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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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Chinese Cooks as Stewards of Empire

Chinese Cooks as Stewards of Empire

(p.44) 3 Chinese Cooks as Stewards of Empire
Chop Suey, USA

Yong Chen

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the entry of the Chinese into servitude as cooks and servants in the nineteenth century, which illustrates their historical role as stewards of the emerging American empire as one of consumption and represents a precursor to their future conspicuous position in the restaurant business. Three features mark the Chinese presence in the service sector: first, their preponderance in certain geographic areas such as California; second, long before being officially christened as a model minority in the late twentieth century, the Chinese were praised as exemplary cooks and servants, used by white employers as the ideal for personal- and domestic-service work; third, in time Chinese America would become virtually a population of service workers, cooking food and washing clothes for Americans.

Keywords:   Chinese cooks, empire, consumption, United States, restaurant business, service industry, servitude

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