Thursday 10 September 2015
There's been a trend since the turn of the Century (or Millennium, if you prefer) to examine the story of the Chinese diaspora in North America in terms of restaurants. Young Chinese are exploring their own cultural heritage via the lens of a menu.
Here's a link to Karen Tam's 2006 Installation at YYZ Gallery: Shangri-La Caf: A Division
of Gold Mountain Restaurant.
In Canada the first wave of immigrants from China built the CPR. Every navvy camp (to use the historically correct and fortunately ethnically-neutral term) had a group of men who cooked traditional meals for the work crews. Obtaining certain items was always an issue.
Food issues were often the cause of work stoppage and job actions. Some Chinese would drop off the railroad and open a restaurant in whatever prairie town they happened to be in. Stepping out from that center, those millennial artists observe that Chinese-Canadian cuisine was the first Fusion cuisine. Also, these restaurants were seen as a tasty window on the exotic East. In that sense it presages the fascination with all things Egyptian that occurred after the successful Howard Carter-Lord Carnarvon opening of Tut's tomb.