Since today is a day set aside for eating, cooking and sharing traditions, its the right time to share the book launch for Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (NYU Press) that happened last month at NYU’s Asian Pacific American Studies Program. It was a great opportunity to reunite with my once-boss, advisor and friend, Robert Ji-Song Ku. He hired me to teach my first Arab American Literature class at Hunter College. I was thrilled to meet the contributors, editors and listen to their wonderful projects on the history and politics of Asian American food. This was my first food essay and it was a merge of childhood memories eating Uzbek food in Sheepshead Bay, historical changes in Uzbek cuisine after the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution and the culinary influence of other cultures in the Uzbek diasporic experience. By the end of my talk, I felt like I should start the tour guide to Southern Brooklyn for a taste of the Central Asian steppe! It was great fun.
Chop suey. Sushi. Curry. Adobo. Kimchi. The deep associations Asians in the United States have with food have become ingrained in the American popular imagination. So much so that contentious notions of ethnic authenticity and authority are marked by and argued around images and ideas of food.Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader collects burgeoning new scholarship in Asian American Studies that centers the study of foodways and culinary practices in our understanding of the racialized underpinnings of Asian Americanness. It does so by bringing together twenty scholars from across the disciplinary spectrum to inaugurate a new turn in food studies: the refusal to yield to a superficial multiculturalism that naively celebrates difference and reconciliation through the pleasures of food and eating. By focusing on multi-sited struggles across various spaces and times, the contributors to this anthology bring into focus the potent forces of class, racial, ethnic, sexual and gender inequalities that pervade and persist in the production of Asian American culinary and alimentary practices, ideas, and images. This is the first collection to consider the fraught itineraries of Asian American immigrant histories and how they are inscribed in the production and dissemination of ideas about Asian American foodways.Robert Ji-Song Ku is Associate Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University. He is the author of Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA.Martin F. Manalansan IV is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora.Anita Mannur is Associate Professor of English and Asian /Asian American Studies at Miami University. She is the author of Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture.