European Studies SMLC HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU

News & Events

24 October 2012

Chop Suey as Imagined Authentic Chinese Food in America

Professor Liu Haiming
Fulbright Professor, American Studies

Date: Wednesday 24 October 2012
Time: 4:30 - 6pm
Place: Room 2.16, Run Run Shaw Tower

click to see poster

From 1900 to the 1960s, chop suey was a synonym of Chinese food in the United States. Most Chinese restaurants in America were called chop suey houses. Serving a wide range of American customers, chop suey eventually evolved into a popular American ethnic food and a culinary identity for Chinese restaurant business. Its history illustrates how Chinese immigrants adapted Chinese food to mainstream American taste and the restaurant market. The dynamic interaction between Chinese food and American customers was an interesting process of cultural negotiation. While the Chinese restaurant business helped shape American diet, Chinese food was at the same time being shaped, transformed and even altered by American popular taste and social expectations. Though popular, chop suey was essentially an imagined authentic Chinese food.

About the speaker:
Dr. Liu Haiming is a Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a Fulbright Professor at the American Studies Program in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures for 2012-13. His research interests include Asian and Asian American history, Western colonialism in China, modern China and Chinese migration, Chinese transnational and Diaspora communities. In addition to many book chapters and journal articles on Chinese Americans, his book The Transnational History of a Chinese Family, published by Rutgers University Press in 2005, is a pioneer monograph on Chinese transnational family life. His most recent publications include “Kung Pao Kosher: Jewish Americans and Chinese Restaurants in New York” and “Chop Suey as an Imagined Authentic Chinese Food.” He is currently working on a book project on Chinese restaurant history in the United States.


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