Category Archives: Blog entry 6

Restaurant Visits – Post 6

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“The P.F Chang’s phenomenon poses a serious question to Chinese Americans- Who owns culture? Food was related to their ethnic identity in America. For a long time, they worked hard to make their food part of the American restaurant market. The result turned out to be chop suey, egg foo yong, or other Americanized dishes. Real Chinese food had no market in America. Some individual Chinese restaurants, like Cecilia Chiang’s Mandarin Restaurant, were struggling with real Chinese dishes, and they because successful only after mainstream American food critics endorsed them. Chinese American restaurateurs were not in control of their own culture in the American food market. P. F. Chang’s success lies not only in its ability to occupy a part of the sit-down, high-end restaurant market but also in its power to deliver authentic Chinese food and represent Chinese culinary culture as corporate America.

 

Culture is often considered as a soft power of a community or an ethnic group. Culture seems hereditary or primordial. But in reality, culture, especially culinary culture, is a “public domain” in which every participating agent or institution could have access to or even own it. To make authentic Chinese food part of the mainstream American restaurant market requires no ethnic association or intrinsic linkage to the Chinese American community. Food is both a culture and commodity. But when food becomes a commodity, it is no longer an inherited culture. Corporate America could easily appropriate it from the Chinese community.”

 

From all of the readings we did before feasting at Chef Liu’s and Baraonda, these are the themes that really stuck with me. Who does own culture? Is it the people that inherit it? Do the people that accept and adopt it have a say in how it is shaped? What happens when a culture is introduced into a new environment?

 

Although the meals we had were most definitely enjoyable and certainly familial, these were some of the questions I was considering during both my meals.

 

The first lunch we were lucky enough to have was at Chef Liu’s, a quaint restaurant located on Atlanta’s famous Buford Highway. As the readings emphasized, ambience certainly plays an integral role with food, and Chef Liu’s exemplifies this notion. With it’s sparse yet homely style true to traditional Chinese restaurants, and wall of old tube TVs, Chef Liu’s atmosphere left me nostalgic for the Chinese restaurants back in India, most of which I frequented with my friends had a similar set up- they invoked a sense of what was truly important (a notion I believe truly emphasizes Asian food philosophy) – good food and good company.

 

While the seating in the front half of the restaurant consisted of familiar four-seater square tables, the other seating area hosted much larger round tables featuring Lazy Susans. This was not only perfect for our class, but also reinforced the ideas of communal eating and bonding in Chinese culture.

The food at Chef Liu's  had all of my attention, and I didn't even think to document my meal until it was over.

The food at Chef Liu’s had all of my attention, and I didn’t even think to document my meal until it was over.

 

 

The food itself was amazing; starting from the refreshing tea, to the very last chicken dish I had, the meal was filled with a variety of different noodles, flavor combinations and ingredients. One ingredient I found particularly surprising was the potato dish, which was delicious, but made me reconsider what I thought to be a well rounded perception of the many different kinds of Chinese food. The sheer variety of noodles was great to see, and the one commonality between all the dishes was the sense of balance we had learned about; no single flavor was overwhelming or over-powering to the senses. The harmony we read about was really experienced at the table during this meal, and it brought a similar sense to the food’s recipients. Dumplings are a personal favorite and I was glad to have the chance to have them, and also to witness a classmate and friend have them for the first time in her life. It was great to see the restaurant sticking to it’s roots, and did not just rely on highly Americanized items.

 

My professor and classmate told me that this restaurant was one of the more authentic places in the city. What I find interesting is that its customers don’t just comprise of the Chinese or Asian community in Atlanta, but includes college students and families of varying ethnicities. In short, the community and city had adapted, accepted and adopted Chef Liu’s into their lives, thereby internalizing a bit of the culture as well. I truly believe this is the case, for if this were not true, Buford Highway would not be as synonymous with great food (not great Chinese or any other food, but simply great food) as it is today.

