University of California Irvine Luck Lee Change of Cuisines Questions

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University of California Irvine


Essays will be graded on your ability to write a clear thesis statement in direct and effective response to the prompt, and support thesis with specific and convincing evidence from the lectures (including guest lectures) and the assigned texts.

Requirement for each essay: 1. Roughly 5 paragraphs: introduction (with clear thesis), body paragraphs, and conclusion 2. You must also organize your essay/arguments coherently 3. You should use class materials throughout the quarter. 


1. Compare and contrast the historical processes that explain how Mexican and Chinese food became popular in the United States. Please use at least two examples from the readings and guest lectures to support your answer.

2. How have cuisines changed once they’ve immigrated to the United States? What are the social and economic factors that contributed to these changes? Please use at least two examples from the readings and lectures to support your answer.

3.What is the Chinese American cuisine? Is it authentic Chinese food? What would be the answers from Professor Chen (hint: author of Chop Suey USA,) Gustavo Arellano(hint: author of Taco USA), and Primo(hint: the character from the movie Big Night, one of those two brothers; he is also mentioned on lecture slide:  Food Films & Big Night W2021 WK 9)? 

Suggested reading range (This is my prediction, but I cannot guarantee): 

prompt 1: prompt 1 probably will be based on lecture slides and readings of Chop Suey USA and Taco USA, which are two books you are reading right now 

prompt 2: prompt 2 probably will be based on lecture slides and the first five chapters of another book, We are What we Eat, and either the Taco USA or Chop Suey USA) 

prompt 3: prompt 3 probably will be based on lecture slides, the movie Big Night, and Chop Suey USA

You don't have to complete all of the readings, but I need you to use evidences from lecture notes and materials of these two readings. As long as you think you have collected enough information, and you can write an essay having a clear thesis with specific and sufficient evidence from the lectures and the assigned texts, you are good to go!) 

I have attached all lecture slides, books, and grading rubric below. In addition, here is the writing hints from my TA, feel free  to follow this structure to write:   

