Have You Eaten Yet: Stories from Chinese Restaurants Around the World (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
An eye-opening and soul-nourishing journey through Chinese food around the world.
*A PEOPLE MAGAZINE BEST NEW BOOK*
*A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE*
*A NEW YORK POST BEST NEW BOOK*
From Cape Town, South Africa, to small-town Saskatchewan, family-run Chinese restaurants are global icons of immigration, community and delicious food. The cultural outposts of far-flung settlers, bringers of dim sum, Peking duck and creative culinary hybrids, Chinese restaurants are a microcosm of greater social forces. They are an insight into time, history, and place.
Author and film-maker Cheuk Kwan, a self-described “card-carrying member of the Chinese diaspora,” weaves a global narrative by linking the myriad personal stories of chefs, entrepreneurs, labourers and dreamers who populate Chinese kitchens worldwide. Behind these kitchen doors lies an intriguing paradox which characterizes many of these communities: how Chinese immigrants have resisted—or have often been prevented from—complete assimilation into the social fabric of their
new homes. In both instances, the engine of their economic survival—the Chinese restaurant and its food—has become seamlessly woven into towns and cities all around the world.
An intrepid travelogue of grand vistas, adventure and serendipity, Have You Eaten Yet? charts a living atlas of global migration, ultimately revealing how an excellent meal always tells an even better story.
About the Author
Cheuk Kwan was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. He has also lived in the US, Saudi Arabia and Canada, and speaks English, Japanese, French and several Chinese dialects. Kwan is the co-founder of The Asianadian, a magazine dedicated to promoting Asian Canadian arts, culture and politics, and a film production company, Tissa Films. His cinematic works—Song of the Exile, Latin Passions and Beyond Frontiers—braid his personal experiences with his love of travel and appreciation for Chinese culture worldwide. He now resides in Toronto, ON.
"Have You Eaten Yet? is a charming book that weaves its profiles together into an extended meditation on identity, belonging and a sense of home.”
— The Economist
"Across more than a dozen countries, Kwan searches for flavors that remind him of home as he samples the best Chinese food that Havana, Darjeeling, Mombasa and other locales have to offer. Interspersed between these accounts and Kwan’s forays into his own background are history lessons to flesh out the sociopolitical context behind each story of global migration, offering a compelling vantage on the lives of those who fill its pages. Many of the subjects’ stories are astonishing, and each is unique, even if the forces that shaped them — hardship, war, familial ties — are not. It is these stories that bring “Have You Eaten Yet?” to life."
— Washington Post
"This delicious and delightful tour of Chinese food around the world blends sharp journalism and tender memoir."
"At its best, Kwan’s book reveals the ways in which diasporic Chinese restaurants are like test kitchens experimenting in opportunities for a better life, however nebulous that pursuit might be...Kwan’s book is a kind of love letter to his varied homes and a memorial to his journey through them, as refracted through the lives of far-flung strangers."
— New York Times Book Review
"These narratives give insight into the relationship between food, ethnicity, and identity—and show that a dish can be much more than just dinner."
— Travel + Leisure
"Have You Eaten Yet? explores racism and more, one dish at a time. Have You Eaten Yet? will certainly leave you hungry for Chinese food."
— San Francisco Chronicle
"With marvelous insights into how Chinese people have amalgamated so firmly into so many diverse societies, Kwan’s book is more sociological study than culinary guide."
"Flavorful descriptions of foods mix with adventuresome travel mishaps. The stories of women in particular are resounding, encompassing both vulnerability and stalwart resolve. Have You Eaten Yet? is a fascinating, inquisitive global search for Chinese tastes that evoke home in any corner of the world."
— Foreword Reviews
“A heartfelt and entertaining culinary and historical survey of the Chinese diaspora.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“An intimate yet sweeping lens on the Chinese diaspora through the institution of the family-run restaurant all around the world. From the jungles of the Amazon, to the heights of the Himalayas, to tropical islands of the Caribbean, to the fjords of Scandinavia, Kwan explores how, as immigrants, all our stories are all different yet all our stories are the same.”
— Jennifer 8. Lee, journalist, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles and producer of The Search for General Tso