 

~

 

In comparison with the meal experienced at Chef Liu’s, the lunch we had at Baraonda really did feel like we were dining in another land and gave so much scope for reflection. Beginning with the décor, Baraonda exuded its Italian roots from floor to ceiling with rich, dark woods, paintings and tapestries and bottles and bottles of wine. The tables were long and rectangular and hence conducive to course-based meals as compared to Asian ways of eating, although we did dig into the pasta as a class and chose to forgo sticking to the courses.

IMG_20160323_135445

I was slightly more fortunate in terms of remembering to document our experience, and I think this picture truly captures the action of feast.

The food itself was incredible; what I found striking was my realization that while Chinese cuisine focused on achieving balance, Italian, (and most European cuisines) instead highlighted one or two flavors, textures or aspects of the dish. Most made the very ingredients the star of their dish – the mushroom and seafood pastas exemplified this. While the bruschetta emphasized the freshness of the tomatoes and kept them as close to their true form as possible, the lasagna is nothing without its sauce, which traditionally takes up to three days to prepare. I found this particularly interesting because it made me realize that Italian meals rely more and more on cooking with the progression of each meal. A dessert is not typically composed of raw or near raw ingredients; baking can well be considered a science, while dishes like lasagna would never be served as an appetizer.

 

Finally, the meal would not possibly be considered a success (just like this post would be incomplete) without the actual quality of the pasta. From its cooking time (al dente) to its taste, one could really tell the difference between the food we ate and factory made pasta. What I found particularly interesting was the use of different shapes of noodles in both meals, thicker noodles and pasta with ridges were used for heavier sauces, with delicates types were used for lighter companions. What I found surprising on speaking with my professor was that not all the pasta was made fresh in the restaurant. This revelation once again got me thinking about the “authenticity” of the food I was enjoying and had me wondering about the cooks that had prepared our meals, their ethnicities and training. What I learned though, is that culture need not be strictly inherited by birth, but can be learned and curated with passion for food and cooking.

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.

Domain Entry 6: Why Stuffing Myself with Dumplings is Reflective of My Mexican Immigrant Food Traditions

