OHMA EXHIBITS: a collection of interactive oral history encounters

Wok the Talk: Delicious Dialogues on Chinese Cuisine in NYC (2023)

By Yu Cui

Join "Wok the Talk" podcast for insightful conversations with local community members, as we explore the vibrant history and culture of Chinese cuisine in NYC. Satisfy your cravings with each episode, featuring one of eight types of Chinese eats. Perfect for foodies and culture enthusiasts, this podcast is the ultimate guide to transcultural dining in the city. Subscribe now for an immersive journey through the city's diverse culinary landscape!

As part of this exhibit, Yu Cui hosted a launch event - LU-CIOUS: Where Taste Buds Tingle and Stories Sizzle. While this event was by invitation only, please do not hesitate to contact Yu (cy2680@columbia.edu) to learn more about his podcast.

After repeatedly answering "I'm from China," I realized that my response could be more specific - and the ensuing conversation would be lengthy. So why not have it over a meal?

I was born in Dalian, a coastal city in Northeast China that serves as both a gateway to dialogue between China and Northeast Asia and a destination for the "Chuang Guandong" immigration wave that swept through modern Chinese history. As such, my upbringing was shaped by Korean, Japanese, and Lu cuisine. Originating in China's Shandong Province, Lu cuisine grew out of one of the most ancient human spaces in East Asia, the birthplace of Confucianism. It is the oldest of the eight major Chinese cuisines, dating back to 770 BC-476 BC.

My own personality mirrors this  Northern cuisine: my extroverted personality and its bold flavors, my migratory habits and its hybrid tastes. Oral history interviews not only reveal previously unknown outside worlds but also bring to light previously unnoticed inside voices. This is the underlying reason for my founding of "Wok the Talk" - by learning about food, we will learn about people. Before it officially launched, I invited guests to join me in understanding why I am undertaking this endeavor in the first place. I hosted my guests at a Lu cuisine restaurant in NYC and for a curated meal and conversation. By bringing our imagined dining table to reality, we savored both the delicacy and the culture. 

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