Comfort Food

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Today’s Perfect Moment is Chinese food. No, this blog will not be a celebration of authentic Szechuan or Cantonese Chinese food.  No  this post does the unthinkable and celebrates Canadian Chinese food. (Sorry Patrick, Susana, Jessica, and Charmaine–Though I doubt any of you read this blog, but I had better hedge my bets–I love authentic Chinese food too, but sometimes….)

What is Canadian Chinese food?  It is a vague and somewhat sweeter and greasier approximation of authentic Chinese food with things like chicken balls thrown in for good measure.  I grew up on it, and only in my late teens did I come learn that it wasn’t authentic.  In fact, I have to thank Ms. Foster, my history teacher, for exposing me to the real McCoy.

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Bring it on!  I am ready!

 

I think of it as comfort food. And like all comfort food, no one should judge what form that comes it.  If we did, the whole comfort food industry would be in tatters.

Some of my donauschwaben comfort foods (kipfel, Bona soup, palachinka, chicken paprikash) are lost to us now. If only we had taken time to learn the recipes.

What are your comfort foods?

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About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Chinese, comfort food, donauschwaben, encouragement, ethnic food, food, fortune cookie, Omens, portents and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Comfort Food

  1. leggypeggy says:

    I adore Indian food—virtually all of it.

  2. bgddyjim says:

    Lately, homemade beef roast and beef stew made from the leftovers are my favorites. My wife’s is a barbecue bacon burger with onion straws and cole slaw… It’s one crazy decadent dinner.

  3. Anna Kwan says:

    As much as many foodies and Chinese emmigrés would like to look down on Canadian/American-Chinese food, believe it or not, it is still a category of Chinese cuisine in and of itself.

    I used to look down on Mandarin’s sweet-n-sour chicken balls covered in neon orange sauce, or the ever-omnipresent General Tso/Tsao/Tzo/Chao (etc) Chicken. However, ignoring westernized Chinese food is ignoring the history of Chinese immigration to Canada and the United States from the mid-1800s through to today.

    There were many different factors that led to the prevalence of Chinese restaurants in North America. From the Canadian perspective, many Chinese men were not allowed to bring their wives over to “Gold Mountain” as the New World was called. As a result, you have a bachelor society of Chinese men who were forced to cook for themselves. Second, many “white” Canadians simply would not hire Chinese men to work in any industry because of rampant and overt racism. The only jobs that were available to Chinese men were laundries and restaurants–Yeah, cooking and cleaning–seen as “women’s work”. So it was no surprise that Chinese-owned laundries and restaurants opened throughout Toronto’s original Chinatown in The Ward in the 1900s and in similar Chinese neighbourhoods in Vancouver because these businesses were perceived as “non-threatening and non-competitive” toward the businesses of WASP British Canadians.

    The Chinese were quick to learn that they could not rely solely on the Chinese clientele to make their businesses grow and thrive; they would have to broaden their customer base. By adapting Chinese dishes to western tastes, i.e. making gravies and sauces sweeter; taking cheap available cuts of meat, breading/battering and deep-frying them; and using seasonal vegetables available and familiar to people, these enterprising Chinese restaurateurs have invented a new kind of Chinese cuisine unique to North America.

    So, as a Canadian-born Chinese of Hong Kong extraction who had a Head Tax relative who passed away many years ago in Alberta, I say go right ahead and enjoy your chicken balls, your egg foo young, your chop suey, your deep fried egg rolls, and day-glo sweet-n-sour lemon sauce. It may not look like any Chinese food found in mainland China but it was never supposed to emulate that. What you’re eating is the history of thousands of Chinese who, beyond their control and circumstances, called Canada their home post-Canadian-Pacific Railway, post-Head Tax, and post-Chinese Exclusion Act.

  4. Anna Kwan says:

    And on a lighter note, my comfort food is a nice big bowl of congee with thousand-year preserved duck egg, shredded pork, and scallions, served with a Chinese deep-fried donut stick, and a hot glass/bowl of soybean milk.

  5. Anna Kwan says:

    To know more about the history of Chinese food in North America, I highly encourage your to watch the documentary, The Search for General Tso:

    http://www.thesearchforgeneraltso.com/

    • Anthony says:

      Thanks Anna
      I really enjoyed reading your take on this. It was eye opening, and certainly changed my thinking completely. This blog has gotten a decent number of views, so you’ve probably informed quite a few people. Thanks so much.

  6. Amy says:

    My comfort food is soupy noodles. I really enjoyed Japanese noodles when we visited there last fall. 🙂

  7. My current comfort food is my sweet-greasy french toast with murderous amounts of cream; not long back it was ramen. Speaking of chinese, I’ve recently started to appreciate Indian-chinese food.

  8. Pingback: The Healing Power of Ramen | Today's Perfect Moment

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