Why Do Jews Love Chinese Food? Ctd

Sep 19 2011 @ 8:47am

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A reader writes:

This article from the Jewish e-zine Tablet gives an excellent and very plausible explanation for the connection between Jews and Chinese food (you can ignore the stuff about the "hip Brooklyn deli").

Another writes:

Philip Roth also addressed this in Portnoy's Complaint. There, Portnoy says his father loves going to the Chinese restaurant because the waitstaff treat him better than he thinks he would be treated at a tony, cloth-napkin joint. "They think we're white," he imagines his father thinking.

Another writes along the same lines:

James Sturm’s great graphic novel “The Golem’s Mighty Swing” depicts a barnstorming Jewish baseball team in the Midwest in the early 1920s.  There’s a throwaway line in one panel, literally a parenthetical aside, where the narrator says “Mo, Wire and I head out to find a restaurant.  We like the chop suey houses (and are never refused service) but there are none in this town.”

Jews were subject to racial prejudice parallel to that suffered by African-Americans, and even beyond the boundaries of melting pot New York, Jews and the Chinese would have been the most marginalized of non-black groups.  The outcasts will stick together one way or another.

Cartoon excerpted above. Another reader:

Some years ago, one of the much-acclaimed Lyrics and Lyricists concerts at the 92nd St Y happened to fall on the Jewish New Year.  The great founder of that series, Maurice Levine, told the following joke (since I don't remember what year it was, I have used the current year):

Welcome to the year 5771.  Did you know that this is the Chinese year 4709?  Do you know why that's important?  It means the Jews wandered in the desert for more than 1000 years before they could get Chinese food.

The elderly Jewish audience ROFLed.

Another looks ahead:

There is the "No Pork Kitchen" Chinese restaurant in New York. (There was a similarly-named Chinese restaurant in an Arab neighborhood in Brooklyn.) The neon sign in the window says, "Halal Chinese Food":

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So we're moving from Kosher to the very similar Halal, as Chinese restaurants target new immigrants.

Update from a reader:

The photo of a restaurant displaying a "Halal Chinese Food" sign is probably not an example of a Chinese restauranteur adapting to new (Muslim) immigrants to the US. China has had a significant Muslim minority for centuries, and consequently, has a traditional Chinese-Islamic cuisine. In one of these restaurants in California, the Chinese sign in the window reads, "Islamic food", while the Arabic sign reads, "Chinese food".