November began with Eater.com’s first ever Chinese Food Week, which included stories, insider’s favorite restaurants, and other foodie perspectives. Five American cities were featured. This content is good to keep in your back pocket:
In contrast to that Chinese food lovefest was Bonnie Tsui’s article in the Atlantic, "The End of Chinatown." Yes, economics and migration shifts are some of the reasons behind the decline of traditional Chinatowns in America. Chinatowns are moving outside of the urban core to the suburbs. My strategy: Follow the Asian markets!
Chinese Food Week and Tsui’s piece made me think of Andrew Coe’s Chop Suey and Grace Young’s write up on the history of chop suey in Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. Chinese-American food and history buffs should check out those books!
Online Asian Markets
If you can't explore nearby brick-and-mortar Asian markets, do it virtually. Some interesting ones I stumbled upon: (If you have experience with these or others, do share!)
- An online Vietnamese market based in the heart of Little Saigon in Westminster, California. Among the goodies at Vietnamesesupermarket.com are pho kits.
- For lots of standard Japanese ingredients, Asianfoodgrocer.com, based in San Francisco, may do the trick.
- I have no idea where Asiansupermarket365.com operates from but they have a decent looking inventory.
- iShopIndian.com is well organized. There’s even a Chinese-Indian section and newsletter.
Food Art & Humor
Wondering about the photo at the top of this post? It is the clever work of Chinese artist Liu Bolin. I discovered his pieces in a slideshow on a Wall Street Journal site. Bolin gets painted up to melt into his surroundings. Aside from the slideshow, see his vanishing acts at the Eli Klein gallery.
Food, labor, and art converge in Sharon Lockhart’s compelling “Lunch Break” exhibit, currently at San Francisco’s Modern Museum of Art. Her photos and film record the daily life of workers at a historic Maine shipbuilding yard. I was flattered and honored when the exhibit’s Lunch Break Times newspaper and blog invited me to contribute the banh mi recipe from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. Banh mi is working class fare that requires lots of work yet is often priced so low.
Michael Pollan’s appearance on The Colbert Report is funny and makes you think about not eating at your desk. Watch it here.
Yes, there are health food markets in East Los Angeles. Per Javier Cabral’s charming Spanglish-laden post on Zocalopublicsquare.org, there are folks in East LA who love la soya!
If you celebrated Thanksgiving, hope you had a good one.