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Are you making a specialty food?

Chinese College Students

ppcarver Nov 25, 2009 07:47 PM

I am having 10-15 college students from China as dinner guests in a few days. I am pondering what to serve them and looking for suggestions? They have been here for a few days and have already had Italian and will have a Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.


  1. FoodFuser Dec 2, 2009 12:07 AM

    Sorry I missed this thread.

    To get back to the simplicity of the OP's query:

    I once had the pleasure of the rotating tutelage of a group of 6 Chinese students, spending a full year in the States. On my night of a "Feed at home seminar" I did a very spartan chili with beans and cornbread.

    On the seminar's printed agenda I placed a curious "Regionally specific cultural analogs" item.

    So, one hour after the chili beans cornbread, I called a break and went upstairs to bring down a rice cooker full of beautiful white rice, then opened a cabinet to present two woks, and gave a big grin as I reached deep in the refrigerator for the ground pork and cubed tofu and the other makin's for homestyle mabodofu. I pointed to the stove in a way to saying "this is yours to make."

    These kids went wild, quickly selecting two cooks. Steamed rice and mabodofu. They even enjoyed themselves so much that they asked for a recall of the leftovers from "my" comfort food of chili and cornbread. A nice touch on their part. Sealing the deal that the 2 menus are indeed culutral analogs.

    1. c oliver Nov 29, 2009 11:34 AM

      I think this thread represents just how good Chowhounds can be. There's so much experience here and everyone is willing to share. And I loved that story about the Chinese chefs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: c oliver
        vtnewbie Nov 30, 2009 11:54 AM

        Just to provoke discussion, but why trust the opinion of a group of Chinese chefs?

        1. re: vtnewbie
          yakitat jack Nov 30, 2009 09:15 PM

          Last spring I help feed 25 japanese students studying agriculture in the US. I belong to a dutch oven club and used our 12, 14, and 16 inch cast iron ovens to feed them. We made sourdough rolls, chili, corn bread, camp beans, beef ribs n' beer, dump cakes, potatoes, and other good fixin's. The kids loved it, they never saw any thing like this before. We were like Hollywood cebs, pictures taken, hands shaken, oow I must try this, sorry my english bad, clam chowder-I love, and the can I take a picture of yous. After it was all over, they helped clean our pots. One more group picture lots of waves, down the road went 25 very happy kids.

          1. re: vtnewbie
            Blueicus Dec 1, 2009 06:40 AM

            It's not a matter of trust (we're assuming what they say is what they feel about the food), it's a matter of understanding that cultural upbringing inevitably changes the perception of "foreign" foods, whether it is super high end or super low end.

        2. p
          ppcarver Nov 29, 2009 03:36 AM

          Thank everyone for all of the posts. This is my first time on this site, and I must say that it has been a fun experience to see everyone's reactions, thoughts and side conversations. You've been more helpful than I ever imagined. The dinner was a perfect success! They have been in the country for 10 days and most said that my food was the best. There were 12 Asian students and one instructor, all women. They ate more than I would have ever imagined. I have never seen so many little petite women, all under 120 lbs., put away so much food. What worked well was all the meat, they loved it! Some of the students followed my husband around, outside in the dark, to take pictures of him grilling. They held the flashlight as he cooked. It was hilarious. The soup, fresh fruit, baked beans and spinach were also great hits. They loved the apple pie, ice cream and strawberry short cake. They were not so fascinated by the green salad, potato salad, banana pudding and they were not big bread eaters.
          Lastly, thank you so much for the rice suggestion. The put heaping helpings on their plates and were very thankful to have it. It was a pleasure to see them so please to have something that reminded them of home; as I am so thankful for you sharing your thoughts and suggestions with me. Bless you all.

          29 Replies
          1. re: ppcarver
            monku Nov 29, 2009 06:28 AM

            Thanks for the full report, sounds like it was a huge success.
            Interesting about the potato salad, Japanese love potato salad, maybe it's the mayonnaise.

            1. re: monku
              Sam Fujisaka Nov 29, 2009 08:10 AM

              Yes, a wonderfull outcome. Sounds like a great event on all counts.

              monku, maybe it was the potatoes - Chinese and Japanese tastes are not the same.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                buttertart Nov 29, 2009 08:11 AM

                True, neither potatoes not mayonnaise is big in Chinese cuisine.

                1. re: buttertart
                  KTinNYC Nov 30, 2009 07:57 AM

                  As Americanized as my palate has become I still don't use very much mayonnaise.

            2. re: ppcarver
              buttertart Nov 29, 2009 08:10 AM

              That's wonderful, so glad it worked out. Not surprised the green salad wasn't a big hit - raw veg isn't commonly eaten, growing conditions can be a problem. And I only remember seeing mayonnaise used in one dish, the prawns with walnuts that was trendy in HK in the late 80's. But I am sure no one minded being exposed to these features of typical US fare!

              1. re: buttertart
                cimui Nov 29, 2009 01:56 PM

                This thread is awfully interesting and I suspect it points to the fact that like all cuisines and food cultures, Chinese cuisine and tastes are in flux.

                My impression is that mayonnaise is fairly popular these days, at least in Chinese cuisine's incarnations in Shanghai and Singapore and Taiwan (where there is maybe more Japanese, European and U.S. influence). Mayonnaise is on a lot of those corn or meat sung rolls you see at western fusion bakeries (rolls spread with thin layer of mayonnaise, sprinkled with sung or corn and baked) and I kept running into these really horrible mayonnaise-laden fruit salads all over Shanghai on my last visit despite my best efforts. Ji Shi (Jesse) had it, as well as places catering mostly to middle class locals. Yich! (If only mayonnaise were less popular so it could be confined to strictly regulated use in deli sandwiches.... :)

                Do you have any theories why, culturally, potatoes aren't big? I've seen a *lot* of potatoes and bought some absolutely delicious sweetish, creamy ones in Shanghai and Beijing local markets, but consistent with what you said, I very seldom saw potatoes in restaurants, unless it was in a curry-type fusion dish like ga-li ji or French fries. I'm wondering if potatoes are considered peasant food and therefore not well liked?

