The kung fu fighter eats General Tao chicken
Christopher DeWolf of urbanphoto.net wrote "Cultural Kung Fu" / "No Ching Chong Here" after meeting us (Shuang, Sandra and myself) at Magic Idea last Friday. The first article was published in the News section of the Montreal Hour, a free English-language weekly, and the second article is an extended version of the first, w/ a photo of our poster:
Previous press coverage include this interview where I attempt to speak about complicated matters in my unrecoverably broken Chinese.
Future press coverage include a part in a report by Bethany Or of RCI, to be aired this coming Tuesday.
It's as controversial as it gets. We had our second meeting yesterday night, in preparation for Sunday, and came out with a number of points of view, a number of potentially controversial questions. Notably, I wonder whether the idea of multiculturalism (the Canadian way, it seems), in opposition with that of melting pot (the American policy, it seems), supports segregation (a dirty word), or that in fact, there isn't much of a difference between either multiculturalism and melting pot (both being words, idealistic policies), and that reality ultimately leads to uniformization of the cultures. I feel that if you are interested to come to this round table, you would tend to be for keeping the "Chinese identity" distinct in a foreign land. But that is just speculation.
The Chinese in Canada, I guess, are a lucky ethnic group, by force of numbers, and of particular looks, if lucky refers to be lucky to keep distinct. As a person of that origin, and for having been brought up loving my culture (despite not being to speak in any Chinese language fluently), I tend to be for preserving this distinctness, and generally reject attempts at uniformizing This is really hard to tell, in the end, because cultures (and identities) are dynamic things, and I am not saying this as a great sociology specialist, but just as an observer of natural laws being applied in this world (law of mass action, say).
The round table (which will be more like a Ancient Greek-style agora) will be most interesting. I suppose that different people from different origins will be coming. We hope to bring across the point that the Canadian Chinese aren't necessarily a monolithic group, as they came to this country at different times, from different places, and even with very specific cultural backgrounds, in the more or less close to China spectrum.
I spoke with my parents about this, and we agreed that this problem is universal to any population being uprooted. I always thought that Canada's situation is a little unique in today's World, but the lady at CFS with whom I was doing the annual report spent an hour with me before the meeting talking about El Salvador and its president of Palestianian origin, and people of mixed aboriginal, European, African, Middle Eastern origins. At the personal level, it will always be about finding an equilibrium that is suitable for yourself. And at a more macro level, well, that is why I think we're having this discussion...
In case you wondered, I think that the name of "General Tao" came from talking about it with astrael-nyx as such an ideologically wrong delicious Chinese American dish. From my perspective, General Tao chicken may have some roots in China, but then, we may never know how it evolved in this land to suit the taste of the locals. Interestingly, it has a different name in about every locality in North America. It is "General Tao" in the beautiful city of Montreal, but the volunteers' coordinator at the CFS always calls it "General Tso's", having lived in NYC and Toronto for some time.
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