Published originally in 1914, this is the first Asian cookbook published in America. The fascinating new introduction by Asian cooking authority Jacqueline M. Newman reveals the trickery at play from the two sisters of Anglo-Chinese descent who wrote the book. The Chinese recipes are simple Chinese-American ones using ordinary ingredients. Many are for chop suey and chow mein using lots of celery, bean sprouts, and gravy. The Japanese meat and fish recipes are also simple even though several use rabbit, ...
Published originally in 1914, this is the first Asian cookbook published in America. The fascinating new introduction by Asian cooking authority Jacqueline M. Newman reveals the trickery at play from the two sisters of Anglo-Chinese descent who wrote the book. The Chinese recipes are simple Chinese-American ones using ordinary ingredients. Many are for chop suey and chow mein using lots of celery, bean sprouts, and gravy. The Japanese meat and fish recipes are also simple even though several use rabbit, pheasant, venison, pigeon, even whale; the vegetable dishes are more Chinese than Japanese. Desserts straddle both cuisines. This book marks the beginning of the interest in Asian cuisine in America, and it is notable, almost 100 years later, to see the way authenticity had been edited for both the public and the author's purposes.
Onoto Watanna was the pen name of Winnifred Eaton, a Canadian of mixed Chinese and Anglo-Saxon descent. Creating for herself the persona of a Japanese noblewoman, she wrote immensely popular romances that drew upon, yet also carefully undercut, the orientalist cliches of her time. Eve Oishi is assistant professor of Women's Studies at California State University in Long Beach.
Professor Emeritus, Queens College and Editor of Flavor and Fortune, a Chinese food magazine.
An introduction to the Chinese-Japanese Cookbook by Jacqueline M Newman Professor Emeritus---Queens College and Editor of Flavor and Fortune, a Chinese food magazine Copyright Jacqueline M Newman Fascination comes with exploration; examining nuances in this fantastic out-of-print 1914 cookbook is no exception. It is a gem because it looks at what was common in those days. Chinoiserie was adored earlier by Thomas Jefferson who ordered and used Chinese tea service and planted Chinese vegetables. It was adored by Benjamin Franklin who wrote to Jefferson about things Chinese. It was adored in times when Chinese food was devoured literally and by reading about it and other Asian foods. This book has many interesting recipes, particularly among the Chinese set. For example, few early or later Chinese cookbooks use water chestnut flour. Rare is the one with recipes for bird's nests. Hardly ever was there one with chicken and pork in a single chop suey recipe. Exceptional is the 'pickle' recipe called Chinese Pickled Yellow Turnips. I recall eating it at Chinese homes in the late 1930s and early 1940s including at my mom's Chinese friend's home. The recipe for Lai Yut, also called Moon Tarts, is also a gem. This rarity is now called Moon Cakes. In years past, the Chinese hunted geese. This recipe uses their clarified fat and incorporates lychee paste. Instructions to make it are included. The copy on my desk has reddish-brown fabric-covered boards. Pasted on the front is a picture of a Japanese lady in kimono and obi. Its size is 16.6x10 cm, the front board corners square, the gilt lettering on front and spine now worn. Inside is information and recipes, two pages of advertising with one page showing three other books by Rand McNally, the reverse side with an ad for their House of Good Juveniles. Ravenna Rare Books, a dealer in Seattle, Washington once listed a slightly different copy. Theirs was but 16.6 by 8.4 centimeters, its cover brown, boards with rounded corners, end-papers depicting a pattern of ? x 5/16 inch squares and a man outside the door of an inn ringing a dinner gong with spoon and pan. The initials H.M. by J.W. appear on their copy, the HM and JW stand for Hotel Monthly and John Willy, the publisher. Theirs has one advertising leaf at the end for The Hotel Monthly Handbook they published. It is not uncommon to find several different editions in early Chinese and Japanese cookbooks; were there others? A 1994 article, ""Decoding Onoto Watanna"" by Yuko Matsukawa in Tricksterism in Turn-of-the-century American Literature (Elizabeth Ammons and Annette White-Parks, editors; London: University Press of New England, pp. 104-25) indicates this book is full of tricks. One such, the Eaton sisters given names, Edith (1865-1914) and Winnifred (1875-1954). They are Anglo-Saxon, of Anglo-Chinese descent, and among the earliest of Asian-American writers. Edith assumes the pen name Sui Sin Far, and writes short stories about Chinese-American communities on America's west coast. Winnifred takes the pseudonym Onoto Watanna, writing popular romances with Japanese and American characters. For her first name, she uses the 'pen' name of a Japanese fountain pen called the Onoto. It was made by the Thomas de la Rue Company and uses it with permission. Is it a trick for her fictitious Japanese identity? Why that name tom-foolery, and