                1. re: cimui
                  monku Nov 29, 2009 02:04 PM

                  China is the worlds largest potato grower and consumer by volume. French fries are one of the reasons. Go figure.


                  1. re: monku
                    monku Nov 29, 2009 02:11 PM

                    Forget potato salad and mashed potatoes next time remember French fries and plain white rice on the menu.

                    1. re: monku
                      PorkButt Nov 29, 2009 10:22 PM

                      Junk article whose purpose is to refer to corporate businesses for the lay investor. If you're served potatoes at a Chinese factory's canteen, it will be as chunks in a braised/stewed dish or more commonly julienned strips of potato stir-fried until the "rawness is broken," still crunchy but not vegetal.

                      1. re: PorkButt
                        jadec Nov 30, 2009 06:43 AM

                        Interesting comments. One thing not mentioned is the region these students came from. Unless they are from a large cosmopolitan city they may not have had much exposure to other regional Chinese foods. Mayo is a contemporary, Southern Chinese/HK "invention". Potatoes are Northern or Western Chinese traditionally.

                    2. re: cimui
                      buttertart Nov 30, 2009 07:44 AM

                      It may be that potatoes were considered famine food for a good length of time after introduction - a food of last resort like the sweet potato The 1990s and following popularization of the french fry would obviously skew the numbers toward a high level of production and consumption simply because of the size of the population with access to same. The only things I've seen them in have been "borrowed" foods like curries and the few Sichuan/Hunan dishes of stirfried, almost raw strips (which may be part of the nostalgie de la Cultural Revolution food movement, I'm not sure of this though). Mayonnaise may be fashionable due to Japanese influence - some of it new, some of it left over from the occupation of Taiwan from 1895-1945 (one of my Taiwanese English students was convinced that sushi was a Taiwanese dish - she was born in the 60s).

                      1. re: buttertart
                        cimui Nov 30, 2009 10:21 AM

                        good and interesting theories, buttertart. you really do know a lot. i want to seek out that stirfried potato dish, since i don't think i've ever had potato prepared that way. (sounds almost like cooks were trying to replicate the taste and texture of water chestnuts.) does seem like during times of famine / near famine, you'd want to fully cook everything to get every last bit of nourishment from them unless you were also running low on fuel.

                        funny what you say about sushi. my mother also made it -- mostly futomaki and some chirashi, but never with raw fish -- for my siblings and i when we were kids. when the first japanese restaurant opened up in town in the 80s (along with a nearby Toyota plant), my sister and i were really surprised to see sushi on their menu, since we'd always just thought of it as just some weird dish our mom made up.

                        1. re: cimui
                          KaimukiMan Nov 30, 2009 12:05 PM

                          when i lived in Korea it was not uncommon for home cooks to julienne potato into small shoestring like pieces and pan fry them, but soft fried, unlike a french fry. This is more akin to how "mu" (turnip/daikon) is treated, except mu is more often served raw/pickled. I never saw the potato strips in a restaurant.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                            cimui Nov 30, 2009 03:49 PM

                            Interesting, KM. Are the julienned potatoes eaten plain or mixed in with other things?

                            1. re: cimui
                              E Eto Nov 30, 2009 04:10 PM

                              If you go to any of the sichuan counters at the food courts in Flushing, you'll see a steamtable pan full of this julienned potato dish for takeout. Or you'll find them on menus at some Sichuan places, as well as some Taiwanese restaurants (I recently ordered it at Andy's Seafood in Rego Park, Queens). The best rendition I've had recently was at Feng Mao Mutton Kabab in LA, the Korean place doing XingXiang style kababs. This version was bumped up with a lot of cilantro, watercress, some julienned carrots and some of the Korean chili powder, along with the requisite julienned green chilis.

                              1. re: E Eto
                                cimui Nov 30, 2009 06:41 PM

                                I've definitely had stirfries that included French fries or lightly fried potatoes, but not encountered those potatoes plain. That chili powder version sounds pretty awesome. I'll take a gander at those steam tables (which I usually avoid because of an anti-steamtable prejudice of mine, probably unfounded).

                              2. re: cimui
                                KaimukiMan Nov 30, 2009 05:39 PM

                                they were served as part of the ban-chan (various transliterations), the mix of vegetables served as sort of a side dish/condiment in a traditional Korean meal (seven flavors...., sweet, sour, etc). Kim Chee is the best known of these dishes.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                  cimui Nov 30, 2009 06:38 PM

                                  Right on. I don't remember ever having had these as part of a banchan, but I'll keep my eyes peeled. Thanks!

                            2. re: cimui
                              Cookiephage Dec 1, 2009 04:42 AM

                              My father was in the generation that was forced to labor in the countryside for years after high school. He and many in his generation have difficulty stomaching potatoes and sweet potatoes because that was pretty much all they ate.

                              However, he has begun to eat them again recently and we make stir-fried potatoes. It's one of my favorite dishes. Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes into thin strips (ours are almost julienned). We soak them briefly in water to wash off the starch, which will make them stick to the pan. First stir-fry some strips of meat with salt, garlic and ginger in vegetable oil, remove into separate dish when 80% done, and add the potatoes to the oil. When they are about cooked, add the meat back in and a small handful of green onions just before leaving the pan. It's very simple and really delicious.

                              1. re: Cookiephage
                                buttertart Dec 1, 2009 06:57 AM

                                Sweet potatoes were definitely famine food in Taiwan - the Taiwanese restaurants we went to in the 80's had di gua xi fan (sweet potato congee) on the menu, and we liked it - but when we told older friends who had lived through the war that we had tried it, they said they never wanted to see it again because of the bad memories it brought back.

                                1. re: buttertart
                                  Cookiephage Dec 2, 2009 03:34 AM

                                  Wow... digua xifan is an amazing comfort food... A thick porridge made with sticky rice and generous chunks of sweet potato is perfect for cold New England mornings. I know what I'm having this weekend!

                                2. re: Cookiephage
                                  cimui Dec 1, 2009 03:08 PM

                                  Yes, my father was of that generation, too, though he left the country. He always found yam pretty disgusting and thought I was a total weirdo for eating so much of it when I was following a vegetarian diet. What threw me off wrt potatoes, though, is that he would eat those happily. One of the only dishes he knew how to make when I was growing up was gali ji (curry chicken) with carrots, potatoes and onions, which he ate with a lot of enthusiasm. Occasionally, I'd also find bags of contraband potato chips in his briefcase, hidden away from my anti-junkfood mother.

                                  That stirfry dish sounds just like something my mom used to make. I like it a lot, too. :)

                                  1. re: cimui
                                    Cookiephage Dec 2, 2009 03:43 AM

                                    Looks like my father went on a potato farm and yours a sweet potato farm. I'm not sure if it would be worse to be sick of potatoes or sweet potatoes. I certainly couldn't choose!

                                    1. re: Cookiephage
                                      cimui Dec 2, 2009 08:44 AM

                                      =P Funny. I think I'd get over whatever aversion I had to potato chips pretty quickly.

                                3. re: cimui
                                  buttertart Dec 1, 2009 07:03 AM

                                  The shredded potato dish is on the menus of the Grand Sichuan restaurants in NYC. I'm not particularly crazy about it, tastes a bit too much of uncooked starch (husband, who is an irredeemable raw potato eater, likes it quite a bit).

                                  1. re: buttertart
                                    cimui Dec 1, 2009 03:11 PM

                                    Yeah, I suspect I won't like it much, either. (I tried raw potato for the first time after that thread on Chowhound extolled its virtues... not for me.) But I'm awfully, awfully curious.

                                    There's a Grand Sichuan a few blocks away from my new place, which I've been meaning to try. Thanks for that heads up!

                          2. re: ppcarver
                            soupkitten Nov 29, 2009 08:14 AM

                            how wonderful! congratulations on your success & welcome to the chowhound boards-- don't be a stranger!

                            1. re: ppcarver
                              cimui Nov 29, 2009 01:39 PM

                              Yes, what soupK said: Welcome and don't be a stranger. I'm glad it worked out so well and very much appreciate your lead on the artichoke tomato soup! Just in time for soup season, where I am.

                              >> I have never seen so many little petite women, all under 120 lbs., put away so much food.

                              =D Hilarious. We small folk have a second stomach when the food is extra good, I think.

                              1. re: ppcarver
                                buttertart Dec 1, 2009 07:07 AM

                                Just curious, were the students from all over China, or a specific region? Or was that discussed?

                              2. pikawicca Nov 28, 2009 05:26 PM

                                No cheese whatsoever. Keep other dairy in small quantities. If you can do meat fondue for this many people, I think it would work: Little pieces of beef (inside their comfort zone), combined with dipping sauces that are really different for them. I think that a panna cotta, served with fruit would be appreciated.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: pikawicca
                                  chandler212 Nov 28, 2009 05:51 PM

                                  Some cheese is fine. Pizza Hut pizza with cheese is trendy in big cities in China. Someone has to be eating it.

                                  1. re: chandler212
                                    cimui Nov 28, 2009 05:56 PM

                                    Agreed. I believe Fuchsia Dunlop's story about the Chinese chefs, but a lot of younger folks, today, do eat and enjoy cheese based on my observations. It is, like you said, considered sort of trendy and cool to do so and chains like Haagen Dazs (dairy ice cream), Pizza Hut and Papa John's Pizza are doing quite well in Shanghai, Beijing and many other cities. I don't know if I'd make them cheese fondue or anything like that, especially if the OP is going to be hanging out with the kids later in the evening ;), but a slice of cheese on a burger, for instance, would be absolutely fine, I think.

                                    I really do think ppcarver's menu sounds great and hope she/he had a great time with the students, tonight. I second KaimukiMan's sentiment: I'd love to hear about how it goes!

                                    1. re: chandler212
                                      pikawicca Nov 28, 2009 06:08 PM

                                      I don't know what's trendy in big cities in china, all I know is that about 99% of my ESL students from Asia find cheese totally disgusting. I keep bringing samples to class, but I get few converts.

                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                        KaimukiMan Nov 28, 2009 07:30 PM

                                        plain cheese served chilled or at room temperature is a very different thing than a oozy gooey mess melting into the meat and toppings. One i was not at all fond of until my teens (before that i liked neat food, no gravies, sauces, etc.) We will find out soon enough.

                                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                                          monku Nov 28, 2009 08:03 PM

                                          Melted or chilled, doesn't China have a high percentage of lactose intolerant people?

                                          1. re: monku
                                            Sarah Nov 28, 2009 08:36 PM

                                            Yes, and in the US, so I don't understand the urge to foist dairy products on these people.

                                            1. re: Sarah
                                              Sam Fujisaka Nov 29, 2009 03:10 AM

                                              I'm going to repeat my call for rice made upthread.

                                              I think the only real "foisting" would be with potatoes or bread in place of rice. Non-Asians often don't understand that bread and potatoes are simply not satisfying in the way that rice is for Asians. Someone above mentioned meatloaf and potatoes - OK but nowhere near as good as meatloaf and plain rice.

                                  2. p
                                    ppcarver Nov 27, 2009 06:32 PM

                                    They will be here tomorrow and I'm going to stick with my original menu. I just finished the artichoke tomato soup and it tastes great. The weather is going to be nice tomorrow so it will be easy and simple to throw some meat on the grill. We do a lot of grilling, no matter the weather; so we are sticking to our roots, as many of you have suggested.

                                    They'll have plenty of chances for breakfast food. In fact, they're having brunch at another professor's home on Sunday. I'm sure she'll have all the fixings.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: ppcarver
                                      cimui Nov 27, 2009 07:50 PM

                                      Your menu looks great, ppcarver. I'd be excited to have some of that artichoke tomato soup. Enjoy the company!

                                      1. re: cimui
                                        ppcarver Nov 28, 2009 07:44 AM

                                        The recipe is online. Look for Jack Fry's artichoke tomato soup. Jack Fry's is one of the nicer restaurants in our city. It's very good, even if there are a lot of calories in it.

                                      2. re: ppcarver
                                        buttertart Nov 28, 2009 06:05 AM

                                        Just saw this (have a considerable amount of experience in this line, husband teaches Asian history - specialty is Chinese - and there have been many such entertainments). Your menu sounds very appropriate. Just be sure the meat is well-done unless s/o expresses a strong preference otherwise, and do have rice for those who might want it.

                                        1. re: buttertart
                                          ppcarver Nov 28, 2009 07:48 AM

                                          Thank you so much! This makes me feel a lot more confident. I am adding rice to the menu.

                                        2. re: ppcarver
                                          KaimukiMan Nov 28, 2009 03:14 PM

                                          I'm sure it will be great, hope you share the outcome with us all.

                                        3. s
                                          soupkitten Nov 27, 2009 03:28 PM

                                          and now, for something completely different. . .

                                          lots of folks the world over are fascinated by the idea of "american breakfast", and unlike pizza and corporate-chian fast food, it's not generally something they can experience in a restaurant in their own country. a "real," hearty american breakfast is often better enjoyed as a lunch or dinner meal, because it's just too heavy to eat in the morning unless you're planning to dig fence posts all day, yet the concepts central to dim sum, and if you offer lots of small savory bites of hot foods and bakery items, i could see it being really popular and fun (and easier on the budget than meals for 20 persons based around expensive proteins and fresh veggies in winter).

                                          i suggest a buffet of breakfast foods: think pancakes/flapjacks, omelets filled with regional american cheeses and vegetables, crispy bacon, ham steaks, breakfast sausage, biscuits and gravy, grits, oatmeal and maple syrup, fruit syrups, egg/french toast, broiled grapefruit halves with honey, smoked fish, bagels, cream cheese, waffles, hash browns with cheese/chilis/bacon, eggs benedict, cinnamon rolls, savory egg scrambles, donuts, coffee cake, fruit crisps/crumbles/slumps, granola, quick breads/muffins, cocoa and coffee drinks, huevos rancheros, *insert your regional/ethnic breakfast specialty here,* bloody marys with beer backs. . .

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                            James Cristinian Nov 27, 2009 03:36 PM

                                            I'll second and third that suggestion. In Texas we would have to have some breakfast tacos for regional specialty.

                                            1. re: soupkitten
                                              cimui Nov 27, 2009 04:12 PM

                                              Great idea, soupkitten. I can't honestly think of anything more accessible.

                                              Agree with DallasDude and others who said to just serve something you'd normally eat. There's no need to avoid fried foods (there's a very strong tradition of fried foods in both high and 'low' Chinese cuisine), butter or cheese (most of my PROC and ROC friends and acquaintances like and eat butter and cheese). Steaks are also fine and popular.

                                              Other dishes I've found popular include corn pudding made with creamed corn, mousse / pudding, pies, fresh baked breads and biscuits, breaded fish fillets / fish sticks / popcorn shrimp, grilled fish or other seafood. Non-cooked vegetables (like green salads and slaws) have not been as popular. Either banana pudding or strawberry shortcake would be well received, I think.

                                              1. re: cimui
                                                Sinicle Nov 27, 2009 06:55 PM

                                                We had Chinese guests in Shanghai about 9 years ago and they also were negative about Western style raw vegetables and salad that were served at a Western buffet. Perhaps that is changed.

                                                1. re: Sinicle
                                                  cimui Nov 27, 2009 07:59 PM

                                                  I think leafy green salads and slaws are still pretty unusual, even in Shanghai. Partly, folks just don't trust washing to remove all the pesticides and bacteria that could be on the plants and partly, I think Chinese medicine considers uncooked fruits and vegetables too 'cold' to be healthy for the body.

                                                  1. re: cimui
                                                    512window Nov 28, 2009 01:18 PM

                                                    I had a similar experience with a group of Chinese who I hosted for business. They were at the end of a three week tour of the U.S. By the time I got them, all they really wanted was cooked vegetables. I never realized how often we serve our vegetables raw. The only cooked vegetable they had had in three weeks was corn on the cob.

                                                    1. re: 512window
                                                      raytamsgv Dec 1, 2009 02:37 PM

                                                      Historically, night soil (i.e. human waste) was often used to fertilize the fields. That's why the veggies were always cooked--killed the germs.

                                                      1. re: raytamsgv
                                                        cimui Dec 1, 2009 02:58 PM

                                                        Interesting tidbit, "night soil". And cooking the b'cheesus out of your veggies makes a lot of sense in that context!

                                                        1. re: raytamsgv
                                                          PorkButt Dec 1, 2009 04:16 PM

                                                          The use of manure as fertilizer is often cited as the reason for why raw vegetables are rare in Chinese cuisine, but there are historical writings dating back to ~200AD that describe creating fertilizer by composting manure which is a safe method - that's how the fertilizer is made for the organic produce at your grocery. Europeans also used a manure-based compost yet the consumption of raw herbs and vegetables dates back into antiquity.

