Have you noticed when the topic of Asian food arises, the issue of authenticity is never far behind? For the most part, we don’t seem to care nearly as much if our croissants are authentic or even our burritos, but when it comes to our dim sum, ramen or kim chee, authenticity seems to be our measure of both deliciousness and credibility.

Recently I wrote a review of three Chinese cookbooks and I struggled with what was authentic. I’m not sure I know what makes any food authentic or if it’s even that important. Preserving culinary traditions is important, but beyond that I’m just not sure.

Here’s an event coming up that is worth checking out if you are passionate about Asian food and pondering over the issue of authenticity too…

Wait, is that Gravy with my Katsu?
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Japanese Cultural & Community Center
1840 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

Ever wondered where the culinary elite get their ramen fix or if that new pho place down the street was worth trying? Or maybe you’d like to find out where the most authentic Indian place is?

A recent NY Times Magazine article explored the difference between Chinese food in the US and China, decrying that they were as different as night and day. The question of authenticity comes up time and time again when you start discussing the ethnic food scene in the US, leading to intense debates amongst foodies all over.

Join Third Thursdays this July as they explore these questions and more with panelists from both sides of the kitchen door. From the merits (and demerits) of authentic Asian cuisine to the elevation of Asian food to fine dining and the melting pot of fusion cooking, we’ll go through it all and see if grandma’s kim chee is really the best.

Panelists include:
Dominic Ainza of Mercury Appetizer Bar

Joyce Guan of Charles Chocolates

and our very own Thy Tran!

Recommended donation w/dinner: $10, $15 or $20
Recommended donation for program and refreshments only: $5
(no one will be turned away for lack of funds, please email feewaiver at thirdthursdays.org to request a fee waiver)
Your donation supports refreshments, room rental, and any honoria

email questioncomment at thirdthursdays.org.

RSVP link
Please fill out the rsvp form by Tuesday, July 17th at 5pm

Another resource for finding and better understanding Chinese food in particular is the web site of Nicole Mones. Mones is the author of The Last Chinese Chef a book we reviewed not long ago and that Ruth Reichl, Editor of Gourmet calls “the most thorough explanation of Chinese food that I’ve ever read in the English language.”

You can read an excerpt of the book here. But do poke around her web site and check out some of the recipes and articles. She even has recommendations of where to eat Chinese food in the US and in China.
Note: the dinner scheduled by Book Passages with Nicole Mones is sold out!

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