The car ride to Chef Liu had left me feeling deeply nauseous, and thus I was unable to fully appreciate the simple décor and the friendly atmosphere that permeated the place. The waiters brought out trays stacked precariously with several dishes of assorted dumplings as I served myself some green tea in a little cup and tried to make sense of the Chinese phrases uttered in hushed, excited tones by those seated around me who spoke the language. They seemed to recognize the different sorts of dumplings, and I happily helped myself to whatever they reached for first.
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Chef Liu’s pork soup dumplings.
It wasn’t long before I had greedily gobbled down an assortment of dense, savory pan-fried pork buns, pot stickers plump with salty, minced meat and vegetables, and boiled dumplings stuffed with crab meat and splashed with a bit of vinegar. The Shanghai juicy steamed buns were by far my favorite. After being quickly instructed on the best method of eating them, I fished one out of its wooden steamer with my duck spoon, poked a hole in it with my chopstick, and tipped it back. As I bit into the tender dumpling, a simple broth flooded my mouth and balanced the saltiness of the stuffing. The tea absorbed the oil from the dumplings that thinly coated my tongue. As I sat back and rubbed my full belly, the waiters appeared unexpectedly at my shoulder laden with large bowls of hot soups, noodles, and stir-fries.
chef_liu_crab_dumplings
Chef Liu’s Shanghai juicy dumplings.
I quickly glanced around the table sporting an incredulous expression. It was only then that I noticed that I was one of the few at the table who seemed surprised to see more food. I was also amongst the few who had completely stuffed themselves with the dumplings. As I guiltily drank some more tea, I reflected on the fact that I had not kept the philosophy of balance that infuses Chinese culture in mind. In other words, in my haste to taste the delicious food presented so warmly to me, I had forgotten to try and truly experience it like a Chinese person might in my ethnographic attempt of understanding Chinese food traditions. The more I consider my approach to eating at Chef Liu’s, the more I understand the extent to which my native food traditions differ from Chinese food traditions. When I lived in Mexico, food was not always present in abundance. Restaurant visits were very expensive, and thus, we ate what we could at home. I will never claim that my family’s food traditions are a result from want because we never went hungry. However, I have no familiarity with any Mexican dish that is traditionally prepared as an appetizer; thus, the idea of slowly making my way through a meal consisting of several courses was never practiced in my own home. In short, we ate to fill ourselves as easily as we could.
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Traditional Mexican food is not presented to guests on large platters. It is unusual for guests to pass around plates laden with food because they are served their own plate full of food directly from the kitchen.
The significance of this simple truth becomes more evident to me now that I have thirteen years worth of experience to consider as an immigrant in the melting pot of cultures that is the United States. The food traditions of a Mexican immigrant living in the US differ from the Mexican food traditions practiced in Mexico, just like the cultures of Mexican immigrants differ from the cultures of Mexicans natives who live in Mexico. With this in mind, I am only able to provide a Mexican immigrant’s perspective on food traditions and by doing so contribute to the narrative of immigrant food traditions that this week’s readings have touched upon.
Family.
Mi familia.
Like many Mexican immigrants, my family and I have never been rich. Our way of life has been molded by frugality and practicality. Like the Chinese, we value the moments in our day in which we can sit down at the table and socialize with each other over a tasty meal. However, in order to succeed in this country as an immigrant, many sacrifices must be made. This particular food tradition was one of them. Chapter 7: Eating Out and Gastronomy offers Mexican street vendors as an example of an economy of food that is “fast, portable, and usually accessibly priced.” I think this describes Mexican immigrant food traditions perfectly. When cooking, my mother thought it senseless to buy numerous different ingredients to make several different dishes that would provide us with a multicourse meal but would necessarily require more money and time in its preparation and consumption, money and time that none in the family could spare. What’s more, the richness of the Mexican dishes enables them to stand alone on the table. To me and my family, cooking a multicourse Mexican meal makes about as much sense as cooking both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner in one evening.
My mom recently sent me this picture of a quick breakfast my sister cooked for her while taking a study break from her engineering courses and preparing for work at the same time. The dish consists of a hearty omelette infused with Asadero cheese, beans cooked in spicy chorizo, and bread because we'd run out of tortillas.
My mom recently sent me this picture of a quick breakfast my sister cooked for her while taking a study break from her engineering courses and preparing for work at the same time. The dish consists of a hearty omelette infused with Asadero cheese, beans cooked in spicy chorizo, and bread because we’d run out of tortillas.
I hold a deep respect for Chinese food traditions. The notion of balance is so deeply integrated in Chinese food traditions that it can be witnessed in even the simple consumption of tea to counteract the oiliness of certain dishes. The circumstances that have shaped my life as an immigrant in this country have prevented me from experiencing in truly authentic Chinese food traditions that require balance in the type of food that is eaten as well as the pace at which it is eaten, but I look forward to continuing to learn to experience food like the Chinese do in my future observations of Chinese culture.

Restaurant Reflections by Cecillia Bae (CHN/ITAL190)