                                                          Chinese philosophical writings from two thousand years ago describe eating raw food as a barbaric practice that the culture had elevated away from. As uncommon as raw vegetables are in the cuisine, has anyone seen a raw meat dish?

                                                          Much of the Chinese population lives in river delta regions where water is drawn from rivers or shallow wells that are not potable without boiling. So as a practical matter, it's not worth sanitizing water with relatively scarce fuel resouces just to wash vegetables and that creates a cultural bias. Europe on the other hand, has many regions where potable water can be drawn from mountainous aquifers and can be distributed widely through aqueducts.

                                                          1. re: PorkButt
                                                            alanbarnes Dec 1, 2009 04:38 PM

                                                            I may have mentioned this before, but during WWII my grandfather was an accidental guest of the people of Longzhou, which is on the Xi River in Guangxi Province, China. He'd been flying over Japanese-occupied territory when anti-aircraft fire knocked out a fuel line on his P-38, causing his tanks to run dry before he could return to base.

                                                            Anyhow, once he figured out he that he was in friendly territory, he asked for water. Apparently it's good manners there to assure your guests that water is safe by serving it boiling hot. My grandfather, of course, was unaware of this custom. You can fill in the rest of the slapstick routine yourself.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes
                                                              raytamsgv Dec 2, 2009 09:09 AM

                                                              That's funny in a bizarre way. It reminds me of something I once read or saw on TV. When they were building the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1800's, the Irish workers supposedly had many illnesses due to drinking contaminated water. The Chinese workers, however, supposedly preferred tea, so they didn't get sick nearly as much.

                                                              1. re: raytamsgv
                                                                buttertart Dec 2, 2009 10:41 AM

                                                                It makes perfect sense. We boiled all ingested water when we lived in Taiwan in the 80s and didn't have any digestive issues (respiratory - from the pollution and flu yes, digestive, no). Chinese for water is shui, boiled water, kai shui (kai means opened, I like to think of the bubbles of boiled water "opening" the water, my personal derivation of the term, accurate or no). You can have re kaishui (hot boiled water) or bing kaishui (cold boiled water) - but re kaishui is still considered the most healthful.

                                                2. re: soupkitten
                                                  monku Nov 27, 2009 04:54 PM

                                                  And if they had a breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes, etc...?

                                                3. j
                                                  James Cristinian Nov 27, 2009 02:58 PM

                                                  I would serve the best example of your regional cuisine, not something they can get at home. An example, my ex-wife and I visited her parents in Rochester, NY. They took us to ChiChi's Mexican Restaurant. Great, I'm from Houston, and the last thing I want is Mexican food from a Wisconsin chain in upstate New York. They were being nice and I appreciate it, but I wanted some good pizza. Fortunatey, they turned me on to some that was far better than I could get at home. When they came here, it was TexMex and great margaritas.

                                                  1. EWSflash Nov 27, 2009 05:55 AM

                                                    There was an article in Gourmet a while back, wherein some American chefs took out some visiting Chinese chefs for some of what they considered the best American cuisine, and I don't remember the whole article (which was just fascinating as a cultural piece). I wish I could remmeber more offhand, but the author said that in general the Chinese chefs were (for lack of a better term) grossed out by the huge quantities of rare meat served to them. I hope that article's online somewhere, it was quite an eye-opening twist on "you wouldn't believe what the Chines people expected me to eat" theme we've all heard here.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: EWSflash
                                                      ppcarver Nov 27, 2009 12:06 PM

                                                      lol! I would love to read that article if you come across it.

                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                        monku Nov 27, 2009 04:58 PM

                                                        Maybe chefs, but Lawry's The Prime Rib says in the early 2000's they said 33% of their customers were Asians. My Japanese American friends say when friends and relatives come from Japan, they're amazed how much meat you get and how inexpensive it is...they aren't grossed out, they can't get enough.

                                                        1. re: EWSflash
                                                          E Eto Nov 27, 2009 11:06 PM

                                                          It was an article by Fuchsia Dunlop, who brough three top Sichuan chefs to The French Laundry. These chefs were completely befuddled by the food, and found most of the meal unpalatable. Here's the link:

                                                          Hopefully, the OP will have a group more experienced with "western" foods.

                                                          1. re: E Eto
                                                            monku Nov 28, 2009 05:20 AM

                                                            Interesting article...definitely a case of "culture shock".
                                                            Reminded me of the old Wendy's commercial "Where's the beef?".

                                                            1. re: E Eto
                                                              EWSflash Nov 28, 2009 10:02 AM

                                                              Thank you for finding it, I'd never have dreamed I read it four years ago!

                                                              1. re: E Eto
                                                                KaimukiMan Nov 28, 2009 01:18 PM

                                                                wonderful article. reminds me so of being in Korea and being fed the choice piece of fish... the head, with the eye just waiting to be sucked out and savored.

                                                                how do you explain that you just can't eat food that is staring back at you?

                                                                1. re: E Eto
                                                                  Aromatherapy Nov 28, 2009 03:52 PM

                                                                  More thanks, that was a GREAT article.

                                                              2. f
                                                                FrankD Nov 27, 2009 01:12 AM

                                                                I have relatives in Asia. When they visit here, the last thing they want is Asian food; they get plenty of that at home. And believe it or not, there isn't a place in Asia that I've visited where there isn't a burger chain.

                                                                But, outside of Japan, what is rarely available is big hunks of beef. Pork - they eat everything but the squeal. Chicken - ditto. Seafood - they have an abundance (although I frankly think north-eastern lobster is miles above the Asian lobster in taste, though not in size). But beef - not so much.

