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Have You Eaten Still?: Tales from Chinese Dining establishments about the Globe

Cheuk Kwan (Cedric Sam)

Among the Chinese people today, the phrase “Have you eaten but?” is shorthand for “How are you?” This colloquial greeting, writes filmmaker Cheuk Kwan, “shows that you care. Because of war, famine and poverty, folks in outdated China did not often have more than enough to consume. Maybe that is how these terms grew to become an expression of concern for someone’s effectively-being.”

A companion to Chinese Eating places, Kwan’s documentary sequence, Have You Eaten However? tracks his before film shoots and even more explores the identities of Chinese communities outside China. To contemplate the factors major to the Chinese world-wide migration, Toronto-primarily based Kwan and his crew surveyed the diaspora by means of foodstuff and eating places, touching down on five continents and 15 countries, like Israel, Trinidad, Norway, and India.

“The term ‘Chinese food’ handles an location four occasions larger sized than Western Europe and the taking in routines of more than a billion persons, showcasing cuisines from 56 ethnic minorities – like Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians – as very well as the Han majority,” Kwan observes. “You could say there is actually no such detail as ‘Chinese food’ and, similarly, that there are just as quite a few hyphenated Chinese foods all-around the globe.”

Additional than culinary tourism, the guide portrays enterprising men and women striving for superior prospective buyers. Reflecting on Chow Hung Kong (a.k.a. “Noisy Jim”), who arrived to Canada as a paper son for the duration of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Kwan exhibits the impression this proprietor of the New Outlook Café experienced on the city of Outlook, Saskatchewan. Weary of toiling for her in-legislation, Chinese-Mauritian Colette Li Piang Nam began a noodle shack that produced into Chez Manuel, just one of the island’s best Chinese kitchens.

Industriousness, however, is not the only focus in this article. Fleeing China as Mao rose to power, the Wangs, a Muslim Chinese family members, produced the perilous trek throughout the Himalayas to Pakistan and then Iraq right before settling in Turkey. Traveling to their China Cafe in Istanbul in the 1970s encouraged Kwan to build Chinese Eating places. “Take a look behind just about every kitchen doorway and you will uncover a difficult heritage of cultural migration and world politics,” he notes. “The Jade Gardens and Golden Dragons that populate towns and towns from Africa to South America are intricately linked to the social schisms and political actions that propelled the environment into present day situations.”

Kwan writes about his very own multinational identity as effectively (he was born in Hong Kong and raised in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan). This cross-culturalism suffuses the narrative and is more augmented by historical details on migration designs and regional cuisines. Crammed with lesser-known details, these kinds of as China’s ancient maritime ties with Africa or the dominance of Chinese dining establishments in Peru’s eating scene, the narrative never ever flags.

Have You Eaten However? joins the expanding record of textbooks about places to eat and the Chinese diaspora. Further than conveying the perseverance and hope guiding these establishments, Kwan provides a stable introduction to the forces that shape expatriate Chinese cultures and identities alike.