Since the influx of Chinese immigrants during the 19th century, Chinese cuisine in America has undergone a variety of changes. Chinese immigrants during the second half of the 19th century lived in segregated “Chinatowns” throughout the American frontier. Chinese businessmen and family-cooks combined to open restaurants catering to their local population. These restaurants served dishes that preserved and reflected their different Chinese cultural and regional identities. Initially, Chinese foods were not accepted or liked by the American public because they were perceived as foreign. From the 1890s onward, Chinese dishes began changing to appeal to the American taste by using more “American” ingredients and cooking techniques.
This article from Frank Leslie’s Weekly provides insight into American Chinese food and its preparation. Reference librarians, students, faculty, historians, and researchers, using Frank Leslie’s Weekly, can trace the development of America in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. Researchers interested in popular culture will find Frank Leslie’s Weekly full of unique information covering every phase of America’s evolution for over 70 years. This collection creates endless possibilities for new and more thorough research.
Curious but Palatable Chinese Dishes, and How To Make Them
By Harriet Quimby
MANY different races are domiciled in New York City, but of all the races the Chinese have the most defined quarter as well as the most interesting. The Chinaman does not yield to the gradual assimilation with the country in general as do the other foreigners, but he likes to make a little China of his own in this country and to keep to himself. This quality of exclusiveness and indifference attracts hundreds of visitors to the Chinatowns of New York and other cities, and brings prosperity to the various shops and eating places abounding in these colonies. It is the latter especially that are patronized by the American visitors, always on the qui vive for something new. It has become quite a fad with many Americans to learn the Chinese art of eating with chopsticks. Much fun is caused at dinner parties in Chinese restaurants by the awkwardness of beginners in this art. Some Occidentals acquire it very readily, while others are never able to master it.
The Chinaman, it must be admitted, knows how to cook, and he cooks with such skill that the peculiar mingling of flavors in which he delights pleases the Occidental as well as the Oriental palate. The excellence of Chinese food may be due to the influence of religion in the kitchen, for the god which presides over this portion of the Chinese home is considered an important one among the deities.