                                                                So, I'd suggest a big honkin' prime rib roast, bone on, served with a good horseradish and/or horseradish sauce (they won't shy from anything hot, believe me), crisp roasted potatoes (they like different textures), mashed sweet potatoes or turnip, something green (brussel sprouts? don't think I ever saw those in Asia), and a good gravy.

                                                                And go with the strawberry shortcake - I rarely saw strawberries when visiting, whereas bananas or plantains were available everywhere.

                                                                And for an appetizer - while it's not American, I'd suggest an antipasto plate. Charcuterie is also not an Asian strong point, so some good salami, prosciutto, etc., with a nice crusty bread, and especially a variety of olives - an ingredient which I almost never saw anywhere in Asia - would be a nice change. (Note: at most Chinese banquets, the first course is soup, and the second course is a cold appetizer platter, which usually features such delicacies as thin sliced beef heart, shredded jellyfish, duck feet, etc.) If you decide to serve a soup, you might want to consider a chowder, but keep the servings small - you don't want them to be full before the beef arrives!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: FrankD
                                                                  buttertart Dec 1, 2009 07:05 AM

                                                                  Strawberries are definitely available in Jiangnan (the area around Shanghai and Suzhou) in the spring, and are wonderful, very fragrant.

                                                                2. DallasDude Nov 26, 2009 11:09 PM

                                                                  Holy crap. just serve them whatever ou would normally eat! Don't listen to this pap and feed these kids whatever ou eat, that is what they want. if they wanted Chinese food they would have stayed home.

                                                                  1. s
                                                                    slewfoot Nov 26, 2009 07:47 PM

                                                                    Simply serve them with Hoisin and some toasted sesame seeds.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: slewfoot
                                                                      hobbess Nov 26, 2009 10:51 PM

                                                                      Whatever you do, make sure to avoid butter and cheese.

                                                                    2. s
                                                                      Soup Nov 26, 2009 05:30 PM

                                                                      actually sounds like a fun challenge. What ever you do don't serve chinese food.

                                                                      I went to korea and the host family kept serving me american food (or the korean version of american food). Hated it. I wanted korean food.

                                                                      My suggestion would BBQ, Fried chicken, wings, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, nachos and beer.

                                                                      I think college kids all over the world love beer and bar food. Go with the bar food theme. You can throw a salad, or healthy sides with it and some fruit.

                                                                      1. Passadumkeg Nov 26, 2009 12:37 PM

                                                                        Try something Italian w/ pasta (which came from China); stay from a lot of potatoes, dried beans and heavy fried foods. I have an old student staying w/ us for Thanksgiving. His girlfriend is from Bejing. She is slow to warm up to heavy American food, but enjoys Italian pasta dishes. Stay away from Mexican food.

                                                                        24 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                          monku Nov 26, 2009 01:03 PM

                                                                          They already had Italian.

                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                            pdxgastro Nov 27, 2009 09:44 PM

                                                                            @Dum: Pasta was found at Pompeii, which was covered by Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD, centuries before Marco Polo went to China (if THAT'S who you THINK "brought pasta over" to Italy).

                                                                            1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                              Passadumkeg Nov 28, 2009 04:34 AM

                                                                              Early Chinese explorers founded Pompeii. Next you'll claim the Scicilians invented the tomato. :0}

                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                pdxgastro Nov 28, 2009 05:02 PM

                                                                                The tomato (and the potato) is from the New World . Thomas Jefferson introduced it to Italy.

                                                                                1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                  thew Nov 28, 2009 05:25 PM

                                                                                  both potatoes & tomatoes were in italy 2-300 years before thomas jefferson

                                                                                  1. re: thew
                                                                                    MMRuth Nov 28, 2009 05:26 PM

                                                                                    Indeed. Did Jefferson even go to Italy? I would have thought that the Spaniards would have introduced both the tomato and the potato to the Old World.

                                                                                  2. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                    monku Nov 28, 2009 05:29 PM

                                                                                    Maybe Thomas Jefferson introduced the tomato the America?

                                                                                    1. re: monku
                                                                                      MMRuth Nov 28, 2009 05:32 PM

                                                                                      I had thought that the tomato was indigenous to America.

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                        monku Nov 28, 2009 05:36 PM

                                                                                        Quick Googling it was indigenous to America but something about they thought it was a poisonous plant and it wasn't eaten. Somehow Thomas Jefferson's name get's into the story?

                                                                                        1. re: monku
                                                                                          MMRuth Nov 28, 2009 05:48 PM

                                                                                          Yes, I'm not sure about that. I gather that the tomato was considered poisonous in the U.S. until the 1820s, but I don't know what role Thomas Jefferson might have played, and I think he died in 1826.

                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                            monku Nov 28, 2009 06:41 PM

                                                                                            Google "Thomas Jefferson and tomatoes" and see what you find...maybe he was going to poison someone.

                                                                                    2. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                      Passadumkeg Nov 28, 2009 06:12 PM

                                                                                      I was joking. How did pasta originate in Italy? Maybe Marco Polo took it to China? I've read once that the Phoenicians brought the idea of pizza to the Ionian peninsula before the Romans were there.

                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                        alanbarnes Nov 28, 2009 06:20 PM

                                                                                        They brought it from their voyages across the Atlantic, where the Pequots were making flatbreads with tomato sauce in the area that's now New Haven.

                                                                                    3. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                      rds246 Nov 30, 2009 08:10 AM

                                                                                      I thought it was now generally accepted that noodles originated in Iran (or Persia/the Persian Empire)

                                                                                      1. re: rds246
                                                                                        KTinNYC Nov 30, 2009 08:26 AM

                                                                                        Last I heard China still had the claim of country of origin for the noodle. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/4...

