Chinese food is a hot topic among Americans. 20% of recent American films feature Chinese food scenes. Despite the stereotypes, Americans are curious to try more Chinese dishes. But before we go any further, let’s examine some common misconceptions about Chinese cuisine. These include:
Generational differences in tastes for Chinese food
Some exciting studies highlight generational differences in tastes for Chinese food in the U.S., including the recent survey of Chinese university students in the U.S., which showed that participants tended to favor “yin” foods in summer and “yang” foods in winter. They also thought that some foods had healing and others had damaging properties.
The differences between American and Chinese cuisine are most visible in how food is prepared. Westernized kitchens generally prepare meat in a butcher shop, whereas Chinese cooking uses the kitchen to cut and prepare hearts. The result is that the meat used in Chinese cuisine is usually duck or chicken. Westerners would describe such dishes as “restaurant food,” whereas Chinese natives would describe them as “homemade.”
The study found that Chinese immigrants from Western countries mentioned TCM more often than mainland Chinese. The difference between the two groups was likely due to different degrees of acculturation. Although Chinese immigrants who grew up in the U.S. spoke English, they were more likely to be exposed to American foods.
While it was impossible to determine why certain foods were so popular or unpopular, these findings are exciting. They suggest that it may be essential to encourage the practice of dietary diversity. In China, for example, over 50% of the population is overweight, and chronic disease is the leading cause of death. Therefore, it is crucial to encourage families to cook and eat distinct kinds of food. This may be an excellent way to create a new social norm that promotes family harmony.
The study showed that Chinese immigrants in America have a wide range of dietary preferences. While their parents preferred Chinese food, their children were likelier to choose Western foods. Despite the differences in taste, both groups often ate meals in a Chinese style. However, the older Chinese immigrants had fewer interactions with other cultural groups and were dependent on their intra-ethnic networks to communicate with others. Their preference for food was primarily based on texture, cultural knowledge, and dietary preferences—other factors influencing the choice of food included age, affordability, and convenience.
The second wave of Chinese immigrants brought regional Chinese cuisines to the U.S., including Taiwanese and Hong Kong. These immigrants introduced dishes such as kung pao chicken, orange chicken, and moo shu pork. While many of these dishes have a strong American connection, they are not authentically Chinese.
Stereotypes of Chinese eating dogs
Stereotypes about Chinese eating dogs are pervasive in America. These images have been perpetuated by anti-Asian propaganda. Those who have immigrated to the United States from China and other Asian countries have been associated with barbaric practices such as eating dogs and rats. For example, the “Heathen Chinee” stereotype has been used to justify white supremacy. But it’s not the truth. Only a tiny minority of Chinese eat dogs, and their practice is limited to the country’s south, particularly the Guangxi and Guangdong provinces. For example, Yulin has a festival celebrating dog meat and lychee.
Dog meat festival organizers defended their actions to celebrate local traditions and the local economy. However, animal rights activists and celebrities have criticized the practice. Even though dog meat is considered a delicacy in China, the course is prohibited in some areas. As a result, many Chinese communities in the United States are moving toward banning dog meat, which has become a controversial issue.
The stereotype that Chinese people eat dog meat in the United States stems from xenophobic assumptions and differing cultural norms. While dog meat is not a staple food in China or Korea, it is still served occasionally in Asian restaurants. However, dog meat consumption has waned in recent years due to changing attitudes toward dog eating in the United States.
Although the Yulin dog meat festival is banned in Yulin city in China, its practice has never been completely stopped. The Chinese government denies involvement in the festival, describing it as a local custom. Despite the growing opposition, the festival continues to draw international attention. As a result, some restaurants in Yulin have already removed signs advertising dog meat.
Although the stereotypes of Chinese eating dogs are inaccurate, they are deeply rooted in anti-Asian prejudices. The Chinese Exclusion Act, for instance, resulted from these racist assumptions. Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States in the early 1800s, when the media reported on their opium dens and rat meat, generating a climate of racism.
American attitudes towards Chinese food have been evolving over the past few decades. During the twentieth century, Chinese cuisine was one of the most popular ethnic foods in the country. The number of Chinese immigrants increased eightfold in the 1960s, triggering a boom in the Chinese restaurant business. These restaurants had nearly identical menus and served cheap and plentiful food. They became a part of the American landscape, allowing immigrants to integrate more easily into the country.
Before the 1960s, minor authentic Chinese cuisine was available in the United States. The most popular Chinese dishes in the United States were centered on Cantonese cuisine, one of eight regional Chinese cuisines. This changed with the liberalization of immigration policy, which brought new immigrants from the Mainland, Hunan, and Taiwan to the U.S. A wave of new immigrants also got Chinese food from Taipei and Hong Kong.
In the early 1970s, President Nixon’s visit to China sparked a renewed interest in Chinese food. Reports from Beijing described the banquets served to dignitaries, and the northern and Hunan styles of Chinese cuisine made their way to the U.S. In the United States, the new food became so popular that it spawned Chinese restaurants in towns and cities across the country.
The Chinese community in Washington, D.C., is not as large as that of other major Chinese cities in the Mid-Atlantic United States, but it is growing, and the Chinatown area is gentrifying. The city’s status as the nation’s capital has also boosted its local Chinese presence, and the influence of Chinese cuisine is increasingly prevalent.
The American consumer is becoming increasingly sophisticated in their appreciation of ethnic foods. However, most people in the United States know little about the grand tradition of Chinese cuisine on the mainland. They know deep-fried and sugary Chinese food. While they may have fond memories of these dishes, their American version has little in common with the savory and nutritious dishes of the mainland.
Understanding why American attitudes towards Chinese food are so one-dimensional is essential. The answer to this question can be found in a more general study of tastes and interests. For example, an American culinary school graduate who claims that Chinese food is one-dimensional can equally say the same thing about French food. It’s essential to recognize that the hierarchy of taste is closely tied to the order of interests.