Have You Eaten Yet? Stories
Have You Eaten Yet? Stories is a fictional short story collection about Chinese food. Before I anger Chinese cuisine experts, I acknowledge that my featured dishes are not “authentic.” I write about transplants, fusion, and junk food. My characters are similarly Chinese-adjacent. They are westernized, conflicted, longing to return to China, or declare independence from it. Their stories expand upon the canon of immigrant kitchens and frugal home-cooking. I needed these stories, ones that reflect Chinese identity as global and varied and human. With President Trump’s references to coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” and discrimination against Chinese restaurants, this representation felt more important than ever. “Dim Sum Days” is a traditional short story for a classic Cantonese brunch, featuring mother-daughter relationships and nods to Joy Luck Club. “DTF” mimics a text conversation and touches on millennial absurdism and hookup culture at Din Tai Fung. “Be Water” explores the violence of the Hong Kong Protests, the intersections of political and private life, and the comfort of cha chaan tengs. “White Rabbit, Sour Plum” covers an immigrant’s first 25 years in America with vignettes and multiple perspectives. My po po begins our phone calls with “Have you eaten yet?” Chinese grandmothers say this interchangeably with “Hello.” Food is a language of love for our people. When we talk about food, we talk about so much more: love and craving, identity and history, family and sacrifice. I chased these themes in my stories. As with most recipes, I followed my gut and tongue.