                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                          thew Nov 30, 2009 08:48 AM

                                                                                          most likely noodles were independently discovered several times.

                                                                                          1. re: thew
                                                                                            KTinNYC Nov 30, 2009 08:55 AM

                                                                                            But they had to be invented some place first and so far the archeological record shows China to be the birthplace of noodles. Maybe there is new research to refute this but if there is I haven't see it.

                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                              thew Nov 30, 2009 09:40 AM

                                                                                              working from memory here as an old anthropology student, but i'm sure some googling could confirm or deny:

                                                                                              wheat flour seems to have been invented about 5000 years ago in the middle east. it would be hard to imagine that anyplace that discovered bread would not have discovered the noodle as well, as it is a much simpler process with the same ingredients

                                                                                              There were descriptions in arab journals of something the seems like noodles in southern italy some 2 or 300 years before marco polo went to china.

                                                                                              1. re: thew
                                                                                                KaimukiMan Nov 30, 2009 10:06 AM

                                                                                                yes, but marco polo, and his father and uncle before him were following well established trade routes that had been there for hundreds of years. marco polo was simply the first european to travel the whole way through asia to japan and back. millet, the grain found in the chinese noodles is thought to have been cultivated as far west as the black sea as early as 7000 years ago.

                                                                                                it's hard to imagine anyone having access to grain and not ending up with noodles if only by accident sometime in the intervening millennia.

                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                  KTinNYC Nov 30, 2009 10:18 AM

                                                                                                  I think wheat falls fairly late in the timeline of cutlivated foods. As KaimukiMan points out millet and barley are much older grains, IIR.

                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                    DallasDude Nov 30, 2009 12:51 PM

                                                                                                    The Chinese beat the Italians and Arabs by around two thousand years. In 2006, archaeologists excavating a 4,000 year-old settlement at Lajia in the Qinghai Province near the Tibetian border uncovered an overturned bowl of noodles about ten feet beneath the earth's surface. The strands of pasta were made of two types of millet, a crop known in China for about seven thousand years.

                                                                                                    Interesting to note that these pastas were considered treasure, and were actually inherited from departed family members. I guess it would be a few thousand years for Kraft Dinner to become an accessible and affordable supermarket favorite for the masses.

                                                                                                  2. re: thew
                                                                                                    Sam Fujisaka Nov 30, 2009 04:33 PM

                                                                                                    Yes, but the Chinese had been making noodles for hundreds of years before Marco Polo arrived.

                                                                                            2. re: rds246
                                                                                              Rmis32 Dec 1, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                                                              You guys are all wrong. I have noodles in my cupboard that appear to be from the Paleolithic era.

                                                                                              1. re: Rmis32
                                                                                                Sam Fujisaka Dec 1, 2009 02:07 PM

                                                                                                Hilarious! I like how you think.

                                                                                      2. KaimukiMan Nov 26, 2009 10:29 AM

                                                                                        Sam's post about plain white rice is spot on.

                                                                                        If it is too cold for barbecuing (which out here means dogs and burgers and teriyaki chicken) maybe you could do a new england boiled supper. Pot roast or corned beef, lots of root vegetables. A good hearty pot of stew is always good too.

                                                                                        My experience with Asian visitors is to allow less meat and more vegetables than you would normally for Americans.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                          DallasDude Nov 26, 2009 10:37 AM

                                                                                          Never too cold to bbq. I have smoked turkies in 3 feet of snow.

                                                                                          My suggestion is do nothing special. They did not come half way across the globe to have familiar tastes.

                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                            monku Nov 26, 2009 10:42 AM

                                                                                            I'm coming to your house for cook out you'd better be having chili & rice.

                                                                                            1. re: monku
                                                                                              KaimukiMan Nov 26, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                                                              hehe, give me warning. takes me two days to make chili the right way.

                                                                                              a ps to the OP: Just make your best /favorite "guess who's coming to dinner" meal.

                                                                                            2. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                              monku Nov 26, 2009 12:59 PM

                                                                                              "My experience with Asian visitors is to allow less meat and more vegetables than you would normally for Americans"

                                                                                              One of the most popular American restaurants in Beverly Hills Asian tourists want to go to is Lawry's The Prime Rib for that big hunk of meat.

                                                                                            3. p
                                                                                              ppcarver Nov 26, 2009 08:04 AM

                                                                                              Thanks to all the replys and suggestions. With fixing Thanksgiving dinner, I have not had a chance to look at the board. I like the idea of grilling burgers, hot dogs and chicken along with baked beans, spinach stew, potato salad, and fresh salad. What do you think of serving tomato artichoke soup along with this? For dessert apple pie, fresh fruit and strawberry shortcake... Hopefully, this will give them a variety. Now let's pray the weather is not too cold.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: ppcarver
                                                                                                Sam Fujisaka Nov 26, 2009 09:24 AM

                                                                                                Do what you suggest, but please add plain, steamed rice to the offerings. They will likely be missing rice by about now.

                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                  ppcarver Nov 26, 2009 11:04 AM

                                                                                                  Thanks so much for the advice. I'll be sure to have steamed rice. Maybe banana pudding instead of strawberry shortcake.

                                                                                                2. re: ppcarver
                                                                                                  lil magill Nov 28, 2009 02:05 PM

                                                                                                  what's wrong with meatloaf, mashed potatoes (w/ butter), peas and an apple pie? i had a friend who worked off-shore for up to 9 months at a time, and this was always his first meal 'home.' seems ultimately american to me, right down to the squiggle of catsup down the middle of the meat! or maybe real, homemade mac 'n cheese? good coleslaw? i like to make a hot bacon dressing and toss it with red leaf, toss on some chopped boiled egg, the crisp bacon and fresh homemade croutons. i also love to serve vinegar pie!!!!

