%3Fxml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"%3F>
After I attended Kapiolani Community College for a year, I started thinking about getting a job that is related to my major of accounting. As I have mentioned before, American employers always want to employ someone with experience, so it is especially tough to find that first job related to your field. This is the reason why many people want to go to the most famous colleges because students from these schools have an easier time finding the first job. However, after you have worked at a job and collected experience, employers would look at what you have done and what you can do for them instead of where you graduated. So now when friends in China ask me which American school their kids should attend, I would tell them that if they have the money and skills they should go to the most prestigious schools. However, if they can’t get into the best, they shouldn’t be discouraged, because college lasts for only four years, and the road of life is very very long, and a college degree will not determine their entire destiny in life.
After I learned some accounting basics in America, I was determined to find a job related to accounting. Since I didn’t have any experience, I emphasized that I had a 4.0 GPA, but this first off campus job was still very difficult to find. After trying for a while, I found a job as a cashier at a store in the famous Ala Moana Shopping Center. The store was owned by a Japanese American woman and I worked there for about four months. However, I have to honestly say that these four months were the darkest and most unfair days I have ever experienced in America. These days made me truly experience the ugly side of capitalism that was taught in China’s Marxism classes. This capitalist that hired me forced me to work very heavy labor, overtime, and refused to pay.
“Where there is oppression, there will be resistance.” I think this Japanese American woman underestimated international students from China. She thought that we were uneducated, and that she could easily control immigrants from China, Vietnam, and other “third world nations” because none of us spoke English well. She didn’t think that Chinese students my age were educated with the message of revolution since we experienced the Cultural Revolution. She didn’t know that we were taught the message of, “there is endless fun in fighting with the sky, there is endless fun in fighting with the ground, and there is endless fun in fighting with class enemies”. The most important thing is that in China I have had some education in law, and I knew that what she did was not only unfair and cruel but also broke the law. Even though my English was horrible at that time and I couldn’t express myself well, I managed to team up with another student she hired and fought with her in court. Even though this happened more than a decade ago, I still get angry when I think about it. Recently I went back to China and heard on the news that a foreign capitalist was beating Chinese workers, and that also made me very angry. I thought that this type of abuse rarely happens in a capitalist country like America, but now how could a socialist nation like China let it happen? This chapter will detail my story of fighting against oppression.
To be continued!
Related Articles at The Baglady:
In Hawaii, I was able to procure green onion, salt, vegetable oil, and I also got some Chinese cooking wine from Honolulu’s Chinatown. Additionally, I added Morri’s favorite sauce from Hong Kong called the “Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Oyster Flavored Sauce”.
After I prepared all the materials, I started making the authentic Yangzhou Chowfan. After classes ended that day, I went to the cafeteria filled with excitement. I saw that Craig was writing the day’s menu on a blackboard. Morri saw me walk in and greeted me with a smile, “Today, you are the chef! We will be your helpers.”
I said, “No way, you guys are still my bosses”.
As I talked to Morri, I saw what Craig wrote on the blackboard. Hah! He already wrote “Original Yangzhou Fried Rice”, and to emphasize the authenticity he added the line, “cooked by a chef from Yangzhou, China” on the bottom.
After I saw this advertisement I felt that I had a tremendous responsibility to create the best fried rice today to showcase the culinary arts of my hometown and country.
I immediately jumped into the hectic cooking process. First, the main ingredient of rice must be prepared correctly. Yangzhou Fried Rice isn’t exactly one single dish, but it is a dish mixed with the staple food of rice. In China the best kind of rice to use for this is called Yangshan Rice. It is a long grained rice that is not sticky after being cooked, and that is the best type of rice for frying. Hawaii didn’t have this type of rice so I used Thai Jasmine Rice. The Thai rice grains are rounder and smaller and gave off a pleasing scent after being cooked. The most important thing about making the rice is putting in the correct amount of water. If too much water was used then the rice would be soggy and not suitable for frying. However, if there is too little water then the rice would be raw and uncooked. At that time, we had a giant rice cooker and put in about ten pounds of rice. Then, I put in water that rose about 5 to 6 centimeters above the rice, and started cooking.
