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New Changes of Chinese Cuisine in the United States

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New changes of Chinese cuisine in the United States

Student Name: Han Ding

  ID: 3233370

 Dr. Jenny Panchal

TO5203: Hospitality and Gastronomy: Social, Private and Commercial

18 May 2016

  1. Introduction

The World's 50 Best Restaurants is a list made by British magazine in 2002, the ranking is based on the vote of  international chefs, gourmets, restaurant critics and restaurant owners. In recent years,  it has been the most anticipated and most powerful ranking of gastronomy even than Michelin. The top restaurants on this list are often considered as forerunners of gastronomy. In addition, most of these restaurants serve high-class cuisine and show customers the art of hospitality (Martin, 2016). However, unfortunate for Chinese cuisine,  in the latest list in 2015,  there are only two restaurants from China (Shanghai and HongKong), and both of them provide French cuisine.

China as a country which has a long history of food and it is really proud of its culinary art, now its cuisine is popular all over the world and plays an important role in international gastronomy, but in some places it is still known as cheap and ethnic foodand lack of  hospitality, such as in America (Eisenberg, 2016). Therefore, this paper attempts to explore the history of Chinese cuisine in America, try to find out the reasons behind customersviews and seek the new changes in American Chinese cuisine.

II. Background and history of American Chinese cuisine

In the 19th century, the first Chinese immigrants settled in San Francisco because of the rumours of gold and were followed by thousands of  labour who helped to build the railways. All these labour were hungry for Chinese cuisine which reminded them of the country they had left behind (Rude, 2016). Therefore, at that time Chinese food was only consumed by the Chinese community.

Actually, until the World War II,  Chinese food started to be more mainstream. The numbers of the Chinese restaurants grew rapidly, because at that time prices in America rose up quickly, while prices in Chinese food didnt grow up to such high level as elsewhere (Danton, n.d.), it gave a big meal for the price. The fact is that Chinese food met and satisfied certain needs much better than the average salad, coffee, and this kin lunch. They were cheap and they provided a combination of the artistic and exotic, and they were efficiently managed. Most of the Chinese restaurants were decorated with Chinese lanterns and scrolls artistically , exotic tables and chairs carved with patterns. This pleasing and exotic picture, together with the unfamiliar in the items on the bill of fare, made a stimulus to appetites of Americans.

Moreover, the adaptation of  Chinese cuisine to American palates was an essential point in the of popularisation of Chinese cuisine in America. At first Chinese chefs would often have two menus: one for Chinese people and one for Americans, but as its popularity grew, the American-tailored menu came to dominate (Lapetina, 2014). In the early 20th century, American Chinese cuisine became sweeter, boneless, and more heavily fried. The vegetables such as broccoli and yellow onions which dont often show in actual traditional Chinese cuisine, started appearing on menus and fortune cook which is originally from Japan, ends up as a typical Chinese dessert. General Tsos Chicken, egg rolls, barbecued spareribs, sweet-and-sour pork, and beef with lobster sauce were all concocted to win Americans' appetites.

Besides low price and the adaptation of food, this is another significant reason was that in those days, there was no take-outculture, no Burger King, no McDonalds. And cooking at home on old-fashioned stoves was an exhausting experience. You were either rich, in which case you had a cook or dined in elegant hotspots, but if  you werent, and had no option but to eat at home. Chinese immigrants, banned from most jobs by the discrimination, found work in the cities primarily by working as servants, in laundries, or by opening restaurants that offered delivery and take-out food. Americans began to embrace their neighbour Chinese restaurants as special places where they could be treated to a meal they didnt have to cook, and began to appreciate the flavours of the exotic food. Actually, Chinese food was among the first to deliver food into the hands of consumers, and Chinese food became known for delivery, due to they delivered food right to Americans'  doorstep.

Nowadays, Chinese cuisine is one of the three most popular ethnic foods in America (Ma, Qu, Njite, & Chen, 2011), based on the data from the Chinese American Restaurant Association, there are more than 45,000 Chinese restaurants all over the United States. The number is even larger than all the McDonalds, Pizza Huts, Taco Bells, KFCs and Wendys combined (Rude, 2016).

II. Chinese cuisine and Hospitality

Chinese cuisine is well on its way to becoming the most popular ethnic food in the United States, and it does win warm praise from most Americans. However, unlike French cuisine or Japanese cuisine, which are concerned as fancy and foreign food, Chinese food is always identified as cheap, take-out food and lacks art of hospitality. According to Professor Krishnendu Ray, most Americans would hesitate to pay 50$ for Chinese dishes, but most of time they would not hesitate to pay 50$ for Japanese food. Actually, dinner for two people at a famous Japanese restaurant  in New York will soon cost more 1,300$ (Eisenberg, 2016). Both of them are Asian cuisines and both have exotic tastes and very different from western food, expensive Japanese dishes are just whats out there, but nobody wants to pay up for Chinese food. Why? There are some historical and realistic reasons.

2.1 Historical Reasons

When the Chinese started arriving America more than a century ago, Chinese food was despised as prepared with questionable ingredients. The newspaper even claimed that the Chinese ate dogs and cats,and the rats are also animals which occupies a large part of  Chinese foodin 1860 (Fisher, 2014), and the fiction continued throughout the years. Afterwards, despite the success of early Chinese restaurants in California, while in the 1960s, the biggest headache of American Chinese food arrived, a letter to the New England Medical Journal blamed monosodium glutamate(MSG) a food additive usually in Chinese dished should be responsible for a lot of unpleasant symptoms  such as dehydration, headaches, drowsiness, nausea and other symptoms after people eating Chinese food (Kivi,  2016). In spite of MSG has been proved as a safe ingredient now, and many Chinese restaurants claim that they dont add any MSG, however, with a lot of sugar salt and oil, until Chinese food is  still concerned as not that healthy compare to Japanese cuisine.



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