                                                                                                  1. re: lil magill
                                                                                                    breakfastfan Nov 30, 2009 01:10 PM

                                                                                                    That was my first thought. Traditional comfort food. Any thing you feel is comfort food is the best choice, IMHO.

                                                                                                3. thew Nov 26, 2009 06:33 AM

                                                                                                  what would you have if they were chinese students?

                                                                                                  1. r
                                                                                                    ricepad Nov 25, 2009 10:10 PM

                                                                                                    We have a similar situation, in that at the ricepad pad we're hosting a high school exchange student from Eastern Europe. We're trying to give her the full range of the 'typical American experience", foodwise. Our culinary spectrum is pretty broad at home (we channel China, Japan, and Germany, plus down-home American), so some of the meals are familiar to her, while others are "what in the world is THAT?" The meals that work best for us, tho, seem to be those that we take for granted.

                                                                                                    Having said that, I think you're trying too hard...if you relax and just think about what you might normally cook during a typical week, I'm sure you'd come up with more than a couple menu ideas. Fried chicken and BBQ were already suggested and are great ideas, but you could also make meat loaf w/ mashed potatoes or beef stew or posole or even a good old casserole. It's winter, so make use of root vegetables.

                                                                                                    My point is this: don't overreach, think 'simple' instead. The answer is probably so much in your grasp that you're looking past it.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                      monku Nov 25, 2009 11:10 PM

                                                                                                      "something that will give them an american experience"

                                                                                                      BBQ....steaks, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, chips & dips, chili, grilled vegetables, pickles, Budweisers, etc...
                                                                                                      They can cook their own food on the grill. Eat off of paper plates with plastic ware..it's relaxing, fun and I'm sure they won't get that "experience" anywhere else.

                                                                                                      What's more American than a BBQ on Memorial Day, 4th of July or Labor Day...that's what we do in America.

                                                                                                      1. re: monku
                                                                                                        ricepad Nov 26, 2009 06:09 AM

                                                                                                        Yeah, that's the kind of thing I had in mind...except it's winter now. (And I don't consider steaks, burgers, or dogs to be BBQ....) Chili is an exceptionally good idea, tho!

                                                                                                        1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                          monku Nov 26, 2009 06:48 AM

                                                                                                          You know I'm talking about "a BBQ" and grilling meats on a BBQ, not the activity of "smoking" meats.

                                                                                                          What do you say to friends, "why don't you come over for some grilling" ?

                                                                                                          1. re: monku
                                                                                                            ricepad Nov 26, 2009 09:26 AM

                                                                                                            When I BBQ, I'm talking about low and slow with a wood fire. If I'm just throwing some burgers or dogs on the grill, I'll tell friends, "Why don't you come over and we'll throw some burgers or dogs on the grill." You may think of many different types of outdoor cooking as BBQ, but I don't...it's just a difference of how we parse things.

                                                                                                    2. pdxgastro Nov 25, 2009 09:31 PM

                                                                                                      How about Mexican?

                                                                                                      1. Cherylptw Nov 25, 2009 09:17 PM

                                                                                                        I'm referring to making the chicken yourself, not from a chain....

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                                                          monku Nov 25, 2009 09:23 PM

                                                                                                          I wasn't suggesting take out...they may think KFC is the best and anything else is meh.

                                                                                                          1. re: monku
                                                                                                            monku Nov 25, 2009 09:26 PM

                                                                                                            ....Like the traditional Chinese food they were served by the host family.

                                                                                                            1. re: monku
                                                                                                              Cherylptw Nov 25, 2009 09:34 PM

                                                                                                              I wasn't implying you were saying they should have take out; I wanted to clarify that home cooked would be better....

                                                                                                              1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                                                                monku Nov 25, 2009 09:39 PM

                                                                                                                Sounded like that traditional Chinese food they were served was home cooked too.

                                                                                                        2. Cherylptw Nov 25, 2009 08:23 PM

                                                                                                          I agree with the BBQ but then, I'm biased as I'm live in NC and that's what we do...but Fried chicken (with mashed potatoes n gravy, something green, biscuits & honey butter) and apple pie with a scoop of ice cream for dessert is also standard American

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                                                            monku Nov 25, 2009 08:30 PM

                                                                                                            Kentucky Fried Chicken is the most popular western food in China...I think they surpass McDonalds.

                                                                                                            1. re: monku
                                                                                                              monku Nov 25, 2009 08:34 PM

                                                                                                              Yum Brands has something like 2,500 KFC's and Pizza Hut's compared to 900 McDonalds in China.

                                                                                                              1. re: monku
                                                                                                                ricepad Nov 25, 2009 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                What better way to show them that KFC is pretty pedestrian (to be generous) than to feed them truly outstanding fried chicken? I get your point, but look at it this way: Panda Express is pretty popular in the US for "Chinese" food! Look at the parallels you could draw: Panda Express = crappy Chinese just as KFC = crappy American.

                                                                                                                1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                                  monku Nov 25, 2009 10:24 PM

                                                                                                                  Not sure- that fried chicken, mashed potatoes n gravy, something green idea sure sounds close to being something like a Thanksgiving dinner....just a smaller bird.

                                                                                                            2. monku Nov 25, 2009 08:09 PM

                                                                                                              What could be more than American than a BBQ?

                                                                                                              1. Cherylptw Nov 25, 2009 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                Are you wanting to serve traditional Chinese or do something else?

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                                                                  ppcarver Nov 25, 2009 08:17 PM

                                                                                                                  It is my understanding that a host family tried serving traditional chinese food and it did not go over well. With this in mind, I would prefer to serve something that will give them an american experience. My concern is that what may appeal to them may be different from what typical U.S. college students would enjoy.

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