Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants

Front Cover
John Jung, 2010 - History - 297 pages
2 Reviews
"Sweet and Sour" examines the history of Chinese family restaurants in the U. S. and Canada. Why did many Chinese immigrants enter this business around the end of the 19th century? What conditions made it possible for Chinese to open and succeed in operating restaurants after they emigrated to North America? How did Chinese restaurants manage to attract non-Chinese customers, given that they had little or no acquaintance with the Chinese style of food preparation and many had vicious hostility toward Chinese immigrants? The goal of "Sweet and Sour" is to understand how the small Chinese family restaurants functioned. Narratives provided by 10 Chinese who grew up in their family restaurants in all parts of the North America provide valuable insights on the role that this ethnic business had on their lives. Is there any future for this type of immigrant enterprise in the modern world of franchised and corporate owned eateries or will it soon, like the Chinese laundry, be a relic of history? Excerpts from Reviews I greatly admired and enjoyed "Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" It does an excellent job of going over the historical background on early U. S. Chinese restaurants, unearthing lots of material new to me. And the interviews of Chinese restaurateurs opened up a whole new side to the story, of what it was like to work and live in these restaurants. Andrew Cole, "Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States" "Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" tackles the long-neglected topic of Chinese food with a focus on Chinese restaurants. This well-researched, thoughtfully conceptualized monograph brings academic rigor and adds historical depth, as well as the perspectives of an insightful scholar and a second-generation Chinese American, to our understanding of the development of Chinese food in the realm of public consumption in the United States and Canada. It promises to elevate that understanding to a higher level... Through this book, I hope, consumers at the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants can also gain a deeper appreciation of historical forces and human experiences that have shaped the food they now enjoy. Yong Chen, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine. "San Francisco Chinese 1850-1943: A Trans-Pacific Community." "Sweet and Sour" covers many important aspects of the Chinese restaurant business and it is a great contribution to the study of Chinese food in America. This area really deserves more attention than it has had. Haiming Liu, Prof.Ethnic & Women's Studies, Calif. State Polytechnic Univ. Pomona. I am reading your delightful book, Sweet and Sour. I especially like the "Insider Perspectives" section. Those first-hand experiences can generate a lot of potentially testable hypotheses about how the Chinese were able to provision their remote restaurants with exotic ingredients while other ethnic groups could not. Susan B. Carter, Univ. of California, Riverside Reader Comments You've made some amazing observations, wrote them down with sincerity, and I wholeheartedly support you on it. You've brought back some fond memories and I'm sure it will touch other folks like myself that have gone through it. Dave Chow When reading Sweet and Sour, I was struck by how it is both a work of scholarship and a documentation of the experience of Chinese restaurant workers. It serves to teach us about their experiences on multiple levels. Heather Lee Brings back childhood memories as most of the people interviewed are from Toisan like my family. We could always go into a new town, drop in at a Chinese restaurant and be welcomed. Dad would run out and say, "they're cousins! Rosemary Eng
  

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John Jung has taken us down another memory lane and this time we brought along our appetite. Sweet & Sour evoked hundreds of memories of Chinatowns, favorite soul food dishes, haunts of opulent and ... Read full review

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Praise for "Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants"
John Jung has taken us down another memory lane and this time we brought along our appetite. "Sweet & Sour" evoked hundreds of
memories of Chinatowns, favorite soul food dishes, haunts of opulent and garish banquet halls and the more frequented and beloved hole-in-the walls. These are the collective memories shared by families and friends. Sweet & Sour is also an anthropological study. Chinese cooks across these United States and Canada created an everlasting love for Chinese food enjoyed by all cultures. Find a “chop suey” house and generations upon generations will cite their favorites, be it chowmein, fried rice, beef brisket stew or even chicken feet. Without a doubt this is by far Jung’s best work and with the greatest universal appeal.
Sylvia Sun Minnick, "Samfow: The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy"
John Jung again demonstrates a marvelous ability to blend archival data with fascinating first-person accounts to bring to life the family-operated Chinese eateries that are quickly disappearing from today’s society. Following solid historical groundwork, Jung uses narratives of 10 individuals who grew up in such places to take readers inside old-time chop suey houses. Their stories provide a candid telling of the personal, familial, and cultural significance of these familiar cafes. As with his earlier books on Chinese family-owned laundries and grocery stores, the author sheds a fresh and ample light on a subject even more familiar. And once again he does it so well from the inside out.
Mel Brown, "Chinese Heart of Texas: The San Antonio Community 1875-1975."
"Sweet And Sour" is a powerful historical exploration of an American institution: the family-owned Chinese restaurant. John Jung succeeds in bringing to life the exterior side of such Chinese eateries across the nation--their appearance, their location, and of course, their hybrid, Americanized menu offerings. In addition, by means of a variety of interviews and primary sources, he focuses attention as well on their little-known private side, the daily routines and harsh working conditions that made them run. Jung underlines the contributions of all family members, including children, that were necessary for success.
Greg Robinson, Prof. of History, University of Quebec, Montreal. "A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America"
"Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" tackles the long-neglected topic of Chinese food with a focus on Chinese restaurants. This well-researched, thoughtfully conceptualized monograph brings academic rigor and adds historical depth, as well as the perspectives of an insightful scholar and a second-generation Chinese American, to our understanding of the development of Chinese food in the realm of public consumption in the United States and Canada. It promises to elevate that understanding to a higher level... Through this book, I hope, consumers at the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants can also gain a deeper appreciation of historical forces and human experiences that have shaped the food they now enjoy.
Yong Chen,Professor of History, University of California, Irvine. "San Francisco Chinese 1850-1943:A Trans-Pacific Community."
"Sweet and Sour" covers many important aspects of the Chinese restaurant business and it is a great contribution to the study of Chinese food in America. This area really deserves more attention than it has had.
Haiming Liu, Professor of Ethnic and Women's Studies, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. "The Transnational History of a Chinese Family. Immigrant Letters, Family Business, and Reverse Migration," 2006.
 

Contents

Varieties of Chinese Restaurants ____________________
1
Fan Deems and Noodle Shops ______________________
17
Dining Rooms And Banquet Halls __________________
29
Chop Suey Mania ________________________________
56
Some Chinese Restaurant Pioneers __________________
75
Moving Beyond Chinatowns _______________________
101
Family Restaurant Operations_____________________
124
Insider Perspectives ______________________________
160
As One Era Ends Others Begin___________________
290
Bibliography______________________________________
307
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Born in Macon, Georgia, where his immigrant parents from China, the only Chinese in the city, owned a laundry. After moving to California, he majored in psychology at U. C. Berkeley and went on to earn a Ph.D. at Northwestern University. Author of several academic textbooks, including a second edition in 2010 of "Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Behavior," he was a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach for 40 years. Upon retiring, he created a new career in writing 4 books on the history of Chinese immigrants and their family-run businesses and making presentations about them all over the country to pay tribute to these pioneers.

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