Much of what has been written about Chinese American history has centered on large Chinese communities or "Chinatowns" in coastal cities like San Francisco and New York, but the agricultural heartland has also been of historical significance. After my talks in the South and East, I had several opportunities to share Southern Fried Rice with California audiences in San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Stockton as well as in the farming towns of Salinas and Hanford. My visit to these California cities showed me evidence of their strong connections to Chinese cultural values and customs.
In May, 2007, I had a wonderful chance to meet with Chinese Americans in California's agricultural heartland in Hanford, then Stockton, and finally in Salinas to speak about Southern Fried Rice.
People were very gracious and friendly everywhere and very interested in my story.
In Hanford, my host was Camille Wing, the sister-in-law of noted Chinoise cuisine restauranteur, Richard Wing. His world renown Imperial Dynasty restaurant, located in the heartland of California's agricultural region was not readily accessible but for years celebrities and world leaders dined there. I received a tour of China Alley, the remaining part of Hanford's Chinatown, which included a temple and the Imperial Dynasty, which was no longer operating.
The talk started on a bad note as we could not get the laptop connected correctly to the projector, and after a delay, I went ahead and managed to deliver a coherent talk to the patient audience without the benefit of visual images to illustrate the presentation.
Chinese Cultural Society of Stockton, Dave Wong's Restaurant 5/19/07
My mentor and supporter, author historian Sylvia Sun Minnick arranged for my lunch presentation in her hometown, Stockton. The audience gave me a warm reception and many shared common experiences with me after lunch.
Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Salinas Confucius Church 5/21/07
Salinas is also an important agricultural city but located closer to the Pacific coast than Hanford and Stockton which lie in the center of the state. En route, I was able to stop in Santa Cruz to visit my mentor and friend, the prominent scholar and professor emerita, Judy Yung and her husband, Eddie Fung who prepared a delicious lunch.
Prior to the talk, members of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance took me for dinner near the coast. The talk was held at the Salinas Confucius Church, which had a large community meeting room and adjoining kitchen.