Anne Mendelson Cited Me

Just today I was reading my copy of Chow Chop Suey that I bought several weeks back at the AAS Conference. A third of the way through the book, Anne mentioned the Suiyuan Shidan.

When I turned to the Reference section at the back to see what sources she referenced, I saw it. There.  Right smack dab there among the hundreds of other cited works was my name and the URL of this site.


Yes, it’s just a tiny citation, and yes she also cited Gene Anderson and Beilei Pu, but just let me bask in the glory for a bit. When I started this project more than 3 years ago near the end of my Doctorate I didn’t think that anyone would read this, much less cite it. But since then a good stream of people interesting in the Suiyuan Shidan and its translation has come here and used it as a research resource. Then quite recently Gene Anderson told me that he thought my translation was quite good, and then now the Anne Mendelson cites it? I am elated.

It’s good to know that you’re not a complete phony.

Anyways, back to Chow Chop Suey. It’s superbly researched, it reads like a joy, and it’s arguably better than any book written on the subject for either lay or academic readers. If the history of Chinese cuisine in North America is your thing, then this is your book.

Actually, you know what? If you’re reading stuff from this site, you should probably be buying one for yourself anyways. And just for completeness, get a copy for everyone your family 🙂

The Story of Every Restaurant I Ever Cared About.

Once upon a time, the new owner of a relatively famous restaurant wanted to cut cost at his little acquisition to start reaping in the cash. Naturally, he swapped out everybody who was good and cared about their work with a bunch of culinary school graduates and decided to switch to lower grade ingredients all around. After all, how many of those fressing fools with wallets out there could tell the difference? Or care? They should be happy just eating at his relatively famous restaurant!

For the first half of the year, business went swimmingly and much cash reaping was had. But then the old clients stopped coming back, and then almost imperceptibly, customers thinned out and thinned out until one day the once bustling restaurant space hung empty.

No more than two years later, the restaurant closed and what remaining assets were liquidated to pay the angry creditors. The owner, after the sordid experience decided that restaurants were not really his thing.

So he bought a lovely pastry shop down the street with the money he had made off with, just to see how things would fair with baked goods instead.

The Pacific – Ling Yu (太平洋 – 零雨)

Today, a small detour from the regular content: a gem of a piece of poetry by Taiwanese writer and poet, Ling Yu (零雨).

To me this poem evokes the experience of so many Chinese that have left our families and former homelands to pursue a dream on the other side of the Pacific. Here our cultural identities, habits, and thoughts slowly faded away, being washed and bleached to faint imprints and shadows.

Then one day, by accident, we rediscover pieces of our past like bits driftwood washing up on the beach. It is only then the we frantically try to reclaim and reconstruct our lost identities. As we are left wondering how we could have unwittingly abandoned all of these memories and emotion through the hurried blur of our lives, we find ourselves nurturing the next generation in our rather bewildered state, for whatever is to come.

The Pacific – Ling Yu
Losing ourselves, in the ocean. Carrying the entirety of
Our scattered fragments. Coursing towards the East. To that Promised-land

Emotions. Beliefs. Memories. Slowly distancing themselves.

At that time, we allowed our tears to fall in torrents. Trivial,
In the surging currents of the ocean. And we turn.
One day, we will turn. To welcome that which has drifted over from the other side.

Emotions. Beliefs. Memories. Riding that feeling
Of exhilaration. Causing our blood to re-emerge anew. Surprised at how
Surreptitiously, we gave away that moment. How. That moment
Had been forgotten through time.

I too have a child.
You are in my bosom

太平洋 – 零雨





UofT Booksale Season

My mom often complains that I dress worse than a streetfood vendor, which is completely fair considering I am constantly out-garbed by those guys in the Sushittos truck. This basically leaves me to compete for “worst-dressed” in my ward with that guy selling street-meat; sadly, a prize that I win regularly. But while others Torontonians are rendered penniless splurging on vacations, million dollar tool sheds, fancy shoes, and finely reassembled bits of cloth, my excuse is that I spend all my disposable income on books. And by my budget book, University of Toronto gets a fair chunk of it.

Fall is booksale season at the University of Toronto and I have been marking it on my calendar diligently each year since moving back. In September to October, the colleges in the UofT have their book sales to raise funds for various activities, much to the delight of Toronto bibliophiles.

One can find old and new anthologies, poetry collections, in-print and out-of-print novels of every kind, along with biographies of the famous, infamous, and the much less famous. Yesterday, I haphazardly found a pristine first edition of Margaret Lawrence’s The Diviners stuffed next to a copy of Key’s light but fun cookbook Food for the Emperor. I also saw a copy of the esoteric Culinary Comedy in Medieval French Literature for sale. And all for a fraction of the price if you had bought them off ebay or one of the mega bookstores. On top of that, books are half price on the last day and only several dollars a crate in the last few hours of the sale.

I also love the “feel” of these volunteer organized sales; shabby, chaotic, and packed with nerdy merchandise, like what you would expect if the local flea market had illegitimate children with the university library. As an added bonus, here a sartorially challenged book lover can walk and browse amongst poorly dressed faculty and students without standing out.

As of today sale season is half over, though there are still two more coming mid-October:

Not to be missed!!!