Food and Identity

The food that are common in my family are Chinese chicken soup, my grandma’s noodle soup with fried egg(荷包蛋), duck blood and vermicelli soup(鸭血粉丝汤), fried rice with eggs and some desserts include butterfly cookies(蝴蝶酥)and steamed dumplings(小笼包). I am from Shanghai China so that these foods are traditional Shanghai cuisines, especially eaten by the elderlies. Shanghainese people prefer sweeter and non-spicy food. Therefore, in all these food, I think we will add at least a little sugar. And they can be a little plain compare to other foods in China, like Sichuan foods, but these foods will make the eaters comfortable and satisfied. Also, because Shanghai is a city with a lot of western influence due to historical reasons, our food also reflected a combination of western and Chinese culture. For example, butterfly cookie is traditionally a western dessert but it’s very popular among the Shanghainese. However, after I came to the US, I discovered that the western butterfly cookies taste very different than Chinese butterfly cookies, in which Chinese butterfly cookies add more milk taste and less sugar into the cookies to meet Chinese’s taste preference. Thus, from Shanghainese butterfly cookies, I can see a mix of Chinese and western culture because this dessert preserves the shape and basic taste of western cookies while at the same time makes a few improvements to let it fit Chinese people’s taste. So, we can see a perfect combination of western and Chinese culture just from the butterfly cookies.

In addition, chicken soup, noodle soup and fried rice with eggs are personally very important to me. My mom sometimes cooks chicken soup to add more nutrients to my diet because she believes that after cooking long hours, the chicken will release its nutrients into the soup and make the soup taste delicious without adding any seasoning. Therefore, when I am really tired of homework, my mom always cooks me a bowl of chicken soup. To me, this chicken soup represents my mom’s love and her support to me. In fact, chicken soup is one of the things that I missed the most about China. Moreover, fried rice with eggs are important to me too because it represents my independence from my parents and my ability to cook for myself. After I went to Emory University, I experienced a huge food difference between China and US. In China, most of the vegetables are cooked and processed with salt, sugar, etc. However, in the US, I found lots of people like to eat salad, in which the vegetables are totally uncooked and cold. Because of this food difference, I decided to learn how to cook during the summer vacation back home. My mom taught me how to cook the simplest fried rice with eggs by just adding some salt, shallot, meat, pea and wine. By cooking this in the US, I got a taste of China and my family, and gain the ability to feed myself with my own effort.

I know there are Chinese and Korean communities in Atlanta, mainly around the Buford Highway area. In fact, Buford highway is my favorite place to go when I want to get a taste of Asian food. The first Chinese food I got in Atlanta is a Chinese hot pot called Chinese Little Sheep. In fact, the food there didn’t really meet my expectation because the soup was plain and the meat we had are not so fresh. Moreover, the seasonings are not as diverse as they are in China. Therefore, the first time in that restaurant was a little disappointed to me. However, I did get to talk to some Chinese in Chinese Little Sheep. She told me she was originally from GuangDong province in China. She had stayed in US for nearly 30 years. She had come back a few times to China, and she was surprised by how much China had changed in the past few years. Moreover, I went to lots of Korean restaurants in Atlanta too. I felt these restaurants make better Korean food than Korean restaurants in China. My favorite cuisines in there are the Toufu Soup and the Beef Ribs Stew. The Toufu soup has the tastes of spicy, sour and sweet. With the extra egg added and the hot rice beside, it will be a perfect choice of dish for winter. Beef Ribs Stew is to steam the beef ribs, mushrooms and eggs for hours to get all its taste into the soup. The method is very similar to some of the Chinese soup so that I could find a taste of home from that soup. Because of this, I kept coming back to that Korean restaurant to have the soup. Thus, I got familiar with the Chinese and Korean ethnic groups in Atlanta by going to their restaurants.

2 Replies to “Food and Identity”

  1. Thanks for the post! It was very detailed and informative. I would encourage you to also discuss how these dishes have influenced you as a person, how they could be helpful to you in more significant ways.

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