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Chop suey nation : the Legion Cafe and other stories from Canada's Chinese restaurants
2019
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Summary

In 2016, Globe and Mail reporter Ann Hui drove across Canada, from Victoria to Fogo Island, to write about small-town Chinese restaurants and the families who run them. It was only after the story was published that she discovered her own family could have been included--her parents had run their own Chinese restaurant, The Legion Cafe, before she was born. This discovery, and the realization that there was so much of her own history she didn't yet know, set her on a time-sensitive mission: to understand how, after generations living in a poverty-stricken area of Guangdong, China, her family had somehow wound up in Canada.

Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's Chinese Restaurantsweaves together Hui's own family history--from her grandfather's decision to leave behind a wife and newborn son for a new life, to her father's path from cooking in rural China to running some of the largest "Western" kitchens in Vancouver, to the unravelling of a closely guarded family secret--with the stories of dozens of Chinese restaurant owners from coast to coast. Along her trip, she meets a Chinese-restaurant owner/small-town mayor, the owner of a Chinese restaurant in a Thunder Bay curling rink, and the woman who runs a restaurant alone, 365 days a year, on the very remote Fogo Island. Hui also explores the fascinating history behind "chop suey" cuisine, detailing the invention of classics like "ginger beef" and "Newfoundland chow mein," and other uniquely Canadian fare like the "Chinese pierogies" of Alberta.

Hui, who grew up in authenticity-obsessed Vancouver, begins her journey with a somewhat disparaging view of small-town "fake Chinese" food. But by the end, she comes to appreciate the essentially Chinese values that drive these restaurants--perseverance, entrepreneurialism and deep love for family. Using her own family's story as a touchstone, she explores the importance of these restaurants in the country's history and makes the case for why chop suey cuisine should be recognized as quintessentially Canadian.

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Table of Contents
Author's Notep. 11
Introductionp. 13
Chapter 1Victoria, BC. Spring 2016p. 19
Chapter 2Burnaby, BC. Summer 2016p. 33
Chapter 3Vulcan, AB. Spring 2016p. 45
Chapter 4Jingweicun, Guangdong, China. 1924-52p. 63
Chapter 5Drumheller, AB. Spring 2016p. 69
Chapter 6Jingweicun, Guangdong, China. 1952-60p. 81
Chapter 7Stony Plain, AB. Spring 2016p. 87
Chapter 8Guangzhou, China. 1961-65p. 93
Chapter 9Boissevain, MB. Spring 2016p. 99
Chapter 10Guangzhou, China. 1966-74p. 109
Chapter 11Thunder Bay, ON. Spring 2016p. 119
Chapter 12Hong Kong-Vancouver, BC. 1974p. 129
Chapter 13Nackawic, NB. Spring 2016p. 143
Chapter 14Vancouver, BC. 1974-75p. 151
Chapter 15Moncton, NB. Spring 2016p. 159
Chapter 16Abbotsford, BC. 1976-77p. 163
Chapter 17Glace Bay, NS. Spring 2016p. 173
Chapter 18Abbotsford, BC. 1977p. 185
Chapter 19Deer Lake, NL. Spring 2016p. 193
Chapter 20Abbotsford, BC. 1977-84p. 207
Chapter 21Fogo Island, NL. Spring 2016p. 225
Chapter 22Burnaby, BC. December 2016p. 243
Chapter 23Toronto, ON. January 2017p. 255
Chapter 24Burnaby, BC. March 2017p. 267
Acknowledgementsp. 283
Select Bibliographyp. 286
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