Localization makes the Chinese food not Chinese

I have been to America once. I always remember the special flavor of beef noodles in America Chinese restaurant. It was totally different from Taiwan’s beef noodles. That is the first time I realized the word localization. Just like the adventure in Lee’s book “The fortune Cookies”, she found out that many dishes served in Chinese restaurants in America are unknown in China. Even the fortune cookies are not invented by Chinese. How this thing happened?

When Lee tried to find the greatest Chinese restaurant outside China, her friend asked her the question: what kind of Chinese food are you looking for? Is the Chinese food for Chinese or Chinese food for others? It is really an interesting question. It makes me think about Taiwan’s Mcdonald. Because of Asia’s food culture, Mcdonalds has combined the rice into their food, and launched the rice burger for a period of time. They tried to fit everyone’s flavor no matter is adult or children. It is a principle for all the restaurants. Therefore, Chinese food also has to be improved to fit America’s tastes. That’s the result localization makes the Chinese food unknown in China.

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Homeland Flavor

It is true that a traveler can change his or her appearance, habits and lifestyle, but it’s almost impossible to adopt a foreign taste completely. A person may move to other places and fit in to the new culture, but wherever he runs, the flavor of his homeland will always follow.

Several years ago, I had a chance to visit my friends who had moved to Canada. Since the moment that I got off the plane, I started looking forward to the Canadian style of touring, shopping and most importantly, food. Yet, to my astoundment, the first meal my friend made me was a bowl of genuine Taiwan homely noodle! My friend told me that though they had been in Canada for ten years and she has considered herself a Canadian, she still couldn’t get use to the Canadian food completely. She couldn’t, and wouldn’t give up the Taiwanese way of dieting, because that’s how she reminds herself of where she came from. Because of her Taiwanese background, her kitchen would never be the same with other Canadian. For the same reason, in the time which transnational immigration is popular, nobody’s kitchen is the same.


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The Overloaded Family

In the traditional Chinese value, family is the most important union in society. As a result, everyone is expected to take part in family affairs, and to look after to other family members. The Chu family is one of the typical cases. In Chu’s family, nobody seems to have the right to leave for their own goals. They all give up their chances to explore the world, and stay “for the other’s sake”. Little do they know that with such intense relationship, everyone desires for the freedom to walk away and create a new life. They all think that the others cannot live without the family, but actually it is this sense of responsibility that burdens and strangles everyone. Living under the stress, they can’t understand each other even though they live together, and the Sunday dinner table becomes an unbearable place where hardly anyone eats.

It struck me at the scene which all the daughters were staring depressingly at the whole table of delicacies with no one eating. I realize that Chinese family love tends to bind people together. They don’t want the family to scatter, but the effect of constraint is that people are close on the outside but distant on the inside. The heavy burden can not tie people together, only love, understanding and respect do.

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Nowadays, food from different cultures is being glocalized down to specific places where adapt them. Fortune cookie, for an example, is a Japanese invention that is adapted by Americans as Chinese food. One of the side effects to glocalization is the mixing of cultures. For instance, I’ve seen a Chinese restaurant in Canada, which is owned by Hong Kong people, serving Taiwanese food, and decorated in Japanese way. Clearly, the people there don’t care about the confusion of nations and cultures very much. In fact, I believe a lot of people don’t either. I was a little angry at first when I see that restaurant with a Fortune Cat (which is a Japanese icon) on the counter. I thought it was terrible for these people to mix up Taiwanese and Japanese culture. If they continue to do so, the Taiwanese and Japanese immigrant might be confused about their identities too. However, after I gave it a thought, I thought it is inevitable for some confusion in glocalization and adaption. Besides, these phenomenons also create some genius new inventions like fortune cookies and chop suey. So no worries! As long as the fortune cookies are as fun as they used to be, I am willing to appreciate the outcome of glocalization.

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Eat, Drink, Man, Woman

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
In Chinese culture, the round table is often associated with reunion and gathering. Round shape in Chinese culture symbolizes perfection and no losing of any piece, which can be seen as family members. As a result, Chinese people gather together and have meals with round tables very often. During having meals on round tables, people share the happiness during daily lives. People build solid affectionate bond with family. However, in the movie, the atmosphere is not as wonderful as people expect. From Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, I see the several major Chinese conservative values toward family. The Sunday dinner become routines to three sisters. They are used to conceal their real affections and emotions in front of other family members, and, consequently, the table serves as a platform for announcements of life-crucial decisions or astonished incidents. In my opinion, the lack of communication is the root of the problem. Since their mom no longer exist in their life, Father and daughters have lost the bridge of communication. And woman usually shoulders responsibility to take care of every thing inside family, house in Chinese traditional culture, and so does the oldest one. So, after their mom passed away, the oldest sister takes the role as Mom to herself and to her families. And that’s the reason why she leaves first. She thinks she have sacrificed her life to the family more than enough, and once she finds a husband she runs away from this burden. Because of lack of communication, there has been a knotted misunderstanding between the oldest and second sister. They don’t have the strongly relate to each other’s life. They are just, to each other, strangers who live at the same house.

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Stir-Fry represents… …

Stir-Fry represents… …

In comparison of melting pot and mixed salad, I am fonder of Lee’s version of taking American cultural identity as a stir-fry. Stir-fry, which is invented by Taiwanese, gives me more common characteristic and familiar connection to relate to what Lee wants to convey to us. There are various ingredients in a stir-fry, but it is blended together by a common sauce. A stir-fry doesn’t have good looking at all. Usually its appearance is a mess with mingling with various ingredients. However, the taste is terrific. To me, although the residents in America receive same education system and live in same country, the varieties between different races still exist. In Chapter 13, Lee is talking about many owners of Chinese restaurants in the U.S. live in misery. They become robbers’ targets easily since the handy cash and race differences. The discrimination, no matter light or serious one, still exists in their daily lives. Those beautiful American dreams are gone while I read this chapter. No matter the way of seasoning food and cooking food, the variety in each ingredient is not going to disappear or be covered by sauce. However, at the same time, it is because of the variety that makes American so attractive. There are tons of differences existing at the same time and place, and people can see all of them in the U.S. It also because of these differences that stimulate glamorous sparking of mingling of differences.

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Sunday Dinner

When I was watching the movie, the Sunday reunion dinner was what I related to the most. In our home, we also have this unwritten house rule. No matter how busy every member of the family is, every Sunday, we always try our best to be home for dinner. On the dinner table, no one is allowed to turn on the TV or slide through his or hers iPhones. It might seem strange to other families, however, for me it is a way of communication, which I appreciate fully. A small event like dining together around the dinner table is actually what glues the family together. It keeps the family informed of what everyone’s been busy on. Also, it’s a great place for us to share our problems or our worries. It makes me feel like no matter what kind of thunders or storms is waiting for me out there, I know there’s always a harbor keeping me away from all the waves.


Another scene of the movie which really struck my chord was when the daughters were eating the food Chef Chu prepared, and found that it was in fact not too salty but no one said anything to their Dad. Chef Chu as a chef, loosing his basic taste is like asking a colorblind person to admire the beauty of a rainbow. For him, chef is his identity, without him, he’d lost his importance. Therefore, the daughters, knowing the fact, beard with the foods. That was the act of true love of family.

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