Beyond Lomein

I just love this paragraph:

“Much of what passes for Cantonese cooking in the Western World would sicken a traditional Cantonese gourmet. Canned pineapple, canned cherries, and even canned fruit cocktail; enormous quantities of dehydrated garlic, barbecue or Worcestershire sauce; canned vegetables, corn starch, mono-sodium glutamate, cooking sherry, and heavy doses of sugar are found in many of these bizarre creations. This fusion of pseudo-Cantonese and pseudo-Polynesian food can be traced to a renegade Cantonese chef at Trader Vic’s in California. The basic formula appears to be: take the fattest, rankest pork you can get; cook it in a lot of oil with the sweetest mixture of canned fruits and sugar you can make; throw on a lot of MSG and cheap soy sauce; thicken the sauce to glue-like consistency; and serve it forth. The Cantonese regard the whole business as proof that Westerners are [c]ultureless barbarians, but they cook it, and now even many Taiwan Chinese (having eaten Cantonese food only in cafes catering to American G.I.’s) are convinced that this is typical Cantonese cooking.” —Food in China, E.N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven CT] 1988 (p. 212-3)

There is so much more to Asian food than the usual suspects — lo mein, fried rice, crab rangoon, etc. Granted, the typical Chinese-American fare has been around since the mid 1800s and has basically become part of the America food culture; as American as apple pie. Asia does not equal Chinese, and that is Mum Mum’s Mission — we want to broaden the food scene in Waterville. Asian food is so complex and has such a broad spectrum. Thai food, Korean food, Vietnamese food, Malaysian food, Indian food. Japanese food, and so on are nothing alike. Some aspects might cross over here and there, but essentially each is special and amazing in their own right.

Allow your taste buds to live a little. Be a little adventurous and break-free from the chains of the typical fortune cookie-fare. It’s so easy to be afraid of the unfamiliar. Worst case scenario – ugh, this is not appealing to my taste buds, I won’t be coming back. Best case scenario – wow, this stuff is actually good and now I have something else to add to my lunch repertoire, and I can move beyond the mundane turkey sandwich.


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