Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Oral Presentation Session
The 15-episode Chinese Restaurants documentary series explores the issues of history, migration, family, identity as well as food and culture through the lens of family-run Chinese restaurants in 13 countries over five continents. In “Visualizing Taste: Cheuk Kwan's Latin Passions and Chinese Restaurants on Film,” Glenn Deer noted that “Kwan's documentary series is both a spatial mapping of the Chinese diaspora through its foodways and also a form of oral preservation that works with temporality, nostalgia, and memory in complex and poignant ways.”
This is the story of 71-year-old Foo-Ching Chiang who fled China to Taiwan in 1947 as a teenager, but his disagreement with the politics of 1960s Taiwan led him to Argentina. He started working at odd jobs and eventually became the “Spring Roll King of Argentina.” As a self-styled cultural ambassador, Chiang built a chain of Casa China restaurant-cum-cultural centers from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. Through interviews with Chiang, his friends and his family, the story explores Chiang’s affinity for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, his internationalism, and his belief that “within four seas, all men are brothers.”
Chiang’s story is back-grounded by the writer’s search for a family-run Chinese restaurant in the land of tango; an exposition of the history of Chinese immigration and the current community in Argentina; a travelogue featuring the cultural ambiance and “sights and sounds” of Buenos Aires; as well as situating the narrative in a socio-historical and geo-political context, past and present.