his life.

 

At the end of interview, I was able to learn that Mrs. Julie is a proud mother and Korean-American. She is happy to cook Korean food for her family and her friends. The fact that her son, Eddie, always begs me to go out for dinner or lunch at Korean restaurant showed how much Korean food is embedded in his family. As someone who spent 9 years growing up in Singapore, I clearly know how difficult it is to cook Korean dish everyday in a foreign country. Korean ingredients are usually more expensive and hard to acquire. It requires enormous efforts and time to do so, even here in Atlanta. I was deeply touched by how Mrs. Julie tries her best to cater to her family, maintaining both Korean and American identities simultaneously. There was no obvious identity crisis I could notice, she could clearly define and introduce herself as Korean-American. Perhaps the term Korean-American, is a comprehensive term that embraces both Korean and American identities, even in the aspect of food. If Mrs. Julie only served American food at home, her sons may have identified themselves as American more than Korean-American. Her Korean food was indeed a pivotal factor determining the identity of herself and her sons. This ultimately signifies how food, in general, plays it role in morphing, defining and representing a culture and identity. Such conclusion can be easily drawn from simple observation and interview. At my level, however, it is still difficult to draw complex hypothesis and conclusion from everyday lives and food. Yet, I am more than glad at myself for being able to apply concepts and lessons learnt from noodles seminar out of the classroom, and to have developed further insights on food and culture of immigrants.

 

Noodle Narratives : Head chef of Chinese restaurant who has never been to China

Chinese food is easily found in every countries. For me, raised in China’s neighbor country: Korea, it was easier to be exposed under the Chinese cultural influence. However, I never had chances to have curiosity about how different cultures could have impacts on the change of Chinese cuisine until discussing about this during classes. I just accepted Chinese food as they were viewed in my home country without any doubt that it will be just the same in China. As I discussed more about the authenticity of Chinese cuisine in the United States, I began to raise questions about the perspectives of immigrants who were directly involved in the Chinese food industry.

Of the many Chinese restaurants around Atlanta, Man Chun Hong is one of the authentic Chinese restaurant and also a Korean version of a Chinese restaurant. When I first heard that it was an “authentic” Chinese restaurant but at the same time a Korean styled Chinese restaurant in a complete new country, the United States, everything became confusing. I decided to interview the owner or the head chef of Man Chun Hong to find out how he have adapted Chinese culture in American society. My main focus of the interview was to find out how each cultures of this own identity affected his career in bringing in the Chinese culture to America and whether he set a premium on the original meaning of the food from his home country in daily lives.

When I first picked up the phone to ask for a permission to interview the owner of the restaurant was the start where everything went against my expectations. I first explained what the interview was for in Korean, expecting the owner to be one of the Chinese immigrants who moved to Korea at a young age. Once I explained that I was a student at Emory, he said “Can we do this in English? I prefer English to Korean.”. That point I realized my assumption that he will be either Korean or Chinese might be wrong and that my focus of this interview might be changed.  While conducting the interview, I had to change the questions according to his answers to the previous questions. My anticipated results were unreachable, however I was able to find out his own unique ways in adapting new cultures.

Jason, the head chef at Man Chun Hong, was a Chinese immigrant who was born in Korea but raised in America. Although he owned a quite authentic Chinese restaurant, he said that he has never been to China before. I couldn’t understand how he could deliver a culture of a country he has never been to. Then when he mentioned about his dad as an influence of his career, I was able to emphasis the family influence of Asians on one’s career. He said, “You know the president of Korea? Her father (who was also president of Korea), Park Jung Hee. My father is his personal Chinese chef. My dad is all that.” He conveyed the importance of family member’s influence of Asian on career on that point. It was quite common for the next generations to take over the career their parents had in their lives. When this happens, usually the family has its own unique ways of cooking that no other families have. This applied to Jason’s family too. His dad was the first chef who opened an authentic Chinese restaurant with Ja-jang-myeon and Jjam-bong of Korean style. He inherited this style to his own restaurant which resulted in both even proportion of Chinese and Korean customers along with some American customers. It was somewhat interesting to find third generation still getting influenced by parents’ career “grown up in a restaurant basis”.

My second question sets were focused on whether the original dishes of his menu were affected by any factors such as the local people’s preferences or his own identity. In class, we often compared the authentic and americanized restaurants through discussions after reading and watching movies. Based on the discussions, I assumed that his own identity since he is an immigrant of more than two countries may have influences over his dishes. However, his dishes weren’t affected at all and maintained the authenticity. Rather he spoke about his effort trying to elevate the quality of food. With the recipes remaining the same, the dishes were added with the ingredients that made them healthier. He said that, “For lot of Korean customers who are health conscious, you know that noodles are made out of flour. If you noticed the color, I put spinach in it.” It was also very interesting to find that he was trying to maintain the dishes as they were back in China but trying to improve the dishes in his own ways. Although he wasn’t really aware of the significance of noodles in China, he created his own meaning of noodles when cooking.

Lastly, I focused on the environmental elements of his restaurant. I was initially going to ask about the intention of the decorations that seem to connote a certain culture. One of my question specifically focused on which decoration the owner intended to put where and why. However, the restaurant was quite modern. It was hard to tell what restaurant it was just by looking at the interior. Jason mentioned that he wants his restaurant to be the “multi-cultural”. “If you focus on only one culture, it is not going to do well. I want everybody to get involved.” He said he wanted to keep the restaurant quite modern for everybody, especially for the American customers to get involved.

Although the interview didn’t turn out as I was expecting it to be, it truly did give me new insights. On top of focusing and researching more deeply on the contents we already talked about, I could highlight Chinese, Korean, and American immigrant’s perspective on the restaurant industry and especially on the noodles. I certainly felt that it was very fascinating to see food being the great means to exchange cultures. The head chef who has never been to China before and who has earned award for top three Chinese restaurant in Atlanta surely delivered his own unique ways of adapting his experiences of Chinese food to America.