Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey

Anne Mendelson (Author)

Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
November 29, 2016
6.1 X 1.2 X 9.1 inches | 1.35 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Anne Mendelson is a culinary historian and freelance writer specializing in food-related subjects. She has worked as editorial consultant and collaborator on several cookbooks and has contributed entries to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2005). She is the author of Milk (2008) and Stand Facing the Stove (1996).


Chow Chop Suey is an eye-opener, a book that will give everyone a deep appreciation of the exquisite skill required to produce authentic Chinese food and the sweep of history that brought Chinese cooking to America. Anne Mendelson's prodigious research has given us a highly respectful, insightful, refreshing, wonderfully written, and utterly compelling account of the role and plight of Chinese restaurant workers in this country. I learned something new on every page.--Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of Soda Politics
Well-written and impeccably researched, Chow Chop Suey is a beautiful ode both to the history of Chinese Americans and the intriguing ways in which China's rich food culture continues to take root here and flourish. Anne Mendelson's section on Chinese American cookbook writers is nothing less than a classic, for she brings sense and order to a long overlooked field with her customary clear perspective and dry wit. Mendelson is one of my favorite food writers and I'd expect nothing less, but this time she's outdone herself.--Carolyn Phillips, author of All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China and The Dim Sum Field Guide
There are other accounts of the American enthusiasm for Chinese food and the simultaneous persecution of Chinese immigrants. What makes Anne Mendelson's Chow Chop Suey unique is how it integrates cooking styles with American and Chinese cultural contrasts. Mendelson never loses sight of the food and how Chinese restaurants and American "experts" of various sorts shaped a cuisine that was both exotic and irresistible. No one has discussed in such a fascinating and authoritative way the American misunderstanding of basic Chinese culinary principles, the importance of a few key cookbooks and restaurants, and the gradual awakening of American palates to something resembling actual Chinese food in the postwar decades. Fun to read, judicious, and above all authoritative.--Paul Freedman, author of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination
Chow Chop Suey is a well-written and insightful guide to the Chinese food scene in America. In a field full of myths, Anne Mendelson's book is accurate and detailed. A delightful read!--Eugene N. Anderson, author of, Food and Environment in Early and Medieval China
Anne Mendelson brings together political and culinary history, showing that it was by inventing quasi-Chinese dishes that titillated American palates that Cantonese immigrants found a way to survive anti-Asia persecution. Gripping, authoritative, and timely.--Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History
A timely and nuanced reminder that Chinese-American identity has long been conflated with Chinese food.--Peter Ho Davies "Times Literary Supplement "
A deeply researched look at the history of Chinese food in the U.S. I'll be dipping into it for years.--Wall Street Journal
Anne Mendelson writes like the engaged scholar she is, with dry wit and easy, uncompromising erudition.... [Chow Chop Suey] is full of wonder.--New York Times
A solid choice for readers interested in Chinese immigration and U.S.-China history, as well as those curious about American foodways and culinary culture.--Library Journal
Chow Chop Suey provides a nuanced and invaluable analysis of America's struggle to codify Chinese and Chinese American cooking in English . . . Mendelson maintains a compelling narrative that successfully enlivens a story close-to-overflowing with detail.--Alice McLean "Journal of American Ethnic History "
Essential reading for understanding the history of Chinese food in America.--Choice
Well-researched and well-written.--Journal of American History
Provides good historical context for how the Chinese food we eat in the United States made it to our plates.--American Historical Review