Foreign and yet Familiar

I was looking through a Pei Wei menu during Thanksgiving break and I noticed a line that I’ve seen before. They have the line on their website menu as well:

“Discover something foreign yet familiar”

This reminded me of the Watanna story and the use of mixed-race characters.

Do you think that this “foreign yet familiar” element also resonates with “Asian fusion” restaurants? Or maybe not Asian fusion but more “Americanized” restaurants? When Kevin Shea came to our school, he mentioned how there was a place that served eggrolls with cheese in them. Do you think these kind of concoctions are problematic or innovative? Or simply a matter of business? When my dad complained about some Korean barbecue that was apparently “too sweet” (aka too Americanized), the waitress said that they had to make it this way to please the American customers. Does this suggest a power dynamic between the American customers (dominant) and first-generation restauranteers (…non dominant)? In order to appease the American customers, who may or may not know the culture’s “authentic” cuisine, the non-dominant restauranteers have change the presentation of their culture’s cuisine.

Doesn’t this go against the idea of striving toward “authentic” ethnic dishes?

3 Responses to “Foreign and yet Familiar”

  1. RhinestoneintheRough Says:

    I think it’s definitely an interesting ad slogan. I suppose they added the ‘familiar’ to assure people that it’s the kind of Chinese they’ve had before. It’s reassuring but still adventurous. Whenever I eat out I basically assume that any restaurant I go to is more fusion/Americanized than ‘authentic.’ Americans probably don’t get anything close to real Chinese food. I like Indian food and I tend to order dishes with medium spice and whenever I’m with someone who orders a dish as spicy as possible it doesn’t usually taste any spicier than mine. And this tends to hold true for any type of cuisine. Plus, I’ve eaten korma here in the US, but when I tried it in England I found out, to my surprise, that korma there is much creamier and sweeter. It just goes to show that how food tastes depends on the country you try it in. Also, egg rolls with – American, I bet – cheese sound wrong, but I have to admit, I’d totally try them

  2. kciliber Says:

    Pei Wei isn’t a Chinese restaurant. It’s “Asian fusion.”
    On Colbert Report, there was writer who described her experience researching Chinese-American cuisine–she traveled to China and asked if people knew a dish called “General Tso’s Chicken.” There was a legendary General Tso but nothing logically connected him to the American dish. Also, the writer said that there are more Chinese-American restaurants in the US than any other type of “fast food”–McDonalds, Burger King, Popeyes, etc. combined, but most people don’t realize that because there are less advertisements on TV for Chinese-American food.
    Really? Maybe you should try to “Thai spicy” dishes–I wonder if you’d feel that the spiciness level is the same as the medium ones 😛

  3. RhinestoneintheRough Says:

    Whoops, as soon as I heard “egg roll” all I could think about was Chinese food, even though they’re actually Japanese…

    Anyway, I posted this link on your other blog entry, but it related so well to this one to so I’m posting it here as well: