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Chop Suey, USAThe Story of Chinese Food in America$
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Yong Chen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168922

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168922.001.0001

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The Empire and Empire Food

The Empire and Empire Food

(p.21) 2 The Empire and Empire Food
Chop Suey, USA

Yong Chen

Columbia University Press

This chapter links the spread of Chinese food to the geographic and socioeconomic expansion of the United States. This connection is best captured by the notion of “empire food,” which was created in the process of America's empire building for the pleasures of its citizens. While many Americans are unwilling or unable to see their country as an empire, the United States is, nonetheless, an empire of consumption characterized by extraordinary material abundance. It is the kind of empire that an American founding father such as Thomas Jefferson aspired to build in order to ensure freedom and liberty. Standing as an important event in the expansion of the American empire, the multiplication of Chinese restaurants expanded the meaning of American freedom and abundance by extending the dining-out experience to the masses.

Keywords:   Thomas Jefferson, United States, empire food, empire building, consumption, dining out

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