Chinese food takes center stage when Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America opens at MOCA on October 6, 2016. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy invites the audience into a conversation with 30 Chinese and Asian American chefs and home cooks about the meaning of Chinese food as a platform for experimentation, a test of authenticity, a means of immigrant survival, and a microcosm of Chinese culture. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy is a follow-up presentation on MOCA’s 2004 exhibit, Have You Eaten Yet?which told the history of Chinese restaurants in America through a collection of menus, travel diaries, photographs, and other ephemera.
The exhibit will weave together the complex story of Chinese food in America through the oral histories of pioneering Asian chefs such as Martin Yan, Ken Hom, Ming Tsai and Anita Lo; new restauranteurs like Peter and Lisa Chang, Eddie Huang, Jason Wang, and Danny Bowien; and persevering home cooks like Ni Biying..
n Chinese, the saying Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy refers not only to the delicate balance of flavors that define Chinese cooking but also the vicissitudes of life. Set in an immersive multimedia installation, the tapestry of tales that emerge is rich with immigration experiences, food memories, favorite dishes, and cooking inspirations that define the culinary-and personal-identities of these chefs, drawing visitors into a conversation about how food defines Chinese in America and each of us.
“Food is at the heart of Chinese culture, and in America the very definition of Chinese food is constantly contested in home and restaurant kitchens across the country” said Herb Tam, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at MOCA. “This exhibition is really an elaborate dinner table conversation with some of our most exciting chefs about how we define Chinese food and how Chinese food defines us.”
Photo credit: Image of Ni Biying in her kitchen. Courtesy of Museum of Chinese in America .
Museum of Chinese in America 215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013, mocanyc.org