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This past week, I was able to take two very fun (and educational) field trips to a Chinese and Italian restaurant with our class. While I knew my experiences would be nothing but delicious, I was also happily surprised to realize how authentic both places were, in terms of the décor and dishes served. Chinese food has definitely a staple cuisine in my childhood. Spending eight years in Jakarta, Indonesia allowed me to have this experience: there always has been an incredibly large Chinese influence on Indonesian culture and cuisine, which meant that there were always roads of delicious, genuine Chinese restaurants for me to feast at. Other than that, the well-known restaurant Din Tai Fung was also situated only 20 minutes from my house, which meant that I became a regular customer. After going to Chef Liu’s that day, it was remarkable how much this restaurant resembled the ones I had eaten at in Indonesia.
Chef Liu's
Chef Liu’s
When we first walked in, the décor itself was remarkably Chinese- there were no fake Chinese fans or fortune cookies lying around that are so often placed at Chinese-American restaurants. It was interesting to see lines of old-fashioned square television sets on the wall next to our table; I’ve seen this strange placement of televisions frequently at Korean restaurants I’ve eaten at in Korea (maybe this is an Asian thing? Who knows). I was also pleased to see that our table had a “lazy Susan” on it, which I’ve never failed to find at any Chinese restaurant I’ve eaten at. It was also satisfying to eat Chinese food for the first time in the States that was not “orange chicken” or any other hybrid of Chinese/American cuisine. We had genuine Chinese food in the forms of noodles, Chinese pancakes, shredded potatoes, and so forth. The dishes so similarly resembled the dishes I ate at Din Tai Fung, which despite being such a globally placed Chinese restaurant, still radiates its traditional cuisine and culture. My favorite dish had to be the He Fun noodles with chicken/beef.
He Fun noodles
He Fun noodles
Granted, since it is a restaurant situated in the US, there were still tinges of American influences on the dishes. For example, the sweet and sour soup tasted suspiciously like ones I had tasted when I ordered Chinese take-out. Regardless, the American influences on the food were very minimal, which is impressive seeing as so many Chinese restaurants set up as traditional places, and slowly evolve into places intended on satisfying their American customers. Secondly, the Italian restaurant we ventured to, Baraonda, was pleasantly traditionally Italian. It was the second Italian restaurant I’ve been to in Atlanta, and I was not disappointed. While some parts of the décor like the decorations, the walls, etc. carried a rustic theme, other items such as the glass bottle on the table holding water for customers (instead of waiters running around with pitchers willing glasses up) was similar to many other Italian restaurants I’ve been to before.
Décor of Baraonda
Décor of Baraonda
My favorite dish was the seafood pasta dish we ate- the seafood was so fresh, and the savory flavor was similar to ones of seafood pasta dishes I had eaten in Italy when I visited years ago. Overall, I was pleased to find that my experiences there were nothing short of an authentic, Italian one. These trips really did put the dishes and ideas we learned about in class into perspective- it was very interesting seeing dishes like bing dishes in real life, when we had read about them in poems weeks back. It was definitely the highlight of this class so far!

Artusi at Baraonda’s (Angela Jiang, CHN 190)

Good food, good company under the blessing of "Eat, Drink, and be Married!" Though none of us may be married just yet, the quote itself may be a play on "Eat, Drink, and be Merry!", connoting that being married is a way to be merry. We were certainly at least merry.
Good food, good company under the blessing of “Eat, Drink, and be Married!” Though none of us may be married just yet, the quote itself may be a play on “Eat, Drink, and be Merry!”, connoting that being married is a way to be merry. We were certainly at least merry, and found our own merriment via a new culinary experience.

