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.
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.
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!