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INTRODUCTION: METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES  Part A. The definition and importance of history and the subjectivity of our knowledge / why we should study food and immigration  Part B. Understanding the subjectivity of your professor: Three reasons I study food.  A purpose of these discussions: reveal my subjectivity and limitation; explain my topic choice.  Part C. Understanding the Nature and State of Food Studies: Jacques Pépin, the Food Network, Top Chef, and other topics.  What is history? And why history is important? History as “what has been said and done” in the real world; and history as a field of intellectual inquiry.  Carl Becker: “Everyman His Own Historian” (1931)  1. In remembering and looking into the past, everyone is performing the tasks of a historian; in other words, history is intimately connected to each of us.  2. the subjectivity of our historical knowledge: A. Individuals’ limitations in their ability to know. History is often defined as “things said and done.” Yet the history that is accessible to each of us is only the parts of the past that the historian is - and can be - aware of. B. In writing about history, people have to be selective.  What constitutes historical facts? – the selective nature of such facts.  Edward Carr: What Is History?  “Crossing the Rubicon” as a historical fact.  Historians try to be objective and more inclusive in their research.  The shift of historical research from “stories of great men” to everyday life. C. The subjectivity of our historical knowledge also helps us understand that all of us are part of history, especially the history that we study.  Studying these two topics helps us understand the connection between history as a field of academic research and history as what is said, done, and experienced by people of different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.  Of all the historical topics, few are more closely associated with the self than food: which sustains out body physically, and connects our selfhood to other individuals, different cultures, and the natural surroundings.  Immigration – essential to the experiences of Americans, the US as a nation, and our changing world. Many of us are directly or directly connected to immigrants; and our lives are also impacted by immigration. Yet, we are only a part of the waves of global immigration that changed America; and our knowledge of the experiences of their experiences, including their food, is limited. 1. Personal: Longtime foodie:  Mother as an incredible foodie: understands food’s importance and worked so hard to feed us.  Her challenges: A – no refrigerator; B – a busy job. Her experience was not isolated: it resembled that of women throughout Chinese history as well as that of modern professional women in many parts of the world == “Second Shift” - Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild.  C – food Scarcity; FOOD SCARCITY: FOOD RATION STAMPS IN CHINA FOOD RATION IN US DURING WWII 2. 3.  D- Political ideology: good eating was considered bourgeois indulgence  Food = “I love you” and resistance to oppressive and puritanical ideology. American journey:  Food as an anchor of identity – Discovering the adjective “Chinese” as a signifier for the food of China in America;  “Chinese stomach” (the materiality of identity) - food as a compass for me to navigate the New World;  Search for ‘authentic” Chinese food => discovery of America Intellectual: The intellectual nature of mundane situations in everyday life  Wednesday, January 12, 2005  The Morning Read: Dipping into melting pot UCI professor chows down with an eye on the future of ethnic food and culture in America.  By MARLA JO FISHER The Orange County Register  Yong Chen leans over his chopsticks, which are dripping with stewed squid, and reflects on his obsession with food.  He isn't exactly sure when it began or when it started taking over his life. Maybe it was in the Chinese re-education camp where he was sent with his parents as a child.  Maybe it was later, when he studied history at Cornell University, before he became a popular associate professor of history and Asian- American studies at UC Irvine.  Now, when he's not teaching, he's writing a book about the cultural significance of ethnic food in America. And, when he's not writing, he's eating. When he's not eating, he's collecting old cookbooks, restaurant menus, diaries and poring over vintage business directories, all in a quest to link food and culture, food and memory.  "Taste is always acquired, and we acquire our tastes very early on," Chen says. "You don't need to read philosophy to understand a culture. Sometimes, it's much more mundane, like the food."  Chen's research not only seeks to trace the phenomenal rise of ethnic foods in this country but to describe how food is important to culture and a society.  Chen, 44, recalls a Republican TV ad he saw before the election that negatively depicted presidential candidate Howard Dean as a sophisticate eating sushi and drinking lattes. "Republicans don't eat sushi," Chen jokes.  But, as his book will show, over the past 10 years, ethnic food has become not only a cultural but also a commercial phenomenon in America.  "Food has always had two major highways: It travels with people, as in immigration," Chen says. "It also travels with the movement of capital."  As an immigrant, he is a living example of the former. When he lectures on globalization in one of the classes he teaches at UCI, he could be talking about his own life. Chen remembers that his father was a government agriculture official in China's Hubei Province before the Cultural Revolution took hold of the country in the late 1960s. He remembers the Red Guard searching his family's house, and his family's relocation into a Communist re-education camp, where his parents were forced to work in rice paddies by day and study the sayings of Chairman Mao at night.  Later, after the movement subsided, Chen says, his father became president of a small university, and Chen went to study at Peking University in 1978. There he met Bruce Stave and Sondra Astor Stave, an American couple teaching at the university who encouraged him to apply to graduate school in the United States.  He arrived in the United States in 1985 after being accepted for graduate studies at Cornell University. Sondra Stave met him in New York and took him out for pizza, a ritual of American life.  "What's more American than pizza?" she said.  Chen remembers well his baptism into the American taste palate, though he admits he didn't find it tasty at the time. "They said, 'Now, you're in America. We want to Americanize you.' "  Meanwhile, certain ethnic groups have settled into Southern California life into certain food-service industries but not necessarily their own.  "Cambodians have almost monopolized the doughnut business," Chen says. "And Greeks are into candy making. You see more Mexicans opening Chinese restaurants."  For the future, Chen sees more "fusion food" melding different cultures, as well as a trend toward healthy cuisines.  "California has been the national food trend-setter, and I expect that to continue," he says. Standing in the 99 Ranch Market, a Chinese supermarket in Irvine that also sells Japanese soft drinks and Korean barbecue, Chen leans over the fish tank, with its live Maine lobster and silver carp.  Asked what he and his wife have at that very moment in the home refrigerator, Chen recalls some foie gras, duck livers special-ordered from Gelson's, enoki mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots. Oh, and Cajun leftovers.  "My wife likes Emeril," he says with a grin.   Orange County Register article on Yong Chen Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 NPR MARKETPLACE STORY EXPLORING THE ISSUE OF AUTHENTICITY IN CHINESE FOOD  Eating and talking with Mark Bittman (famous food writer and former columnist of the New York Times https://www.markbittm; m/MarkBittman/e/B000APUJB0 /ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1? qid=1484028071&sr=81) in Irvine – Class 302 – A HUMBLE EXAMPLE OF CONNECTING ACADEMIC RESEARCH AND THE PUBLIC: INTERVIEW WITH BITTMAN INTERVIEW HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=9YEHA7SWLYO ON THE POSSIBILITIES OF FOOD WRITING AS A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE POPULAR AND THE POLITICAL KCET Featured in LA Times column: Chat & Selfie: “Bad fortune cookies, critics from Mars and crab Rangoon” (Jonathan Gold - 99 things to eat in L.A. before you die) (Anthony Bourdain; Joël Robuchon) “How did Chinese become America's favorite ethnic cuisine?” Orange County Register, interview with Larry Mantle of KPCC CHOW in the Museum of Food and Drink 1. Long-time failure to Fully appreciate the importance of food 2. Four reasons for the society’s failure to fully recognize the importance of food 3. State of the “field”: interest in food and food studies • Food historians often have to explain and defend their subject matter, which reveals the lack of adequate understanding of the importance of food as a subject of vigorous academic inquiry. • Examples: Jacques Pepin; Hasia Diner. • Students. 1) Food is sensual; 2) It is seen as feminine; 3) There was a strong resentment against indulgence in food in the Puritan tradition:  The Bible: “But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. ” (John 6:27).  The home economics movement and Ellen Richards – they were influenced by this tradition and by a rising scientific approach to food.  “We take no warning from other animals and from plants, all of which fail of their best end when overfed. Nature does not make an exception in favor of man . . . . In all the discussions of the infertility of the higher branches of the human race, how little attention is paid to the weakening effect of the pampered appetite.”  In America in 2009, the average store of the 35,612 large-size supermarkets carried more than 48,750 food and food related items.  We spend less and less of our income on food: The percentage of the income that the average American has to spend on food came down from more than 42% in 1901 to about 13% in 2003. 3. State of the “field”: interest in food and food studies Public interest in food is surging: Increasingly popular are food programs on food TV and other channels. Food Network – the beginning The Providence Journal’s cable TV arm; Colony. It started the (TV) Food Network in 1993. Starting from scratch (From Scratch is also the title of a book on the history of the food network): founders had no experience with the food industry and no idea about cooking or cooking shows; other cable TV-channel ideas failed; tried different formats/directions. Successful mission found: A TV channel for foodies. Other challenges. Impact of Food Network: Transformation of the food and restaurant industries, and of the status of chefs - Mario Batali; Emeril Lagasse. It made the American palate better. The Food Network turned people into foodies – but not home cooks: the number of Americans who said they loved cooking declined by about 30% in the 20 years before 2017. Food becomes entertainment. (it is interesting to note that 54% of Americans say they are cooking during the pandemic than they did before.) THE STATE OF FOOD STUDIES: RAPIDLY GROWING PUBLIC AND SCHOLARLY INTEREST  most popular cooking shows.  Other media platforms. For example, Food Network is on TikTok and Snapshot.  YouTube food channels; transcending language and national boundaries: 李子柒 Li Ziqi  Melissa King: UCI Alumna and Top Chef – alternative careers.  Another reason for the surging public interest in food: More and more books on food: The list of popular books on food is getting longer and longer – (books on food at  books on individual foods =>  Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (New York: Walker and Co.,       2002); Mark Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds: the History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World, 1st ed. (New York NY: Basic Books, 1999); Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York N.Y.: Viking, 1985); Dan Koeppel, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World (New York: Hudson Street Press, 2008); Lydia Gautier, Tea: Aromas and Flavors Around the World (San Francisco Calif.: Chronicle Books, 2006); Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: Tthe Dark Side of the all-American Meal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001); George Ritzer, The Mcdonaldization of Society, New Century ed. (Thousand Oaks Calif.: Pine Forge Press, 2000).  