Chop Suey
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Chop Suey : A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States

3.41 (401 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In 1784, passengers on the ship Empress of China became the first Americans to land in China, and the first to eat Chinese food. Today, the United States is home to more Chinese restaurants than any other ethnic cuisine. In this authoritative new history, author Andrew Coe traces the fascinating story of America's centuries-long encounter with Chinese food. CHOP SUEY tells how we went from believing that Chinese meals contained dogs and rats to making regular pilgrimages to the neighborhood chop suey parlor. From China, the book follows the story to the American West, where both Chinese and their food struggled against racism, and then to New York and that crucial moment when Chinese cuisine first crossed over to the larger population. Along this journey, Coe shows how the peasant food of an obscure part of China came to dominate Chinese-American restaurants; unravels the truth of chop suey's origin; illuminates why American Jews fell in love with egg rolls and chow mein; and shows how Nixon's 1972 trip to China opened our palates to a new world of cuisine; and explains why we still can't get dishes like restaurants serve in China. The book also shows how larger historical forces shape our tastes-the belief in Manifest Destiny, the American assertion of military might in the Pacific, and the country's post-WWII rise to superpower status. Written for both popular and academic audiences, CHOP SUEY reveals this story through prose that brings to life the characters, settings and meals that helped form this crucial component of American food culture.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 149.86 x 210.82 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 30 black and white halftone illustrations
  • 0195331079
  • 9780195331073
  • 622,883

