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中餐馆里的秘密中文菜单  

2009-08-18 14:32:46|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Jason Kuznicki on Aug 12th 2009

(Attention Tyler Cowen…)

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I love Chinese food. I always have. And I mean the authentic dishes, not the made-for-Americans glop that they try to fob off on us.

我很喜欢中餐。我总是去吃中餐。我是指货真价实的中国菜,不是那种专门给美国人做的难吃的东西,那些东西是用来哄骗我们。

So why is it that these superior dishes are always hidden away on a secret, Chinese-only menu? I recently went to Chinatown Express, my favorite local restaurant, with a group of friends, including one from Taiwan.

那么为什么那些好菜总是被藏在一份秘密的,专为中国人准备的菜单里?最近和一些朋友一同光顾了Chinatown Express,那是我在华盛顿最喜欢的餐馆,同行的还有一位台湾朋友。

Naturally, he ordered in Chinese, and he received a dish I’d never seen at that restaurant before. (I hadn’t even known that they had a secret Chinese menu.) It was a plate of crispy fried egg noodles with mixed seafood and vegetables in a clear, Cantonese-style sauce.

It was delicious. And, naturally, it wasn’t on the American menu.

很自然地,他用中文点菜了,然后他吃到了一道我从来没有在那家餐馆看到过的菜。(我以前都不知道这家餐馆有一张秘密的中文菜单。)那是一盘油炸鸡蛋面,配上几种海鲜和蔬菜,淋上一种清爽的广式酱汁。很好吃。并且,这道菜不在给美国人的菜单上。

I’ve even gotten the same treatment at a dim sum restaurant, which is harder to pull off. After all, we could see and smell dozens of wonderful plates of marinated tofu skins, salted pork ears, tiny whole squid, and other forbidden delights… as they passed by on their way to nearby Chinese patrons.

我在一家点心店里也有过类似遭遇,不过这家店比较难成功做到有秘密菜单而不被发现。毕竟当点心车经过我们桌送菜给附近的中国客人的时候,我们就能看到、闻到很多菜的味道,像是腌制的豆腐皮,咸猪耳朵,整只的小乌贼,以及其他除了中国人以外都点不了的美味。

They had a different dim sum cart for the white folks. If it had been a soul food restaurant, we’d have had grounds for a lawsuit.

他们给白人准备的点心车是不一样的。如果这时家做美国黑人传统食品的餐馆,我们能因为区别对待客人告他们。

Here are my questions:

这么一来我有几个问题:

1.    Do any other types of ethnic restaurants routinely hide the good stuff?

还有没有其他具有民族特色的餐馆总是把好东西藏起来?

2.    Do Chinese places realize that at least some white diners would eat there more often if they had access to more variety and authenticity?

中餐馆有没有意识到如果白人食客能吃到更多种菜,能在更诚信透明的环境里吃饭,他们会来得更勤?

3.    As it is, I go to Chinatown Express so often that they recognize me immediately when I walk in the door. I’m proficient with chopsticks, and I obey the basics of Chinese table manners. What else does it take, people???

其实我总是Chinatown Express,我进店门的时候他们都能立刻认出我。我很会用筷子,而且也遵守基本的中国餐座礼仪。还要我怎么改进呢?

To be further Cowenesque, here are some theories:

为了进一步解释,有如下理论:

1.    Path dependence (a): Americans have some very set though inaccurate ideas about what “Chinese food” really is. They will generally balk at anything else. More people will break this way, and avoid the restaurants, than will break my way, and go to them more often, if they are offered something new and different.

定律(a):美国人中有一个群体对“中国菜”到底是什么理解不当。他们不愿意尝试其他的事物。如果中餐馆在菜式方面改变、创新,更多的人会改变他们去中餐馆的习惯,不再光顾,而不是像我这样,改变自己的行事方式,反而去得更勤。

2.    Path dependence (b): Setting up a restaurant is a ton of work. Someone or some entity tells Chinese restaurants what they must to sell to appeal to Americans, and all the restaurants are following the same bad advice. The agent(s) to blame aren’t as subject to market forces because Chinese immigrants have fewer contacts than most others in America. If this seems speculative, consider how few different brands of chopsticks you’ve seen at Chinese restaurants, from the fabulous ones to the truly wretched. There aren’t that many.

定律(b):建一个餐馆是个大工程。一些人或者团体告诉中餐馆什么菜合美国人的口味,所有的餐馆都按照这个坏建议来做。这些该被谴责的机构并不是根据市场力量给出建议,因为比起其他人来说,中国移民与美国人交流更少。如果这看上去比较像是主观臆断,那么就想想你在各家良莠不齐的中餐馆里看到过多少不同品牌的筷子?其实筷子的品牌就那么几个。

3.    I hate to bring up the obvious, but… chauvinism. Chinese people have certain ideas about Americans, including that our culinary tastes are incredibly narrow. Obviously, this may be partially true, given (1) above.

我不想提出这么显而易见的……沙文主义1。中国人对美国人有成见,包括我们能接受的口味就那么几种。显然,这种观点可能部分准确,就像第一条里所说。

4.    The high costs of offering so many different dishes. I’m skeptical of this one, because Chinese people are usually offered the Chinese menu, if there is one, while Americans get the American menu. The costs of being able to prepare the dishes are in place either way.

供应很多种不同的菜式成本很高。我怀疑这条定律的准确性,因为中国人总是用中文菜单点菜(如果有中文菜单的话),而美国人用给美国人的菜单。准备很多种不同的菜单的高成本无论如何都是存在的。

 

译者注:

1.沙文主义:原指极端的、不合理的、过分的爱国主义(因此也是一种民族主义)。如今的含义也囊括其他领域,主要指盲目热爱自己所处的团体,并经常对其他团体怀有恶意与仇恨。

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