Huang's World: Feeding the culture with Eddie Huang
Taiwanese-Chinese-American chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang does not fit into a box. With authenticity at the helm of his culinary forays, he has built a culinary enterprise spanning several mediums–from his memoir “Fresh Off the Boat” to his collaboration with Vice, “Huang’s World”. In those, Eddie has explored his experiences as an Asian-American learning to identify with his roots while standing at the precipice of an evolving, multicultural American identity.
He is one of the most interesting figures in the American restaurant scene today, and continues to document the cultural fluidity of food in our country and around the world in a way that is raw, genuine, and necessary to our progressive mindset as a nation with a burgeoning multicultural identity.
“What I realized was it didn't matter what American people thought of me, or what Chinese people thought of me. It's OK to not fit into any boxes.”
In his show, Huang’s World, Eddie explores cultures all around the world through the theme of food. Here are a few of MANDO's favorite clips:
In his Shanghai episode, Eddie goes to a an American-Chinese restaurant that’s opened up in China. He explores the ironic dynamic of the “inauthentic” cuisine going full circle being served in China, after being developed and evolved in America.
To cap the episode, Eddie relives his upbringing in a conversation with his friend about growing up Chinese-American:
“Yeah it’s tough because there’s not many around [...] especially if you’re like us, that engaged in American culture. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do as a Chinese-American kid. I felt like it was a curse when I was growing up, being Chinese. But it’s a blessing later on because you’ve been forced to adapt, to engage, and explore and actually figure out what your identity is.”
In London, Eddie goes to Brick Lane, a neighborhood that's historically been home to Turks, Jews, and now Bengalis. They go to eat British-Indian food, ordering Chicken Tikka Masala, which is known as the most popular dish in the country. Comparing it to Chinese-American food or New York Pizza, Eddie talks about how these cuisines were evolved by immigrants, to “get their foot in the door” and create something more palatable to locals.
On the topic of our increasingly multicultural world, Eddie gives some cautionary advice on enjoying and experiencing parts of others' cultures, but not letting that prescribe a blanketing judgement on all the people in a group:
“We have a global problem, and my show’s included. All of us wanna know more about each other and we have a desire to understand where we’re from. But, in that quest, we gotta resist the temptation to allow any individual or singular voice to speak for an entire community. Whether it’s Russians on a hot mic, a black Brooklynite exporting Ebonics, or just a China man in a tiger suit who’s stuck in the middle. We can’t be lazy and pass judgment based on any one voice in village.”