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Chinese Cuisine in the United States

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 1831 words Published: 23rd Jul 2018

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Since last century, Chinese food has become very popular throughout the United States. The history of American Chinese food begins before the 20th century. During the Gold Rush in California, a lot of Chinese immigrants came to the United States to build railways. They started making Chinese food in the United States, and after the Second World War, numerous numbers of Chinese restaurants have been built in this country. Since that time, people can easily find a Chinese restaurant in any city of any state. The reason why Chinese food is so popular in America is because many Americans love it. Although, most Americans do not actually know that most of the Chinese food they are eating in the United States is not authentic. American Chinese food tend to focus more on American style cooking, and contrast significantly from tradition Chinese food. Most Chinese food in the United States is deep-fried or stir-fried, but authentic Chinese food is not. Americans should know that they have the option for a better Chinese diet, which is more delicious and healthier. American Chinese cuisine should be replaced by authentic Chinese cuisine because American Chinese cuisine is unhealthy for us due to the cooking’s poor quality.

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Chinese American cuisine started adapting to unhealthy cooking methods. The foundation of American Chinese food started when Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States. The first group of Chinese immigrants came from the Guangdong Province of China mainland. When they just arrived in the United States, they tried to make their hometown food. It was impossible for them to find raw food materials and traditional ingredients here. Cooking authentic Chinese food has a stringent requirement for raw food materials; the requirement requires all meat and vegetable products to be fresh. The Chinese immigrants only used all of what they could find for cooking. When railroad work was no longer available, the Chinese workers started to open restaurants. Their main customer groups were Caucasians Americans and Americans usually prefer a sweeter taste in their food. Thus, in order for the Chinese immigrants to make profits from their restaurants, the Chinese food chefs had to alter the taste of their hometown food to satisfy their local customers. Traditional Chinese food is usually saltier with rich flavors. Although, sugar is a very common ingredient for most dishes in the United States, so Chinese food chefs eventually started using sugar far more often for their dishes. Not only that, MSG (monosodium glutamate) is used very often in American Chinese cuisine for a flavor enhancer to stimulate the customer’s appetite, and to mask meats that are not fresh. Some problems MSG can lead to are diabetes, headaches, obesity, and addiction to MSG products. All these methods are definitely not a natural and healthy way to make food, leading American Chinese foods with higher fats and calories.

The lack of professional chefs is another reason to explain why American Chinese food is dissatisfactory. As mentioned above, the earliest Chinese food chefs were railroad workers. They had never been trained to cook. In China, there are a lot of cooking schools. They provide different styles of cooking lessons and a beginner normally needs to spend two years to graduate. There are also eight distinct Chinese cuisines in China: Shandong, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Fujian, Hunan, and Anhui. However, American Chinese cuisine only develops from Guangdong cuisine, so many other authentic Chinese cuisines have not even been exposed in America widely. American Chinese chefs though, they usually learn of the skills from other previous chefs and lack a lot of experience and knowledge. As mentioned previously about adding sugar to their dishes, a lot of cooks use it as a method to cover their inexperienced cooking techniques and make their dishes taste more desirable to the American taste. The American Chinese chefs eventually started to create their own dishes as well. Today, a very popular and good example would be Orange chicken. Orange chicken is deep-fried chicken covered with sweet soy sauce. It is the most popular Chinese dish in the United States and it is usually served at most Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately, in China, no one has ever heard of Orange chicken because the American Chinese chefs created it in the U.S. Therefore, many American Chinese dishes you may have experienced in the U.S., could be foreign to many people in China.

American Chinese cuisine is also fast food. The bad dietary habit of Americans leads American Chinese food to be unhealthy. Americans like fast food, so Chinese American restaurants often cook quickly. They normally can prepare one dish in five minutes, but in an authentic Chinese restaurant, a dish would normally take more than fifteen minutes. How can they cook that much faster? It is because they only use one cooking method, which is frying. Fried foods are most definitely unhealthy for us. It can damage our body and brain in many ways. Fried foods can also cause us to be overweight and lead to obesity. A large percentage of people in the United States have problems with their weight. In recent years, people have turned their attention to their daily diets and claim that it is time to give up fast food. Most people only think restaurants such as McDonald’s or KFC are fast foods, but American Chinese cuisine is also considered fast food. The quality of the food is poor and cooking authentic Chinese cuisine takes more than simply one method of cooking. American Chinese restaurants simply finish your orders in 5 minutes! You can either sit down to eat it or take it home. When you order Chinese take out and go back home to enjoy your delicious orange chicken, you call your friend and tell him you are having Chinese food…No! That is not Chinese food. It is American Chinese food and that is fast food.