Review quote

"A wide-ranging look at the interaction of Chinese food and American society and a fascinating melange of gastronomic tidbits and historical nuggets."--Wall Street Journal"An enlightening study of America's fascination with Chinese food, from our first epicurean envoys in 1748 to the plethora of Chinese restaurants of every caliber that dot the landscape today."--Barnes & Noble Review"If my family's knowledge of real Chinese food was stunted-- and we weren't alone--Andrew Coe's engaging history tells why."--Seattle Times"Coe's delightful book is a bit of 'odds and ends' itself, with pages on the use of pidgin, Chinese-kosher cuisine, the new look of San Francisco's Chinatown after the earthquake, the connection of Chinatowns with white slavery, and the Kon-Tiki craze for Cantonese food. The Chinese food we get is mostly a hybrid; Coe has documented a cuisine that may not always be authentic Chinese, but is a genuine American success story."--Columbus Dispatch"According to food writer Coe, America's taste for Chinese tea goes back more than two centuries, and so does our confusion about the use of chopsticks. In this brief but ambitious volume, he chronicles the back-and-forth story of our relationship to the Middle Kingdom, its people and, above all, its food...Like its subject, the book is a little bit of a lot of different things at once--a solid and comprehensive sampling of a much larger topic."--Publishers Weekly"Coe's ever-surprising history brims with plenty of enchanting anecdotes. "--Booklist"Andrew Coe draws on the history, politics and cuisine of two hungry nations to tell one of the most fascinating stories in east-west cultural history: how Americans learned to stop worrying and love Chinese food."--Laura Shapiro, author of Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America"This book will take an important place on a growing shelf of works that seriously tackles the conjunctions of food, migration, and ethnicity in America."--Hasia R. Diner, author, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration"Chop Suey is a dish with crispy vegetables, crunchy noodles, and leftover meat or poultry which balances texture and flavor. It was created in the early 20th century with good reason-most Americans were not as sophisticated about food as they are today. In his immensely likable and detailed history, Andrew Coe tells us why early generations of Chinese restaurant owners like my mother and father-in-law served the food that they believed Americans liked instead of cooking the food that they themselves loved to eat."--Susanna Foo, two-time James Beard Award winner, and recipient of the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence"I always wondered how it was that the rich variety, delicacy, and refinement of Chinese cuisines got translated into Chinese takeout from restaurants in every town in America. Coe tells riveting stories of the ups and downs of American-Chinese relations in both countries through our cross-cultural exchange of food. I couldn't put this marvelous book down, but now it's time to eat--Chinese, of course."--Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University"His research among U.S. sources is solid, and his chronicle interesting and informative, especially regarding Nixon's trip to China."--Library Journal"If you know what people eat, why they eat it, and how they eat it, you know a lot about the people. In Chop Suey, Andrew Coe's meticulous scholarship and engaging story telling combine for a page-turning, mouth-watering tale of two cultures and how they relate. I recommend it to all world leaders, diplomats, and everyone who loves Chinese food. No joke!"--Arthur Schwartz, author of Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited"The story of America's love-hate relationship with Chinese food ... is told in this well-researched, lively and digestible book. Some of its tales of misconceptions of the Chinese and their food are hilarious, some are shocking."--Financial Times"Andrew Coe is a very fine writer indeed ... [He] takes deeply researched historical information and presents them smoothly, telling stories that are packed with fascinating details to bring a subject we think we know into much clearer perspective."--WritersCast.com "A wide-ranging look at the interaction of Chinese food and American society and a fascinating melange of gastronomic tidbits and historical nuggets."--Wall Street Journal"An enlightening study of America's fascination with Chinese food, from our first epicurean envoys in 1748 to the plethora of Chinese restaurants of every caliber that dot the landscape today."--Barnes & Noble Review"If my family's knowledge of real Chinese food was stunted-- and we weren't alone--Andrew Coe's engaging history tells why."--Seattle Times"Coe's delightful book is a bit of 'odds and ends' itself, with pages on the use of pidgin, Chinese-kosher cuisine, the new look of San Francisco's Chinatown after the earthquake, the connection of Chinatowns with white slavery, and the Kon-Tiki craze for Cantonese food. The Chinese food we get is mostly a hybrid; Coe has documented a cuisine that may not always be authentic Chinese, but is a genuine American success story."--Columbus Dispatch"According to food writer Coe, America's taste for Chinese tea goes back more than two centuries, and so does our confusion about the use of chopsticks. In this brief but ambitious volume, he chronicles the back-and-forth story of our relationship to the Middle Kingdom, its people and, above all, its food...Like its subject, the book is a little bit of a lot of different things at once--a solid and comprehensive sampling of a much larger topic."--Publishers Weekly"Coe's ever-surprising history brims with plenty of enchanting anecdotes. "--Booklist"Andrew Coe draws on the history, politics and cuisine of two hungry nations to tell one of the most fascinating stories in east-west cultural history: how Americans learned to stop worrying and love Chinese food."--Laura Shapiro, author of Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America"This book will take an important place on a growing shelf of works that seriously tackles the conjunctions of food, migration, and ethnicity in America."--Hasia R. Diner, author, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration"Chop Suey is a dish with crispy vegetables, crunchy noodles, and leftover meat or poultry which balances texture and flavor. It was created in the early 20th century with good reason-most Americans were not as sophisticated about food as they are today. In his immensely likable and detailed history, Andrew Coe tells us why early generations of Chinese restaurant owners like my mother and father-in-law served the food that they believed Americans liked instead of cooking the food that they themselves loved to eat."--Susanna Foo, two-time James Beard Award winner, and recipient of the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence"I always wondered how it was that the rich variety, delicacy, and refinement of Chinese cuisines got translated into Chinese takeout from restaurants in every town in America. Coe tells riveting stories of the ups and downs of American-Chinese relations in both countries through our cross-cultural exchange of food. I couldn't put this marvelous book down, but now it's time to eat--Chinese, of course."--Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University"His research among U.S. sources is solid, and his chronicle interesting and informative, especially regarding Nixon's trip to China."--Library Journal"If you know what people eat, why they eat it, and how they eat it, you know a lot about the people. In Chop Suey, Andrew Coe's meticulous scholarship and engaging story telling combine for a page-turning, mouth-watering tale of two cultures and how they relate. I recommend it to all world leaders, diplomats, and everyone who loves Chinese food. No joke!"--Arthur Schwartz, author of Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited"The story of America's love-hate relationship with Chinese food ... is told in this well-researched, lively and digestible book. Some of its tales of misconceptions of the Chinese and their food are hilarious, some are shocking."--Financial Times"Andrew Coe is a very fine writer indeed ... [He] takes deeply researched historical information and presents them smoothly, telling stories that are packed with fascinating details to bring a subject we think we know into much clearer perspective."--WritersCast.com" "Andrew Coe draws on the history, politics and cuisine of two hungry nations to tell one of the most fascinating stories in east-west cultural history: how Americans learned to stop worrying and love Chinese food."--Laura Shapiro, author of Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America "This book will take an important place on a growing shelf of works that seriously tackles the conjunctions of food, migration, and ethnicity in America."--Hasia R. Diner, author, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration "Chop Suey is a dish with crispy vegetables, crunchy noodles, and leftover meat or poultry which balances texture and flavor. It was created in the early 20th century with good reason-most Americans were not as sophisticated about food as they are today. In his immensely likable and detailed history, Andrew Coe tells us why early generations of Chinese restaurant owners like my mother and father-in-law served the food that they believed Americans liked instead of cooking the food that they themselves loved to eat."--Susanna Foo, two-time James Beard Award winner, and recipient of the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence "I always wondered how it was that the rich variety, delicacy, and refinement of Chinese cuisines got translated into Chinese takeout from restaurants in every town in America. Coe tells riveting stories of the ups and downs of American-Chinese relations in both countries through our cross-cultural exchange of food. I couldn't put this marvelous book down, but now it's time to eat--Chinese, of course."--Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, andPublic Health at New York University and author of What to Eat "If you know what people eat, why they eat it, and how they eat it, you know a lot about the people. In Chop Suey, Andrew Coe's meticulous scholarship and engaging story telling combine for a page-turning, mouth-watering tale of two cultures and how they relate. I recommend it to all world leaders, diplomats, and everyone who loves Chinese food. No joke!"--Arthur Schwartz, author of Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisitedshow more

About Andrew Coe

An independent author and food historian, co-author of Fois Gras, A Passion (Wiley, 2000) and a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America, Andrew Coe has also dined at Chinese restaurants around the world.show more

Rating details

401 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 13% (51)
4 35% (139)
3 36% (145)
2 14% (57)
1 2% (9)
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