While the rice was cooking, I started to prepare the other materials. First I chopped the chicken leg meat and lean pork into tiny squares, and then I chopped up the shrimp. Hawaii didn’t have the small river shrimps we usually used in China, but they had giant prawns from the ocean. In order to make these ingredients tender in the rice, I added some cornstarch and a little bit of salt and cooking wine. In China, we would also add some MSG, but in America MSG is considered bad for health. Even though you could buy the best Japanese manufactured MSG for very little money, many restaurants in America would post a message in their menus that say, “No MSG”. So I also followed the local customs and stopped using MSG in our cooking. Now we haven’t purchased MSG for over ten years.
After all the materials were chopped and mixed, I asked Morri to light the kitchen’s large furnace. The cafeteria has a gas furnace that made a loud ping when it was lighted. I used a small frying pan first and put in some oil and fried the chicken,pork, prawns, and snow peas for about three minutes and then took them out. Since these materials will go back in the pot with the rice later they do not need to be cooked completely. If they are cooked completely and then cooked again they would not be as tender and would not taste as good.
Now the rice was cooked, so I told Morri to take all the rice out and put it in a large flat pan to cool a little bit. Also, I asked her to break the large clumps into smaller pieces so the grains could dry a little bit and be better for frying.
Five minutes later, I put a very large wok on the furnace and added vegetable oil. Then I poured in the scrambled egg mix with some chopped green onion. The eggs sizzled and jumped in the wok and many white and yellow bubbles started to pop with oil. The sizzling paired with the howling of the fans and sounded like a kitchen orchestra.
The rice must be put into the pot not long after the eggs are in. This is so that the eggs can be cooked and mixed evenly with the rice. Then the other materials can be added with a little bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil. It would be ready after a few more minutes of mixing. This fried rice contains the yellow of the eggs, green of the onions, red of the various meats, and the white of the rice. Additionally, the sweet smell of the jasmine rice and the flavor of the oyster sauce made it a perfect dish full of color, scent, and flavor. Morri immediately ate two bowls and said that it was delicious. She also bought some additional bowls for her family.
That day lines were forming before I even finished cooking my rice. Since it was a student cafeteria, the price couldn’t be very high so they decided that they would sell my dish for $4.00 per bowl. After I was done cooking, Morri and another student helper scooped the rice into plastic bowls and passed them to students to teachers as Jane and I collected the cash. The ten pounds of rice were sold extremely quickly and by popular demand I cooked another batch, and similarly it was sold quickly.
Later, Jane did a bit of a cost/profit analysis and found that authentic Yangzhou Fried Rice may not be very profitable. Even though the main ingredients are not very expensive, a lot of man hours were put into chopping up and preparing the dish. Nevertheless, I brought the dish to the student cafeteria for one day, and Morri called me “chef” since then.
To be continued!
Related Articles at The Baglady:
In the previous chapter I mentioned that I really wanted to bring the authentic Yangzhou Fried Rice to the school cafeteria. The reason for this is that in America Yangzhou Fried Rice is a dish in almost every Chinese restaurant. I tasted a couple and it seems that none of them are authentic.
One day at work I told Morri that I am from Yangzhou and I knew how to make authentic “Yangzhou Fried Rice”. I said to her, “If you try my Yangzhou Fried Rice, then you would know how good the real Yangzhou Fried Rice is.”
