OT digression in FW: "Chinese Hot Dogs" in NY Times

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 20 02:00:37 UTC 2007

At 5:20 PM -0600 12/19/07, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>Barry Popik sent the item below to a select group of ads-lers, and
>I'm now forwarding it to the entire group.  I find anything having
>to do with the term "hot dog" to be of interest. The digression,
>though, is definitely OT.
>Gerald Cohen
>We interrupt this food-fusion moment for a digression.
>As we roll into a time of year when movies and Chinese food seem as
>much a part of Jewish American tradition as breaking matzo on
>Passover, City Room would like to examine the affinity between Jews
>and Chinese food, a relationship that has been the subject of many a
>comedian's joke, YouTube video
><http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1uZ_W7atDE>  and academic study.
>One paper, by Hanna Miller, even goes as far to say that Chinese
>food is the ethnic cuisine of the American Jew
>, arguing that they identify more with Chinese food than the Eastern
>European food of their immigrant ancestors. And two sociologists,
>Gaye Tuchman and Harry G. Levine, investigated the historical and
>cultural reasons for the Jewish Chinese culinary axis in their 1992
>paper Safe Treyf
><http://soc.qc.cuny.edu/Staff/levine/SAFE-TREYF.pdf>  [pdf].
>So why is it that chow mein is the chosen food of the chosen people?
>Among the theories posited:
>*       Chinese food does not use dairy (unlike the other two main
>longtime ethnic cuisines in America, Italian and Mexican), so when
>many more Jews kept kosher, Chinese food was easier to eat.
>*       Chinese and Jews are among the two largest (if not the two
>largest) non-Christian immigrant groups, so they followed similar
>calendars. This is where Chinese food on Christmas may stem from,
>since Chinese restaurants were open.
>*       The Chinese use of garlic, rice and chicken were familiar to
>an Eastern European palate.
>*       Chinese food was not too expensive and involved family-style sharing.
>*       Chinese food represented a way to become cosmopolitan.
>*       Chinatown and the Lower East Side, where a significant
>number of the Jewish immigrants from around the turn of the century
>lived, bordered each other. Indeed, the Eldridge Street Synagogue
><http://www.eldridgestreet.org/> , one of the oldest Jewish houses
>of worship in the United States, is now squarely in Chinatown these
>days. (It even has an egg roll festival.)
>End of digression.

Interesting (if admittedly OT) argument in the digression, but none
of this motivates the frequently asserted or presupposed tenet that
pork (in particular, barbecued pork or spare ribs) doesn't count (as
trayf) when it's served in a Chinese restaurant.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list