However, many Americans would disagree with the idea of replacing American Chinese food with authentic Chinese cuisine. The Chinese cuisine in America is westernized to appeal to Americans and that is what they are most familiar with. It would be equivalent to taking their “Chinese food” away, because technically American Chinese food was invented and invested in America. The Chinese food here is deep-fried, grease-soaked, and as well as imitated (i.e. imitation crab). That sounds a lot like most American foods and replacing American Chinese cuisine would be the same as taking away America’s invention of Chinese food. Another factor is complication. The idea of replacing American Chinese cuisine with authentic Chinese cuisine would most definitely use a lot more money and time. That time and money would go into training new chefs, establishing new restaurants, investing in many new cooking styles, and the list would go on. Also, most Chinese restaurants in America are well established and are spread across the states. It is not easy to change something that became successful in its own ways. It is not saying authentic Chinese cuisine is bad, but Americans find American Chinese food good, and in America, if something is good, then there doesn’t need to be change.

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It is true that changing American Chinese food to authentic Chinese food will be complicated, but that complication is worth the investment. Unlike the American Chinese cuisine, authentic Chinese food is a lot healthier. Food is very important to Chinese culture. Most Chinese people are highly likely to pay attention to their daily food. The most important nutritional concept is “Yin” and “Yang”. Yin means cold. Yang means Hot. Every food has a specific way of heating or cooling human’s body. For example, most spicy foods and meats are generally thought to be Yang. Then, green vegetables and soup are thought to be Yin. An authentic Chinese chef would know of the concept and know how to incorporate the concept to make a balanced meal. In an American Chinese restaurant though, meat is always the main role on the table, which is totally against with the “Yin” and “Yang” concept. Authentic Chinese cuisine not only promotes a more balanced meal, it promotes a healthier diet, and this is important for changing the bad dietary habit in America as mentioned earlier. Of course an investment such as this would take up a lot of time and money. It doesn’t hurt to start small or at least give it a try. Already well-established American Chinese restaurants should consider lowering the number of fat contents and calories as well as balancing their meals in order to promote a healthier diet. New Chinese restaurant chefs should consider going through extensive training, study Chinese culinary, or develop different choices of authentic Chinese cuisine other than the main Guangdong cuisine that most people are familiar with. Yes, if something is good and familiar to us why change it? Although in America, they also love change! If the change is for the better, why not give it a try? America should certainly attempt some effort to give authentic Chinese cuisine a try.

Chinese cuisine restaurants are still spreading rapidly throughout America. Americans should know they have the choice for a more delicious and better diet, therefore Chinese cuisine should be replaced by authentic Chinese cuisine because American Chinese cuisine is unhealthy for us due to the cooking’s poor quality. Most American Chinese restaurants adapt to unhealthy cooking methods, inexperience techniques, and also Americans should know that most Chinese food they are eating is also considered unhealthy fast food. There should be a Chinese food revolution; people should limit themselves fried Chicken and sweet meat as a choice for Chinese food. The only way to escape from this vicious circle fast is to hire many professional educated Chinese chefs from China and start establishing from there on. However, realistically speaking that may be far complicated and may cost a lot of money. Then again, if the change is worth the investment people should certainly give it a try. Some small starting up ideas include, already established restaurants to alter their meals to promote the “Yin” and “Yang” balanced meal concept, new chefs to consider being well educated and trained first, and also encouraging restaurants to create more other authentic Chinese cuisines that differs from today’s dominant Guangdong cuisine. Variety will bring more culture to the Chinese cuisine and also shows that Americans have better choices to choose from rather than that orange chicken they always order. A lot of people are guilty of that, but if authentic Chinese cuisine can be brought up in America, then we can start bragging about the real good Chinese food we are having.


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