“Can I take shotgun on the way back?” a carsick Dania said to a carsick John and I once we arrived at Chef Liu for our very first culinary excursion of the week. We rested for a few minutes in the lobby of the restaurant before heading on in, but once the carousel of piping hot Chinese appetizers were served, the sour memory of being carsick prior were quickly erased. Out of the two culinary excursions of the week, I learned more vividly from what I found to be novel: I had grown up with most of the dishes that were served at Chef Liu (and have been to the restaurant a few times as a child since it’s well known among the Atlanta Chinese community). The décor wasn’t particularly striking to me as I had been to so many Chinese restaurant donned in the same authentic manner, with a front side of the restaurant with normal tables and a wooden enclosure, which housed the massive circular banquet tables we sat at. The enclosure resembled a traditional Chinese siheyuan, or the central courtyard in the middle of a Chinese house.
Courtyard view of the entrance, which is traditionally a circular shape. Every other side of the courtyard is surrounded by part of the house, which wraps around the center.
However, not everything served at Liu’s was familiar to me: I ended up writing about the Spicy Sliced Potato Dish (酸辣土豆丝), marveling at how I found out this was such a common dish when potatoes are rarely used in Chinese cuisine. We all know of rice and wheat being the staples of Chinese noodle culture, but the potatoes were so thinly sliced in the dish that they almost seemed to resemble noodles. Besides from being absolutely delicious, the dish incorporated the Chinese value of moderation by facilitating digestion: one of the words in the Chinese name, 酸 (suān) means sour, which gives a nod to the usage of vinegar in the dish, which helps with digestion. I was delighted that I had learned something novel at Chef Liu’s, and upon reflecting on the experience in this post, it’s gotten me to appreciate my mother’s cooking and our family outings to Chinese restaurants much more fondly.
“The best sauce you can offer your guests is a happy expression on your face and heartfelt hospitality.” — Pellegrino Artusi
And now over to the excursion that was especially novel to me: lunch at Baraonda. I had been leading a life riddled with mediocre experiences at “Italian” establishments, and what I learned at Baraonda paired quite accordingly with what I’ve read recently about Pellegrino Artusi, founding father of Italian cookbooks. The establishment was a jolly embrace between modern and rustic: the interior was modeled for a countryside Italian look, yet the music and clientele told otherwise. While we dined on divine pasta, The Chainsmokers blared above us. A trip to the restroom took us through a throng of Midtown professionals on an elegant lunch break. As I keep exploring what it means to be an Atlantan with my friends, what I saw at Baraonda personified my conception of being an Atlantan: being young-spirited in a big city, yet coexisting and integrating effortlessly the bounties of other cultures and lifestyles, in this case, the Italian identity. Each dish was divine, yet one specific aspect of the pasta struck me most vividly: the seemingly perfect allocation of sauce to accompany the noodles. My most favorite dish was the penne checca, simply consisted of Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and garlic. We got to experience firsthand how the ridges and shapes of the pasta accompanied certain sauces and flavors better (I’m such a linguine checca would have a distinct character of its own), and what al dente truly was: the penne was one of my favorites because it truly was almost crunchy.
No image can encapsulate the incredible tastiness of each dish at Baraonda.
No image can encapsulate the incredible tastiness of each dish at Baraonda.
When we finished up every dish, I was struck by how little sauce was left over in the plate: it made me feel good that we weren’t wasting much at all. “Italian American” food is overly generous in all aspects: portion size, ‘breadsticks’ accompaniment, and especially in sauce allocation. This is where Baraonda has righteously stayed true to the values expressed in Pellegrini’s “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangier bene”, in which he emphasizes, “guard yourself from gluttony.” Indeed, Roman and Medieval Italian power was wielded by the popolo grasso (‘fat people’), or the rich. While land laborers starved, the banquets of the rich featured exotic animals, pies that consisted of at least five respective meats, and furthermore were back-to-back throughout the day. There were even vomitoriums for the wealthy to expel their overindulgences, simply to come back and gorge on more. Pellegrini published the first cookbook that condemned such overindulgence, and started the foundations of what we know today as the more healthful Mediterranean lifestyle and diet: he trimmed down the number of courses in the rare “elegant dinner suggestions” and shrunk the size of each of these respective courses, and was a great believer in fresh, healthy food and being active (“Those who do not do physical labor should eat more sparingly than those who do”). Indeed, the popularity of his book made heartiness and richness in Italian food an antiquated virtue. Although I was full at the end of dining at Baraonda, I was by no means “stuffed”, or did I feel the sickly feeling of having eaten too much “rich stuff”. Just as my Chinese heritage values moderation as I mentioned above, I was pleasantly surprised to find the same at Baraonda. As Artusi would say (as applicable to sauce in this case): “I love what is beautiful and good, wherever it is found, and I am repulsed when I see, as it is often said, the ruination of God’s gifts. Amen.”

