If you think our country has gone berserk what with all the delegate stealing (in Indiana, per Drudge, delegates are being taken even before their primary election) or that someone could win a state only to find out the party has given the winnings to someone else – a complete subversion of the voting process of our country – or that it would be wrong to say all lives matter, that’s only the tip of the insanity raging in our country today.
I ran across this piece at The Braiser, a blog that claims to give info, along with gossip and editorializing, about chefs and restaurateurs.
It boils down all the craziness into one icky, gooey mess.
Calvin Trillin, a renowned food writer from New York, is shishkebabed for an inocuous poem he wrote.
This week, Calvin Trillin, a food writer and humorist published a poem in The New Yorker called “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” The poem goes:
Have they run out of provinces yet?
If they haven’t, we’ve reason to fret.
Long ago, there was just Cantonese.
(Long ago, we were easy to please.)
But then food from Szechuan came our way,
Making Cantonese strictly passé.
Szechuanese was the song that we sung,
Though the ma po could burn through your tongue.
Then when Shanghainese got in the loop
We slurped dumplings whose insides were soup.
Then Hunan, the birth province of Mao,
Came along with its own style of chow.
So we thought we were finished, and then
A new province arrived: Fukien.
Then respect was a fraction of meagre
For those eaters who’d not eaten Uighur.
And then Xi’an from Shaanxi gained fame,
Plus some others—too many to name.
Now, as each brand-new province appears,
It brings tension, increasing our fears:
Could a place we extolled as a find
Be revealed as one province behind?
So we sometimes do miss, I confess,
Simple days of chow mein but no stress,
When we never were faced with the threat
Of more provinces we hadn’t met.
Is there one tucked away near Tibet?
Have they run out of provinces yet?
I read this poem, and I think he’s making fun of me. I’m that person. I eat kale, and also complain about kale and avocado toast, and I love when restaurants put eggs on things. And did someone say bacon? I’m in. I was all about Cantonese food. Now give me spicy Szechuan food or give me nothing at all. Unless of course you’re talking about soup dumplings. Those I’ll eat anytime. His poem described me, exactly. I thought he was making fun of me, and that was that.
Not so. As Grub Street pointed out, there was a lot of outrage over the poem. Another interpretation of the poem is that Trillin is saying “there are too many types of Chinese people.”
Eddie Huang, restaurateur and chef, took to Twitter to express his disappointment: “The answer is YES soon the world is going to run out of provinces for basic whites to gaze on and consume and toss to the side.”
Novelist Joyce Carol Oates got in on the action, too: “Has Calvin Trillin written a poem utilizing the syllable ‘Cruz’ yet? Request here.
New York Times food critic Pete Wells gave it a different read: “Before we beat Trillin to a pulp, let’s remember there are professional food writers who think ‘Asian food’ is a meaningful phrase.”
Of course, I’m not Chinese. I don’t know what it’s like to read the poem as a Chinese person. Is it racist? I’m not sure. If it offends people, it’s probably in poor taste, at least in some capacity. Let us know what you think in the comments.
Clearly he is making fun of the fads that sweep New York every few weeks and the people who slavishly (can I say that?) follow them.
Must we find offense everywhere, even on the plate?
Evidently yes, because another story followed. When John Kasich visited the Bronx, he did an unthinkable thing. He ate ham at an Italian eatery. The same Dana Eisenberg reports:
If you are John Kasich, eating is tough stuff. First of all, he doesn’t understand the basic rules of fork and knifery, specifically with regard to pizza.
The GOP candidate went to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx today, famous for its Italian food, and really went HAM. I know how he feels. When I’m at a new restaurant I like to try a lot of different things, because who knows when I’ll be back again? But Kasich really took it to the next level. He went after it at Mike’s Deli, consuming two orders of pasta, a massive sandwich, pasta e fagioli, and wine. He appears to be involved in some sort of competitive eating challenge, though who it was against I have no idea.
His first offense was to order ham, then to like the place so much he ordered pasta. Damn him! If that isn’t bias/discrimination/racism, I don’t know what is.
God help any of them if they visit Chinatown or Harlem.