In A Way of Death, Heather Li describes why her annual visit to her family graves is actually kind of fun.Read More
See that teeny, tiny story at the bottom of the second column from the left? From the April 29, 1954 edition of the Globe and Mail, a story on the union at Avro Canada Ltd. cancelling its annual golf tournament because the Lakeview Club wouldn't let a "negro" employee play. Way to go, Local 717.Read More
Melody McKiver is a young Ojibwe multi-instrumentalist, improviser, and academic that splits her time between Ottawa and Toronto. As a solo performer, she explores the range of the viola’s possibilities, spanning from minimalist to danceable, sometimes incorporating laptop processing and looping. Melody’s musical practice spans across viola/violin, drums and percussion, and guitar, drawing upon a broad set of influences that includes hip-hop, electronic, global bass, contemporary classical, jazz, and blues. Melody also records and produces digital media under the pseudonym Gitochige, which is the Anishinaabemowin word for “s/he plays an instrument.Read More
Renee Sylvestre-Williams presents a timeline of Canada’s more egregious racist decisions. For example, remember that time our first Prime Minister didn’t believe Asian or First Nations folks should have the right to vote? No? Well read all about it here.Read More
We are sorry that we haven't updated in a while. It's summer and we're busy enjoying life and you know what? You should be too. Get off the internet, we'll see you at the beach.
One day soon, we are going put up a Q&A with illustrator Ness Lee, a Hilarious-Hakka-Chinese-Canadian whose stuff we love love love. Above, her take on today's news that the Bank of Canada wussed out on putting an Asian woman on our $100 bill because of some random jerks in a random focus group. If you want to hear Denise Balkissoon's take on it, go here.
But really, you should go to the beach.
Yesterday, CTV hosted a six-minute debate on the Ontario NDP's proposed tax increase for people making $500,000 or more a year. The guests were Jim Doak of Megantic Asset Management and Armine Yalnizyan of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
During the discussion, Jim Doak twice referred to the proposed tax as a form of "ethnic cleansing." This bit of hyperbole rather distracted me from the issue at hand - how best to deal with the economic challenges facing Ontario in 2012. It's surprising that someone as accomplished as Jim Doak, a graduate of U of T and McGill, would confuse two things so inherently different. One is deciding what portion of one's salary is required for good governance. The other is terror, war and systematic murder.Read More
Black envy, or black in a past life? Lisan Jutras in Jesus Saves: "When I heard “Mary Don’t You Weep,” on Aretha’s gospel album, I’d picture myself running super fast, or maybe even floating, with a pushing feeling inside my chest, and I’d find myself crying."Read More
Do only WASPs get to be white? Nina Boccia, in To Be Italian: "Many people are apparently shocked that I don’t have the olive skin that once so blatantly marked hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants as not truly “white” and continues to racialize their descendants."Read More
By Chantal Braganza
A year ago I interviewed a brilliant and incredibly nice woman named Lily about a book she wrote. It’s called Eating Chinese; a perceptive look at how Chinese-owned restaurants in Canada both invigorated the country’s restaurant industry in the early 1900’s and, in some cases, created cuisines of their own. If you’re interested in food, immigration issues and Canadian history, this is a read I would suggest. Among many things, what Lily’s book does remarkably well is make a case for North American-Chinese cooking as a legitimate cuisine. And by North American-Chinese cooking, I mean the stuff no one ever thinks of as “authentic” anymore: egg rolls, chop suey, sweet & sour and moo shoo pork.
With time, our ideas in this part of the world about what food is change. Fifty years ago we’d go on dates and bring our kids to restaurants with such sino-colourful names as Gold Mountain or Red Dragon, awkwardly slurp a bowl of egg foo yong with these newfangled things called chopsticks and tell ourselves we were eating something exotic—the way everyone, every person, from all over the most populated country in the world, ate at home in China.
By the late nineties, and definitely now, to certain types of food lovers there is no such thing as Chinese (and yes, rightly so). There’s Szechuan, Hong Kong and Hunan, sure. Double points if you can pin what you’re eating to a specific city. Triple if the person who made it is actually from there.
Lily told me funny research stories about poring over archived menus, photos, even grocery orders while working on the thesis that later became a book. None of these made it to the story, which was kind of a shame.
One time, she looked at the grocery orders from a migrant Chinese cook who worked for a wealthy family in Alberta a long time ago. I never wrote down when. It wasn’t in a major city, so he would have had to send out orders weekly for the household’s food. She looked at what the cook was ordering and could figure out what kind of dishes the cook was making based on the ingredients. When more vinegar was being ordered, more sweet and sour dishes were happening. Bell peppers and onions for improvised stir-fries were a common occurrence. As with a number of Chinese restaurant owners who by the Second World War no longer felt they had to serve canned spaghetti and hot beef sandwiches to stay in business, this cook was simply using ingredients available with techniques he knew to make what he could.
“What’s so interesting about these kinds of Chinese restaurants,” Lily told me, “is that they take what that question of ‘What is Chinese?’ reveals, and they give it back to them. They say, well, ‘Here’s what you think real Chinese food is, and this is what we think you want.’ They were incredibly perceptive, these restaurant owners, at reading the communities they were in, and giving back to people a version of it.”
And you know what? That version’s actually pretty great if you know where to go. Try the chicken balls at China Gourmet, and tell me I’m wrong.
Khao swe. It’s one of those lyrical food words I enjoy most. Like rooh afza, which is a rose syrup mixed with milk or water. Or sashimi and Darjeeling. Khao swe is a Burmese dish made with noodles and chicken in a spicy coconut milk broth. In my family, my mother and her sister make khao swe on special occasions. My mom’s is slightly spicier and her sister’s somewhat tempered, kind of like their respective temperaments. My mom’s is also always more pungent, which is the way I’ve grown to like it. They both garnish it with spring onions, cilantro and green chilies and drizzle lime for some added zest.Read More