why the Japanese lady wearing a beautiful blue kimono on the cover of my copy. She is kneeling and using her right hand to stir a bowl of hot rice or hot soup? It is sending forth lots of steam advising the book is full of hot air? The Chinese and Japanese sections are dissimilar. The Chinese one has sixty pages and sixty-two recipes in eleven recipe sections, and 'Rules for Cooking.' The Japanese one has forty pages with forty-seven recipes, and a list titled 'Chinese and Japanese Groceries.' The recipes indicate more expertise in Chinese-American cookery. If the preface is to be believed, the recipes were handed down ""from a worthy descendant of a long line of noted Chinese cooks"" and attributed to ""high Mandarins from Shanghai."" As most are distinctly Cantonese matching the immigrant population of their times, is this another trick? Mama Eaton is Chinese and adopted at age three by English missionaries. Their father is British and all live in the United States. The writers say the recipes can be cooked and served in any American home. We see them as simple Chinese-American ones using ordinary ingredients. Many are for chop suey and chow mein using lots of celery, bean sprouts, and gravy. They imitate the cooking of the few Chinese immigrants in the United States, most from Guangzhou. The Japanese meat and fish recipes are also simple even though several use rabbit, pheasant, venison pigeon, even whale; the vegetable dishes more Chinese than Japanese. Desserts straddle both cuisines. This 1914 dual Asian cookery-culture Englishhhhhh-language cookbook is the first of a multi-cultural Asian genre. There are three Chinese one that precede it (Blasdale, 1899; Gilbreth, 1910, and Nolton,1911) and another published the same year (Garner, 1914). It is the second English-language cookbook located with Japanese recipes published in the United States, the first a Japanese reprint done in 1901 in Oakland, California. Did the authors like Chinese and Japanese food or is the book a trick to cover their other concerns? They say, ""When it is known how simple and clean are the ingredients used to make up these Oriental dishes, the Westerner will cease to feel that natural repugnance which assails one when about to taste a strange dish of a new and strange land."" Did they like Asian foods? There is no indication their mom actually cooked Chinese or Japanese food for them, her husband, or her fourteen other children. Did she know the foods of her heritage? Did she share it with these daughters, or is this book a search for their roots or another trick? Winnifred's first pen name means 'to cross' and may sound Japanese, but it is not. Is this crossing another trick? The Japanese recipes seem more Chinese than Japanese, the former attributed to someone from Shanghai. How would a chef from there know about chop suey and chow mein? The authors recommend going to restaurants to taste various Chinese and Japanese dishes. In 1914 and years before, most Chinese restaurants in the United States served Cantonese food; rare was the chef from Shanghai. Even more rare was a Japanese restaurant chef, so is that another trick? Yoko Matsukawa, who wrote the cited article, believes the recipes are from local restaurants catering to Chinese-Americans. She believes the authors are defining their own ethnicity and that by tricking they blur boundaries of Chinese and Japanese food. When the book was written, people were fascinated with Asia and Asians, but knew little about these countries or their cuisines. The authors were more knowledgeable because their father made many trips to the countries they wrote about. Their others books were fiction; is this one more story than reality? Is that why the recipe for Boiled and Deviled Cucumbers slices them, serves them with olive oil, vinegar, and cayenne powder and beats in yolks of hard-boiled eggs? Are these yokes another joke? In spite of or because of the many tricks, there is a lot to learn from this dual-culture cookery volume. For example, no other Chinese cookbook has a recipe for Extra White Chop Suey, none has one for Pineapple Fish using two pounds of fish cooked for thirty-five minutes. None has a Meat Chow Mein recipe or any other using half pound of dried mushrooms. None advises never to wash saucepans with soap but to use washing soda or sand. None says ""meat should not be washed, but should be rinsed in cold or lukewarm water and, if necessary, singed over a hot flame and scraped with a hot knife."" Did these sisters live near a family that kept kosher and they learned this poultry-cleaning advise from them? No other Chinese cookbook advises that vegetables and fruit be washed in cold water and if necessary, done fifty times. Learn from its cooking rules, recipes, writing style, and ingredient amounts. They deserve careful perusal. They may also be the ultimate tricks. Before 1920, Chinese cookbooks published in the United States had similar simple recipes. Twenty years later more authentic recipes appear. So, while careful reading does bring laughs, more importantly it teaches lessons and love of the authors efforts to educate Westerners about Asian heritages, as known at that time.