"Chicken fried rice, sweet and sour pork, and an order of onion rings, please."
Chinese restaurants in small town Canada are at once everywhere - you would be hard pressed to find a town without a Chinese restaurant - and yet they are conspicuously absent in critical discussions of Chinese diasporic culture or even in popular writing about Chinese food. In Eating Chinese, Lily Cho examines Chinese restaurants as spaces that define, for those both inside and outside the community, what it means to be Chinese and what it means to be Chinese-Canadian.
Despite restrictions on immigration and explicitly racist legislation at national and provincial levels, Chinese immigrants have long dominated the restaurant industry in Canada. While isolated by racism, Chinese communities in Canada were still strongly connected to their non-Chinese neighbours through the food that they prepared and served. Cho looks at this surprisingly ubiquitous feature of small-town Canada through menus, literature, art, and music. An innovative approach to the study of diaspora, Eating Chinese brings to light the cultural spaces crafted by restaurateurs, diners, cooks, servers, and artists.
Lily Cho is an assistant professor in the Department of English for the Universoty of Western Ontario.
Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada is a fascinating look at the ways in which Chinese immigrants related to mainstream Canadians through the food they prepared and served ... Cho is an engaging, lively writer ... There is much for the general reader to enjoy in the book.
‘Eating Chinese makes a major contribution to Chinese diaspora studies through its attention to small town Canada.’
‘Eating Chinese is powerful and rare work of criticism… This book generously points us forward, inviting us to imagine how acts of remembering a past that is not yet past could help clarify “work that has yet to be done”.’