Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America
The Museum of Chinese in America presents conversations around a dinner table with 34 Chinese and Asian-American chefs. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy weaves together complex stories through a dynamic video installation featuring pioneering chefs. (October 06, 2016 - March 26, 2017)
Join us for conversations around a dinner table with 34 Chinese and Asian-American chefs. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy weaves together complex stories through a dynamic video installation featuring pioneering chefs such as Cecilia Chiang, Ken Hom, Anita Lo, Ming Tsai, and Martin Yan; new restaurateurs like Peter Chang, Eddie Huang, Vivian Ku, and Danny Bowien; and persevering home cooks like Ni Biying, Yvette Lee and Ho-chin Yang.
In Chinese the saying Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy refers not only to the delicate balance of flavors that defines Chinese cooking but also the ups and downs of life. Set in an immersive video installation, the tapestry of tales that emerges will be rich with immigration experiences, food memories, favorite dishes and cooking inspirations that define the culinary—and personal—identities of these chefs, drawing visitors into the middle of a conversation about how food defines Chinese in America. In the center of the gallery will be a monumental dinner table, with each chef represented by personally selected artifacts from their kitchens and place settings featuring unique ceramic vessels that will link cooking styles to regional culinary traditions.
Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy is an imaginary banquet in which featured guests represent diverse histories, cuisines, and geographic regions. By understanding these elements, we can start to identify what Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch might call a “food voice” for Chinese in America. They write: “The concept of the food voice means that what people choose to procure, prepare, and eat—and what they do not eat—can reveal much about their identity and culture. Often, the food voice expresses what the spoken voice struggles to articulate.”
What does Chinese food in America, in its dizzying variety, say about who we are—or are not— today?
Please join the U.S.-China Institute and PEN America for the West Coast launch of the PEN America report on social media in China, Forbidden Feeds. We will discuss the report and Chinese social media more generally.