Taste of Chinese/Italian Restaurants by Jonathan Brown

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In today’s society, in which the developmental approach to viewing food is at an all time high, eating out has become more and more prevalent to the point to where it is absolutely normal. In my personal experience, there were weeks in my childhood in which my family and would eat out about five times a week rather it was at a fast food place or a typical restaurant. Eating out has become so normalized that it seems strange to think that this phenomenon started fairly recently when looking through the scope of humanity. In fact, from reading Chapter 7 of Eating Culture, I learned that eating out was not always viewed favorable. I find it very intriguing that the Russians of the 1700’s found eating out as detrimental to the                                           social norms since it put people of the higher class in the same setting as people of lower classes. However, one of the things in the reading the most was the topic on authenticity of the Chinese food (or any ethnic food) in restaurants. These restaurants were originally opened as a places for people of similar ethnic backgrounds to eat at, but then evolved as places for the general public. The authenticity of ethnic cuisine is determined by the individual restaurants which make judgments based on variables such as customer’s tastes, etc to determine what to offer and how to offer it. The tricky part is that the restaurateurs must have food that is exotic yet not too different from what the customers are used to. I can see why this task could be quite difficult because this whole idea is oxymoronic. Interestingly enough, I went to both field trips our class had to a Chinese and an Italian restaurant Chef Liu and Baraonda Ristorante                                             respectively. I feel like my experiences to these places were pretty good and I do feel like they were pretty authentic although not completely. Both restaurants were decorated nicely with a lot of beautiful decor that are representative of their culture. Another thing I liked was the jar the water was in in the Italian restaurant. I though it was pretty but I was really confused at first but later realized that this was probably and authentic feature of Italian cuisine. I found the Italian food to be really fresh and I was pleased with the tastes, especially the lasagna. The Chinese food was also quite tasty and I feel like there were a lot authentic dishes served such as the fried and steamed dumplings as well as the various noodles we had, all of which I have never had. I also thought it was neat for them to serve tea for us although they made it an option, whereas in Chinese culture, tea time is a major part in having a meal served to the point            where it is served independently, like an appetizer. I believe that this part of the meal was where the workers of Chef Liu tried to meet half way with American culture. Another example of the workers trying to meet half way to suit the tastes of customers was the fact that in the Italian restaurant, there was bread at the table despite having bread with pasta is frowned upon in Italian culture as learned from the movie Big Night. Overall I have enjoyed both restaurants, and I feel like both were delicious and despite some minor accommodations to suit American tastes, I thought that they were pretty authentic, especially for ethnic American restaurants.        

Traces of Italian food in my life

Come to think of it, Italian food has always been around my life. I lived in diverse places throughout my life: childhood in South Korea, teenage years in Singapore, 2 years in military, several months in Belgium then now in Atlanta. Back in South Korea, I could not distinguish Italian food. I regarded any non-Korean dishes such as pizza and spaghetti as American food. My parents definitely brought me over to many kinds of restaurant but perhaps I was a rather nonchalant kid. As I got older, I began to recognize different national cuisines. It began in Singapore where traditional Singaporean dish would mean Chinese, Malay, Western or Indian food due to the cultural diversity. Slowly I learnt to recognize and distinguish other cuisines; Greek, Mexican, French, Italian. To be honest I never realized pizza, macaroni and spaghetti were actually Italian cuisine until I was grade 9 or so. It was my first step in learning Italian food. I remember I always adored the Western food stall in my school canteen. Western dishes were my favorites and I always preferred spaghetti to fried noodles or rice in school. Then high school graduation came within a blink of eye. I have had yet to try “real” Italian food. Right before military enlistment, my family went to Europe (France-Italy-Switzerland) for vacation. It was my first time visiting Italy and I was excited to eat pizza in Naples. All my fantasies and imaginations on Italian cuisine shattered when I was served a plain Naples pizza with barely any toppings visible. It was weird. There was no traces of meat, olive, onion or pineapple. I had never seen any pizza like this before. Besides Italian cuisine, I fairly enjoyed French cuisine. Never in my life have I ever tasted escargo and foie gras. Certainly my first authentic Italian tasting experience was not that memorable. Back then, my concept of Italian food was entirely based on “Americanized” and “Globalized” Italian dish. Perhaps I was still not ready to have my perspective rendered. Right after getting discharged from military, my family was invited to a tasting dinner at a French restaurant in Korea. It was my first time dining with French. Little food, abundant wine and endless conversation, everything felt so new to me. This was the dinner that opened up my perspective on national cuisine. It was the night that encouraged me to experience the “authentic” cuisine of the world and break out of my old concept on food. Surprisingly in Belgium, the Italian restaurants were no different than those in Korea. The Italian restaurants around my house were basically selling simple take-away pizzas and pastas at cheap price. I expected to experience various authentic European dining in Brussels but most of my meals consisted of cheap waffles, breads, sandwiches and frozen food. It was here in Atlanta that I had a chance to experience authentic Italian dish. Unlike in Italy, I was prepared to accept and learn the ‘non-Americanized’ Italian cuisine. The restaurant was called Davio’s, located near downtown. I could not understand nor recognize any dish on the menu. There was no usual names like “Bolognese spaghetti with meat balls”. I had to ask the waiters for brief description of each pasta before ordering one. The waiter was kind enough to explain the dishes in simple English like “This comes with tomato sauce and basil. Similar to tomato spaghetti but different in some ways”. I do not recall the names of other dish but I clearly remember the waiter asking if I wanted cheese on my pasta; not an Italian thing to do as I have learnt in seminar class. Baraonda Ristorante was the second Italian restaurant I visited in Atlanta. Besides lasagna, other dishes were new to me. IMG_3206 It was interesting to hear how this pasta, as shown above, represents the flag of Italy. Cheese and noodles represent the white fraction, tomato represents the red section and the vegetable on top represents the green fraction of the Italian flag. One thing I noticed was how the sauce was just appropriately enough for the noodles. There was neither excess noodles nor sauce. They were in perfect balance and quantity. I still cannot believe how it took almost 20 years for me to accept the real Italian cuisine. It just showed how difficult it is to open up one’s perception for changes. It is already difficult to change a perception on a food, then how much harder would it be to change a perception on a person, organization or a country? Yet I am glad I was able to open myself up to changes, it was never too late nor too early. I cannot wait for another experience like this that would enhance my perception, knowledge and emotion towards Italian cuisine.