Morri listened to what I said and sounded a bit doubtful, “Are you sure?” She said to me. I confidently told her that there is no doubt that I could make it. I asked her to agree to one term, which is that I get to pick the ingredients I want and she needs to get all the ingredients for me. Morri couldn’t agree to that so she brought the proposal to the head chef Craig. Craig is also a Hawaiian. He is sturdily built, not very tall, and sported a thick mustache. He spoke pidgin and was a graduate of a famous culinary academy in New York. He chose Kapiolani Community College after he graduated because the college has a very strong culinary program. Craig is not only the chef of the cafeteria but also did demonstrations for culinary students. When I was working there I often saw Craig work with a gaggle of students wearing chef hats and aprons. Craig and another professor named Kent often had a myriad of sauces and containers and did various lessons. At that time, I admired those classes quite a bit. I thought to myself, if I were 15 to 20 years younger, I should also major in cooking and maybe I could have gone back to China and opened a restaurant featuring western cuisine. Perhaps my restaurant could have been quite popular. Recently, I received an alumni magazine from the University of Hawaii and there was an article about the Chinese Ministry of Education visiting Kapiolani’s Culinary Arts department. The goal was to speak about educating more Chinese people in western cuisine.
Morri told Craig that I wanted to bring Yangzhou Fried Rice to the students and staff of Kapiolani. Craig is a person who is very open to new ideas and suggestions. He loves to cook food from different countries such as France, Italy, and Korea. One particular dish I thought was quite interesting was a Hawaiian dish called Laulau. Craig would take some ti leaf and wrap pork in it, and then the package is roasted until the pork is so cooked that it falls apart. After it is cooked the leaves would be removed and its aroma would flood the room. Honestly, I thought that it tasted pretty good, but the presentation was quite ghastly.
Craig heard that I want to make some Yangzhou fried rice and he agreed heartily. He told me to make a list of the ingredients and I thought about the things my neighbor taught me about Yangzhou Fried Rice.
Yangzhou Fried Rice is also called Yangzhou Egg Fried Rice, and legend has it that it is the favorite dish of Yang Su of the Sui Dynasty. It was called “Broken Gold Rice”. When the emperor of Sui was touring Yangzhou, he brought the dish to the city, and it was further enhanced by chefs of many generations. The Huaiyang cooking school has an emphasis on “seriousness in choosing ingredients, expertise and care in preparation, exactness in portion and color, and preservation of original taste and juices”. Eventually, Yangzhou fried rice became one of the most famous dishes of Huaiyang cuisine.
Authentic Yangzhou fried rice has the following main ingredients: Chinese rice and eggs from grass fed hens. Side ingredients include sea cucumber, grass fed chicken meat, Chinese sausage, scallop, fresh water shrimp, mushrooms, fresh cooked bamboo shoots, and snow peas. Additionally you would add diced green onions, salt, cooking wine, chicken broth, and vegetable oil.
At that time in Hawaii we didn’t have so many Chinese ingredients.So we used Thai jasmine rice and cooked it with a bit less water than usual. That makes the rice stiff and better for frying. We also didn’t have eggs from grass fed hens because all eggs in America were produced in large scale chicken farms and shipped in cartons. This worked just fine and I also added chicken meat, lean pork, shrimp, and snow peas.
To be continued!
Related Articles at The Baglady:
On this day I finished my classes at noon and ran to the student cafeteria as quickly as I could. When I stepped into the office, I looked for a director named Jane per the instructions of the advertisement. When I walked in, I saw a white woman a bit over 40 sitting behind a desk and staring at a computer screen.
I asked her, “Who is Jane?”
She looked up and checked me out from head to toe and said, “I am, do you have a question?”
I said, “I saw your advertisement for a student worker at the cafeteria. I am here for that job.”
She asked me, “Do you have any kitchen experience?”
At that time, I thought to myself, America really requires experience for everything. My readers might remember that when I went to Duke’s Lane to find a sales job my boss Peter’s first question to me was a “do you have sales experience?”. They don’t seem to realize that if everyone needs experience, then someone without experience must be given the chance to learn and gain experience. If no one without experience is given an opportunity, then everyone without experience will never gain experience.
However, America is just a society that forces you to gain work and social experience from contact with the world starting at a young age. It is commonly said that, “what you learn in school on books is rarely applied”. In America, we need to add a line and say, “you can never have too much experience when you try to find a job.”