Scholars are catching up a. Increasing interest in food among other scholars – Growing number of food studies programs in universities (examples: UC Berkeley; NYU; UC Davis), offering new career paths and ways to make a difference. b. Increasing publications; and the multidisciplinary nature of the topic,  James Watson and Melissa L. Caldwell, eds., The Cultural Politics of        Food and Eating: A Reader (Malden MA: Blackwell Pub., 2005); Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Jeffrey Pilcher, Que Vivan Los Tamales!: Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998); Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Rice as Self: Japanese Identities Through Time (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993); Fran Hawthorne, Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics Behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat (Hoboken N.J.: J. Wiley, 2005); Carole Counihan, Food and Culture: A Reader (New York: Routledge, 1997); Solomon Katz, Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (New York: Scribner, 2003); Nina V. Fedoroff and Nancy Marie Brown, Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food (varied needs of gourmands and starving people) (Joseph Henry Press, 2008); Bruno McGrath, Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013)  Books on “Food, Race and Ethnicity”) (by Yong Chen).  Waverley Root’s Eating in America: A History (New York: Morrow, 1976) is one of the earliest comprehensive history of American food and has interesting anecdotes;  Food in colonial America is covered in Trudy Eden's The Early American Table: Food and Society in the New World (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008) and James McWilliams' A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).  Other works include Kathryn Grover, Dining in America, 1850-1900 (Amherst; Rochester N.Y.: University of Massachusetts Press; Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, 1987).  As a nation known for its drinking habits, there are also works devoted to the topic: Mark Lender, Drinking in America: A History (New York; London: Free Press; Macmillan, 1982); Kathryn Grover, Dining in America, 1850-1900 (Amherst; Rochester, N.Y.: University of Massachusetts Press; Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, 1987); and W Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic, an American Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).  Adopting a different approach, Andrew Smith uses important food events, such as the appearance of popular foods and the creation of popular restaurants, as a way to comprehend the development of American foodways in his Eating History: 30 Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).  Harvey A. Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) and Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).  Sherrie Inness, Secret Ingredients: Race, Gender, and Class at the Dinner Table, 1st ed. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Apparent holes: Mexican food; African American food and chefs: “Black Americans have contributed so much to this country’s food and culture without proper acknowledgement – a pattern of erasure that continues today.” (Marcus Samuelsson, The Rise) Not a coherent field of study yet. We have not yet recognized the overall importance of food. These are also why food is an exciting and promising topic. The Multifaceted Significance of Food and Interdisciplinary Nature of Food Studies What to Eat? Definition of “food” in our class 1. “Foodways”: a multilayered process involving how to obtain, prepare, store, distribute, transport, prepare, and eat food. 2. It is about how we organize our society. 3. Foodways also includes the tools and materials we use to produce, store, transport, cook, and consume our food. 4. Manners, reflecting social customs and relationships. 5. Foodways entails post-eating conditions/consequences of our food consumption: clean up; health; socioeconomic and ecological consequences: 6. Our food patterns also reflect our beliefs and ideologies. • “What to Eat” is a fundamental question that human beings and human societies have always faced. Thesis of the lecture • It is about the choices that are available to us and that we make on a daily basis. • The concerns that prompt the question have changed over time; and these changes correlate closely with the transformation of society. 1. For early human being or their ancestors, it conveyed an anxiety about the availability of anything edible. 2. For religiously minded people, it is about their faith. 3. For many, this question reveals their consciousness and concerns about health. 4. For others, this is a highly political question. 5. Increasingly, it is also an ethics question. 6. The question is about the role of the government in shaping our foodways. 7. It reminds us of how class relations and gender roles impact what we eat. 8. Conclusion Lecture content 1. For early human beings or their ancestors, food was primarily the sustenance to sustain the body. Their choice was very limited. Choice was limited; the first significant expansion of food choices and supplies: the mastery of fire. Advantages of fire use (To learn more about this, read Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human); making food easier to digest; shrinking the stomach size and teeth; so that we can redirect the energy to the development of our brain. making food safer to consume and easier to store; enhancing the stability of food supply; expanding the range of foods; shortening the time needed to obtain a meal; freeing up time for other activities. Others had recognized the importance of the use of fire for cooking • Claude Lévi-Strauss, famous French anthropologist, noted in 1970 that the use of fire for cooking marked the clear and profound distinction between nature and culture. • Carleton Coon (American physical anthropologist and archaeologist): cooking was “the decisive factor in leading man from a primarily animal existence into one that was more fully human” (1954). • Friedrich Engels (in Anti-Duhring, 1878): The greatest liberation from natural necessity of humankind on record is "the generation of fire from friction,“ rather than the steam engine. • Greek Mythology: “If they only had fire,” said Prometheus to himself, “they could at least warm themselves and cook their food; and after a while they could learn to make tools and build themselves houses. Without fire, they are w...
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History Question
Institution Affiliation



Generally, in America, various cuisines have experienced numerous changes once they
have immigrated there, and this means that they have been altered from their original preparation
methods, among other things, such as their tastes. In analyzing these alterations, it is crucial to
understand the cuisines' basic foundational elements, including having clearly identifiable
geographical origins, such as Asia (China), and this is due to their uniqueness.
It is also worth noting that cuisines also include spices and are defined by cooking
methods and practices. Therefore, by cuisine changes, it means the traditional dishes or spices
famous in a particular geographical area undergo some alterations even in their basics, such as
cooking methods and practices. The prompt seeks to analyze how various cuisines have changed
where social and economic contributory factors will be outlined.
Change of Cuisines
Various cuisines (Chinese, Italian, and Mexican) have changed once they have
immigrated to the United States. For example, once the Chinese cuisine entered the United
States, it changed, and this is evident from the Chinese cuisine being prepared by most of the
North American Chinese restaurants. Chinese cuisines have adopted various Americanassociated things in these restaurants, including flavors, preparation methods, and components or
ingredients. This change is also evident through Chop Suey’s postulations where the author
postulates that the Chinese cuisine in America is experiencing some loss of reputable culture and
place sense, and this has been attributed to the changes cuisine is experiencing (Chen, 2014).
Also, Luck Lee’s example can be used to explain this point further.



Back in the United States, Luck Lee has re-imagined Chinese cuisine regarding her clean
eating philosophy. This re-imagination has translated to a menu that is cashew, peanut, gluten,
and dairy-free (Brown, 2021). This is unlike the traditional Chinese cuisines hence
demonstrating some changes. Another example of changed cuisine is the Chinese Chili pepper.
Mexican cuisine has also experienced some changes in America. This change of Mexican cuisine
in America is evident, especially when analyzing the existing questions regarding Mexican
cuisine's authenticity in America. When individuals start to question the authenticity of
something, it means that such individuals can notice some deviations from the original products,
and these deviations are the changes. These authenticity questions have also resulted in escalated
tensions as non-Mexican white promoters dealing with Mexican food are being blamed for the
Like the two above-discussed cuisines, Italian cuisine has also experienced some changes
after immigrating to the United States. These changes have been associated with various factors,
as will be discussed later. The Italian cuisine changes in America are evident in that there have
been regional v...

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