Asian Writers Gave the Best Responses to the Chinese Food Poem the Internet Hated

Asian Writers Gave the Best Responses to the Chinese Food Poem the Internet Hated
Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

If Americans love Chinese food, then poetry that bashes Chinese food really doesn't stand a chance. 

After food writer Calvin Trillin's poem about Chinese food hit the internet, people have taken quite a bit of umbrage with it. Titled "Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?" the poem bemoans how hard it is for serious foodies to keep track of and differentiate between the increasing number of regional Chinese foods available. 

Source: Giphy

The poem opens with the following lines: 

Have they run out of provinces yet?
If they haven't, we've reason to fret.
Long ago, there was just Cantonese.
(Long ago, we were easy to please.)
But then food from Szechuan came our way,
Making Cantonese strictly passé.
Szechuanese was the song that we sung,
Though the ma po could burn through your tongue.
Then when Shanghainese got in the loop
We slurped dumplings whose insides were soup.
Then Hunan, the birth province of Mao,
Came along with its own style of chow.
So we thought we were finished, and then
A new province arrived: Fukien.

Source: Giphy

Aside from its truly basic meter and sing-songy, Dr. Seuss-like tone, there's obviously one big problem with the poem: Why can't a country of two billion people have several regions of food? 

It's OK though, because as the internet is wont to do, it did not let this go down without a clapback. 


A few Asian-American writers came out against the poem as well. 


After taking the poem to task online, three writers — Beth Nguyen, Karissa Chen and Celeste Ng — decided to pen their own ode to Chinese cuisine, from an Asian perspective. 

Trillin defended his poem in the Guardian, saying it is "making fun of the food-obsessed bourgeoisie." However, it's clear who had the last laugh — and the better poem. And hey, they're even looking to make an anthology! 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew Rodriguez is a Staff Writer at Mic. He is a queer Latino New Yorker who enjoys female rappers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Flannery O'Connor. He is a former editor at TheBody.com and he is working on a memoir.

MORE FROM

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."