Food, Hunger and Identity in Mei Ng's Eating Chinese Food Naked and in Lan Samantha Chang's Hunger

Elisabetta Marino (University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Italy)

[complete paper]

Different types of food, their ingredients, their preparation, eating habits and the taboos connected with them, have always been deeply linked with tradition, with the preservation and the transmission of cultural values from mothers to daughters, from one generation to the next. For first generation Chinese Americans, such as the protagonists of Mei Ng's Eating Chinese Food Naked (1998) and Lan Samantha Chang's Hunger (1998), traditional food is on the one hand a means of creating a bridge with their past, with their roots -- and, consequently, the kitchen or the Chinese restaurant in Chinatown are a safe ground to move upon; on the other hand, Chinese food could be the emblem of a difference often perceived as embarrassing, of family ties that need to be severed by those who aim at the integration and are, therefore, "hungry" to partake the "American dream". This paper aims at exploring the problematic relationship between food and cultural identity in the above-mentioned breakthrough novels by Ng and Chang, two emerging Chinese American writers.

Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001