Domain Entry 6 Sukyung Kim

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The Chinese restaurant that I was able to visit was located in Doravile, where there are numerous Asian restaurants, such as Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisines. Although I have been to Doravile several times, I have never thought there would be such an authentic Chinese restaurant, because most of Chinese restaurants I have visited only had Americanized Chinese food, such as General Tso’s chicken and KungPao chicken. The food I had at Chef Liu truly reminded me of Chinese food I had when I visited China years before. Out of the foods we had, I really liked dumplings, both non-fried and fried ones and the chicken that came out last.IMG_9350 This chicken seemed that it was cooked with a lot of potatoes, and one of our classmates asked Dr.Hong whether Chinese eat lots of potatoes or not. The question and answer from Dr.Hong were both interesting. The unique thing about chicken is that this menu really reminded me of Chinese cuisine by the smell. My assumption is that there is a Chinese cilantro, which makes the smell pretty strong, but every time I had Chinese food in China, I was able to smell the same thing as I smelled from that dish. Although I really enjoyed dumplings and chicken, my favorite dish was the black noodles with vegetables like cucumbers and carrots.IMG_9344 The sauce was unique; the color and taste reminded me of Zhajang sauce, but it was also quite spicy. Because of its unique taste, I could not stop eating this dish, though it was very cold when I got to the restaurant. A lot of the classmates really enjoyed this dish. Besides the dishes that I liked, there were various dishes, mostly noodles, and I regret now that I could not taste each of them. IMG_9347 IMG_9354 IMG_9359 Not only the dishes, but also inside decoration of the restaurant was, in my opinion, very authentic. I could see red color everywhere, and there were some traditional paintings hanging on the wall. Mostly importantly, there was a moving table on each table, so everyone can share dishes, which is the most common aspect of Chinese cuisine. Overall, I really enjoyed the restaurant. Reading the documents after the visit, I was able to compare the theoretical content of the documents with my experience of actual visit to a restaurant. I was surprised that the origin of restaurants was first street food that fed hungers, and restaurants became a place for travelers or those who did not have kitchen. Today, going out for dinner is more likely a positive event than a needs-based event in a family. However, I agree with the document “eating culture” that “eating-out is not just about having access to food, but is about making important social and cultural statements”, since I was able to feel the authentic Chinese vibes while I was at the restaurant. Perhaps, numerous Americanized Chinese restaurants are also capable of giving an insight of Chinese cuisine to those who do not have any experience of Chinese culture and its cuisine.

