Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"A warm, nostalgic book that belongs on the history shelf as a rich slice of Canadiana," says Edmonton Journal

A Feast of Food Books
Chow: From China to Canada: Memories of Food and Family by Janice Wong, Whitecap Books, 190 pp., $24.95

Chow is a fascinating combination of food and history: Chinese food, Chinese-in-Canada history.

Using recipes and a wealth of black-and-white snapshots, Wong draws an evocative portrait of her family as they journeyed from China to Canada and gradually became absorbed into the multicultural fabric of coastal B.C. and the Saskatchewan Prairies.

The history of her parents' life follows a circuitous path from Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo, and then to the long-gone Wing's Cafe, at 911 Central Ave., in Prince Albert, Sask., where customers lined up for a slice of raisin pie or Boston cream cake.

The Wong's sojourn is a familiar story among Chinese immigrants, and cafe food is the perfect vehicle for a historic look at a time and place we're only now, through the long lens of history, beginning to understand.

For example, although there were seven Chinese restaurants in Prince Albert in 1940, including Wing's, the Ohio, the Airways, the Central, the P.O., the Princess and one more, her mother was one of only two Chinese women living within the community until after the Second World War. Chow's recipes are part of this book's charm: Denny's butter tarts, Gertie's shortbread, Wong's chocolate chip cookies, ha gow, dow sa bow and peking doilies. Chow is a warm, nostalgic book that belongs on the history shelf as a rich slice of Canadiana. (Whitecap Books $24.95)

-Judy Schultz, Edmonton Journal, April 9, 2006

photograph Mary Mar and Dennis Wong, Vancouver 1940s

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