Sorry for the late post, but it’s been pretty busy here preparing for the ServiceAsia Concert, an event for raising awareness about service needs in Asia and to celebrate the launch of our sister site, East Villagers Non-Profit Community. Everything went pretty well, so we’re glad that all our planning and hard work came to fruition. However, that doesn’t mean that we should neglect our writers. =P. That’s why I used “Procrastination” as the title for the post for the past couple of hours. As you may know, though, Procrastination was a SAPL topic back on April 9th of 2008. Let’s get to the bottom of the real issues and concerns of our SAPL faithful.
Chinamerican says, “My dad worked in the restaurant industry in NYC for a long time and he would tell me things like how “real Chinese people don’t eat fried rice; you just get it at the end of banquets in case anyone else is hungry but it usually gets taken home.” I wonder if this has anything to do w/ a related Asian trope – getting something extra – since Asians love freebies with their stuff.”
It would seem as though Chinamerican is in the same situation as me when it comes to Asian restaurant and banquet etiquette. When it comes to restaurant food, my mom (and grandmother) always said that I should eat the best (most expensive) foods and avoid rice at all costs. That meant getting steamed and buttered salmon instead of chow mein; raw oyster instead of coconut shrimp. Why and how do they determine the worth of a food item though? It’s very simple when they know the prices of the raw materials used to make the food. Asians always analyze food bought in terms of labor and raw materials before they even consider buying it.
In search of the correct combination of food that would please me as well as my mom and extended family, I had to sacrifice my craving for the common chinese food in favor of the more expensive food items. At times, I would get mundane food items to see their reactions: when it was fried rice, they would say, “why are you eating that? I can make that any time!” and “Oh.. you got that…” When I laid down the steamed salmon smackdown, though, my critics would always praise me with comments about how smart I was for choosing the best food items. You should really try that next time you go to a restaurant or buffet with an Asian person.
Now, some of you may not have a problem with fried rice, but older Asians do. It’s starchy, it fills you up, and it’s only there as a filler just in case someone isn’t full by the end of a meal. It is the oblivious non-asian (or second generation asian) person that usually devours the fried rice. They will usually garner the unwanted attention of old women and mothers, all of whom think they are wasting money on a crappy bystander food. That’s why there’s usually a lot of fried rice left over after weddings. This is especially evident when older people are at the table. They would rather eat the healthier and more expensive food than fill themselves up on filler food from “fast food” restaurants. However, that doesn’t stop them from bringing it back home to their children or grandchildren in zip lock or to-go boxes. Asians always seize the opportunity to get free stuff, as Chinamerican said. Freebies are always welcome. NOTICE: I am not condemning rice here. It is a staple to Asians and a majority of the world. All I am saying is that Fried Rice is not as important as fried fish when asians go out.
What, then are the accepted norms of Asian people at real Chinese Restaurants? More traditional dishes like Compound (stir-fry, diced) chicken, chicken feet, battered squid, frog legs, sauteed spinach, and steamed or fried catfish are usually ordered by the typical Asian family. Moreover, a side dish like sweet and sour soup will be administered if you are dining at lunch time in some restaurants. This is a far cry from the stereotypical asian dishes like fried rice, chow mein, orange chicken, and fried rice (yes, I did mention it twice). Let’s not forget the typical red/black/green bean dessert or coconut agar (my mouth is watering already).
Even as a Vietnamese food enthusiast (who would eat a horse if he was hungry enough), I would never order Fried Rice at a restaurant. For some odd reason, though, people continue to believe that it is a staple Asian Food. It’s most likely a direct result of fast-food chinese restaurants that offer quick and tasty dishes for a cheap price (Panda Express). It’s just wrong to believe though. The truth is that Fried Rice was actually designed to use leftover rice. It’s quite elementary when you break it down: Fried rice is created from cold/frozen leftover rice that has been instantly sauteed, fried, and seasoned to perfection on a wok in a few minutes. Try making fried rice with fresh rice and you’ll see what I mean. For that reason: In some Chinese families, it’s an insult to serve it to guests at all. It would be the equivalent of serving leftover spaghetti in an italian household. (It’s definitely not amoré).
I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is that Asians don’t like eating Chinese Fast Food. Once in a while, we do give in (like anyone would), but that’s usually because the item is being served at a Buffet or at get togethers where people aren’t willing to cough up money for extravagant food. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that Chinese Fast Food is not a staple for asians but for the culture-hungry american crowd. The next time you’re in a fast food restaurant, you’ll get what I mean.
Thanks Chimerican for your wonderful observation. It was really cool getting to bring in personal experiences from my life into a post that directly affects me every time I go to eat with my family (but I digress). We’re always happy to read your submissions and contributions on Stuff Asian People Like.
Until next week, Stay foolish and don’t stop being inquisitive.
This is Stuff Asian People Like writer Peter Nguyen signing off.
Last 5 posts by Peter
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- #141 - The Colbert Report / Conan O'Brien Show - January 23rd, 2014
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