Restaurant visit- Andrew Phee

I visited the restaurant on March 21st. Students from Chinese/Italian Noodle class were all invited to the restaurant called Chef Liu. I was able to make it to only Chef Liu because I had class on Thursday and the time was very ambiguous. The field trip to the Chef Liu was very fascinating.

chef liu 01

I have went to other Chinese different restaurant other than Chef Liu. Such as, there is one very close by near Emory University, Golden Buddha. The setting were really amazing. When the students got into the restaurant we saw all the dishes being on the table. Table sheet being covered with red sheet, and when I was eating I really thought I was eating in China. Like I would’ve expected the foods were authentic and fantastic. But, it was a little different from Golden Buddha. In Golden Buddha I could taste similar taste as Korean food. In contrast, in Chef Liu, all I could taste was the real Chinese food.

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The importance I found from visiting the restaurant was feeling the bonding with friends and tasting more of the healthy Chinese food other then fast food. Experiencing the tradition tea, vegetables, cold noodles and other foods that were laid out. As in the reading, (Eating-Out and Gastronomy) in Eating Culture, finding food away from home can be challenging. These days when people say let’s eat out; it usually means “let’s just go out and eat something that’s easy to eat”. For example, pizza, hamburger, and other fast food. I wasn’t able to really “eat-out” because I was stuck in campus and it was too much for me to go out of the campus. But from Chinese/Italian seminar class I was able to really eat out at a real restaurant, and sit down and eat. In the reading there was a question, “How can the ethnic food marketed to Americans be authentic, and will Americans’ like the Chinese food.” I have ever worried how the Chinese food really started out in America and do Americans really like the food. In the text it says the challenge for the restaurants is to serve their patrons’ needs for authentic, exotic cuisine, while at the same time being palatable for their American tastes. Authentic restaurants are constructed by cuisine of their ethnicity but adapted to the ingredients and tastes of the restaurant’s location. Ethnic restaurants suggest the cuisine of a cultural homeland but serve the cuisine of a new homeland, a staged authenticity examine the constructs of authenticity and Americanization as contrasting strategies to create an economically viable market niche. I loved the food taste of Chef Liu but I would really love to taste Chinese food in China. I am very thankful to those who actually brought cuisine and started up the restaurants so that us, immigrants, can still feel like we are back in the home country again.12915130_863942580398523_1624186849_o

 

D6: Eating-out at a Italian Restaurant

Unlike long ago, when we had to actually visit a particular country to experience its culture, today, we can easily experience different cultures in one place at second hand by various method that had not existed before. Restaurants are one of them, which contains  one culture not only in food but also in other factors that make up one food culture. By visiting Italian restaurant last week, and reading “Eating out and  Gastronomy” ,  I could understand more in depth about one culture.

Until I read “Eating out and Gastronomy”, I realized that I never thought about what kind of changes a certain culture had to go through in order to be in current shape of restaurant.  According to the reading, it is mentioned that eating at home was only considered “safe”. Long ago, it wasn’t very normal to eat out, which is considered very normal nowadays, and that even restaurants where customers could seat and enjoy the meal weren’t something usual and rather street food was considered normal. This whole new facts made me think of my own culture. I realized that in Korea, restaurants first started as some form of street food. When public transportation was something uncommon in societies, people used horses as tools of transportation. However, there was a limit to a speed and people usually couldn’t arrive at the destination in one day and had to stay at a certain place on the way called ‘jumak’. People were allowed to stay overnight and also eat meals on their ways. Although you could “sit” down and eat, it wasn’t somewhere you would go and eat occasionally as you would go to restaurants nowadays.

I am not sure if my experience at a pizza restaurant in Italy was some form of street food that was on its progress to be a restaurant. However, when I visited this pizza restaurant in Italy, it was shaped just like any other restaurant but there were no place to sit, just like street food. That pizza restaurant might have maintained such method for economical issues or traditional issues. It did not struck me as it did now after knowing the history at that time.

I feel like although I could not perfectly relate such historical feature to the restaurant we went as a field trip, I could still notice different cultural feature in food itself. The Italian restaurant, Baraonda Ristorante, certainly was authentic. Although there are many Italian restaurants around us, they are customized to certain culture that is located in. In Korea, where I grew up the most, it was very common for people to go out and eat pasta but something that is Koreanized. Pastas that I tried at the restaurant were something that I have never tried. Some of the dishes like Lasagna were similar, however I could feel that some dishes indeed tasted like the “authentic” Italian food.