Asian American food can be tricky territory to write about. The go-to imagery of Martin Yan slicing and dicing (with gongs ushering in the next course) is enough to induce a case of stereotype salmonella. We like pizza and burgers as much as grandma’s kimchi. And we’re hungry for the story behind the food.
Americans have begun to consider how farming, food and politics are thoroughly intertwined. Books like Michael Pollan’s bestselling The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) sparked national debates about what constitutes “good food.” Popular interest in food and farming has swelled with the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill, which attracted more controversy than any farm bill in recent memory.
What the foodie press has neglected, however, is that Asian Americans care about hunger, pesticides, farm policy and trade agreements. We need to be included in the organic movement, slow-food fairs and farmers-market lineups. Food is a real link to our heritage, so we should be the ones to craft the storyline about how Asian food became hybridized in the United States.
We won’t just write about eating in restaurants, because food involves much more than that (and who can afford to eat out all the time in this economy?). Instead, we’ll focus on all aspects of the “food system”: the cultivating, harvesting, distributing, preparing, enjoying and disposing of food and its by-products.
Along the way, we’ll introduce fascinating players in the Asian American food scene. Besides chefs, eaters and cookbook authors, we’ll profile gardeners, foragers, activists, academics, fishermen and dim sum cart operators.
We hope to broaden your perspective of food to encompass places and tastes you’ve never imagined. Your ideas are welcome. We hope you’ll write in about the small businesses, creative cooks and hardworking entrepreneurs that define Asian American food for you: contact us at food [at] hyphenmagazine.com.
Let’s make something delicious.