We Want Just Like Mama Used to Make!
We, the members of this Chinese Quest, as soon as we sit down in a restaurant, go out of our way to explain our food wishes to our humble waitstaff as soon as we are asked for our dinner order. We explicitly explain in our own way “we would like you to suggest a traditional meal for us that will give us an appreciation for your food”. We would further explain “order and serve us food that you would serve to your family if you brought them to this restaurant”. We don’t do this to confuse. We do this because we normally are presented with the common “Americanized” Chinese menu which has morphed over the years from what originally may have displayed a proud Chinese Heritage to what has become a listing of what has sold well in American Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately, that evolution has taken with it some of the many nuances and flavors that make the food culture original and proud.
The reason I bring this up now is to express my complete disappointment when our server the other evening answered our request for a traditional Chinese meal with the first suggestion of “how about General Tso’s Chicken“? STOP…. PLEASE STOP! Your are embarrassing yourself and a culinary heritage that should be allowed to stand up and be proud. General Tso had as much to do with Chinese cuisine as Yankee Doodle had with discovering macaroni.
My suggestion for the future servers we encounter is, if you can’t think of anything your restaurant can make that epitomizes the traditional meal we are asking for in our Quest, just tell us. Do not instead suggest what may be the equivalent of McDonald’s chicken nuggets with spicy sauce. You wouldn’t eat it with your family and neither will we.
Thanks for listening.
Chow for Now
Mee Gonzi Biao