Food Media


What is "Real" Chinese Food


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What is "Real" Chinese Food

Pookipichu | Dec 4, 2013 07:42 AM

I've read yet another review of a Chinese restaurant in New York where the writer tries to circumscribe Chinese cuisine within the parameters of his or her own limited understanding.

What is "real" Chinese food? Why is this writer even using the term "real" Chinese food as opposed to evaluating the merits of the food in the context of modern Chinese cooking, good vs. bad food. I don't read about "real" Italian food vs. "proudly inauthentic Italian food". I find this type of behavior and tone is almost always, exclusively applied when talking about Chinese food, and especially in NYC. As if Chinese food is some monolithic, fossilized cuisine where 1.2 billion people eat the same thing as opposed to having a huge range of diversity, ingredients and tastes.

There are thousands of restaurants, millions of cooking households in China, using different techniques and ingredients. Not to mention the diaspora of millions of Chinese emigrants who have established new traditions and cooking in their adopted countries.

This is contrasted with the almost never mentioned lack of "authenticity" of other cuisines. Many common ingredients in French and Italian restaurants are not even native to their respective countries. In NY, many preparations of European foods have little resemblance to how the foods are prepared in their native countries. Foods are judged good or bad, not authentic, in-authentic.

Chinese cuisine is not limited to a wok. Nor do inferior products/produce denote "authenticity" in Chinese food. There is no "textbook" to Chinese cuisine. Innards are not the marker of an "authentic" Chinese experience. And the reviewer's coup de grace of cultural tone deafness, randomly referring to salmon roe as akura, to what purpose?

The number of offensive and blithely ignorant statements in this review make me question how a professional restaurant critic in a professional publication, could publish such drivel.

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