Deal with it, people. I know some people aren’t happy at their “culture” being “bastardized,” and perhaps it is, but as a child of immigrants, I’m angered by this perspective. It’s as if you are saying my culture doesn’t and shouldn’t exist. I was born and raised in Canada. In Toronto. In the multi-cultural Toronto of the 80s and 90s. I’m not completely “culturally Chinese.” Heck, my PARENTS, being from Hong Kong, aren’t exactly culturally “Chinese” if you look at it from a mainland China perspective. It’s not fair, and perhaps even ignorant, to say that fusion cuisine is “wrong.”
I find that this perspective often comes from so-called “liberals” who are trying to be very politically correct because they want to ensure that they “understand” other cultures and want to make sure that they’re not offending anyone (these individuals are usually multi-generation Canadians and/or first or second generation with family from the British Isles or France). What they don’t realize is they are actually doing the opposite. And are also “othering” these groups, making them feel even more “different.” Please, people, we aren’t museum exhibits. We’re people. These views ALSO come from immigrants, but that’s a bit more understandable (but only if they’re family and only if they’re “of a certain age” if you know what I mean).
We need to be allowed to form our own views and interpretation of culture, food, fashion and so forth based on our personal experiences and what shaped us. If we didn’t have a grandmother who knew how to cook and was able to teach us how to make cultural foods the “proper” way (rather than boring, comfort food-ish fusiony meals) then we won’t know how to make so-called REAL homemade traditional foods. Besides, what’s “real” anyway? There are Chinese diaspora all over the world and not everyone is off the plane from Hong Kong or mainland China. Some came by way of the Caribbean and haven’t even set foot in East Asia (other than to visit) since the 19th century. So what of them? Jamaican-inspired Chinese food is very fusion-y. So is Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng cuisine (most of it is kind of low end, but you’ll find dishes like baked pork chop and rice and the island’s so-called national drink, Hong Kong milk tea (image below)) Is it fair to criticize them?
All I’m saying is I’m really unsure if I feel comfortable with all of the separation/what someone can can’t do due to appropriation/bastardization these days. I think it only separates us as individuals and makes immigrants and first generation – especially people who are NOT of British or French descent – more like museum exhibits and objects than human beings. And sadly, it isn’t JUST multigeneration Anglo/Franco-Canadians feeling this way. I hear it from people who are no more than two generations off the plane/boat as well. I’m not sure if it’s just brainwashing or ignorance, but it DOES bother me. Perhaps I’m just sensitive.
I realize I’ll be heavily criticized for this post, but hey, I’m allowed to voice my opinion, right? I shouldn’t be considered “stupid” or “ignorant” as I often am in certain Facebook and other online circles, but I often wonder if THEY are the ones who’re not too bright or if they’re just playing devil’s advocate.
First image: By AlexLMX/Shutterstock
Second image by author, via Prospere Magazine