When it comes to the kitchen, I actually have many years of experience. When the Cultural Revolution began, I was just eleven years old. My dad was jailed in a cow pen since he was accused as being a descendant of a landlord and later sent to the countryside to be “reeducated” and “recreated”. He was sent to the cafeteria as an accountant. I often went to that cafeteria and watched Chef Zhang cook. At that time there wasn’t that much great food to eat. However, my dad always tried to ask the chef to do the best he could. Chef Zhang supposedly was the stable boy for General He Long during World War II, and did not have a lot of education, and so he received a job in the reeducation camp as a chef. Later on, I don’t remember for what reason, he almost committed suicide and died, but my dad somehow saved him. This happened a very very long time ago.
After I finish writing about these fifteen years, I may write about the previous forty years and slowly tell these tales.
Anyway, I was familiar with a kitchen in a cafeteria because I encountered it at a young age. Truthfully, I really love the art of Chinese cuisine.
The reasons I love Chinese cuisine include the following:
First, “the people worship food as they worship the sky”. I really love to eat. When I was young, everything was rationed. We could only cook food differently to satisfy the four values of Chinese food: “color, scent, taste, and shape”.
Second, I had two neighbors who were experts in Chinese cooking. One was my dad’s old friend. After the Cultural Revolution, he researched the history of Chinese cooking and published many books. When I was teaching in the university he would always give me a free copy of his book whenever he publishes one. I would follow the ancient recipes he collected and cook the Weiyang style of Chinese cuisine. Another one of my cooking teachers is an experience chef. He grew up with me and went to a famous cooking school at the age of fourteen, and later served as a chef at the banquet halls of the Central government. Later on he went to Japan as a chef in a great restaurant. Every year he would come home for the Spring Festival and teach me a few techniques. Some of the famous dishes I have learned are ““, “Great Boiled Tofu Strings”, “Yangzhou Fried Rice”, and “General Crossing the Bridge”. Could you say that I have no cooking experience?
To be continued!
Related Articles at The Baglady:
When I meet students from China these days, most of them are financed by their families, and almost none of them work in restaurants now. Near my house there is a Chinese restaurant that I visit quite often. In the end of the last century I could still meet a few students from China working there, but lately there are no longer any Chinese students. Instead, all the workers are either Mexican or Chinese immigrants not here for school. When I think about this I think Chinese parents should learn from the Americans and let their children work in addition to going to school. My daughter started a blog a month after reading my blog. Her main goal is to educate her generation and popularize the idea of living beneath one’s means. In about two months she wrote about sixty blog posts and one particular post is titled, Those of you young people who can read English might as well head over and read her post.
She wrote about how she used different methods such as working at school, contracting, selling books, and entering sweepstakes to earn money. I am very glad that she inherited the Chinese traditions of diligence and frugality. At the same time she learned a lot from the Americans. For example, she donates a good amount of her income and volunteers. I thought to myself, when we were in Hawaii we experienced quite a bit from working in America, and the hardships of that time is quite worthwhile.
In January of 1993, I became a full time student at Kapiolani, so I no longer had time to work at . On my first day at school, I went to the library to borrow books and I passed by the student cafeteria. At the door of the cafeteria I saw a wanted ad that read, “The cafeteria needs three student workers to help the chefs prepare lunch. The pay is $6.75 per hour and lunch is free.”
When I saw this ad I was quite happy, because I figured that I can solve my problem of losing my job and spending money for tuition. This job has fairly flexible hours and I can work there for two hours after my morning classes and also get a free meal. I no longer needed to pack lunch, and this was awesome. Packing lunch may seem like a joke to modern day international students, but at that time I remember we would always spend three dollars to buy a 10 pound pack of chicken drumsticks. After we cook it with soy sauce, we would make chicken sandwiches with some bread and tomatoes. We ate like this for several years. After that, I didn’t want to touch chicken drumsticks anymore because I have eaten way too many of them.
brand cialis prices
Related Articles at The Baglady: