Saturday, December 31, 2005

Where Are You, Asian People???

Every time we go back to the Midwest, it seems more like an alien planet to us. This time, what I noticed was, where are all the Asian people???

The Missing Asian Population, or MAP, becomes especially apparent when you visit a place of business traditionally dominated by Asian employees here in California. Twice now I have gotten my nails done by a white, US-born woman about my own age. Certainly I have no preferances about the national origin of the person who files and paints my toenails. It's just different. Actually, the woman who did my nails this time mentioned that the women who work in low-end nail salons in Wisconsin are mostly Vietnamese, and she was surprised when I told her that in California, the high-end salons also employed mostly Asian and Russian manicurists.

Then, in the Detroit airport, I ate at a Japanese restaurant (bold choice, I know, but i played it safe and had California rolls w/ fake crab meat and some soba noodles). The woman who brought me my food, in fact every employee there except the sushi chef, was a white American.

I could philosophize for a while about what this means for national labor and immigration policy, but I don't want to get myself in trouble with my employer. Let's just say this: I can't wait to eat some Asian food over the weekend now that I'm back in Cali. Actually, I can't wait to eat practically any kind of California food after over a week of Wisconsin restaurants. That slur doesn't include the fabulous home-cooked meals we ate on our visit, the delightful steak my brother bought me on our first night there, or the amazing pate they make at Super Valu.


Kori said...

Super Valu makes pate? That's hilarious.

You're not going to believe this, but I'm about to blow your mind. My favorite new Asian restaurant find is not here in Chicago---it's in Kenosha. I know, catch your breath, don't faint in disbelief.

The next time you visit, you have to try Honada, the new Japanese restaurant out on Hwy 50 by Hwy H. It's fantastic. We brought friends out there last week who were visiting from California---Sara was one of my college roomies, and she and her new hubby (a Californian of Chinese descent) were visiting her family in Waukesha. When given the option of traditional Kenosha Italian food or "a Japanese restaurant in Kenosha," they took the chance. It was our fourth time there, and once again the food was fantastic---our friends gave it high praise, and they get good Asian food all the time.

And here's the craziest part---everyone on staff is Japanese. EVERYONE. You wouldn't believe you were in K-town, I swear.

Carrie said...

Thanks for the tip! That reminds me that I actually had an amazing culinary experience in Kenosha myself, and then forgot all about it. There is a Thai restaurant in the shopping center with Target on Hwy. 31 that is at least as good as any Thai food we get in the Bay Area. Also run by all Thai people. It is, however, quite expensive, which I thought was funny, since one thing I do appreciate about Kenosha cuisine, generally, is its cheapness.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, when I first came back to SF after living in DC for two years, my first thought was, where are all the Black people? And, my second thought was, wow, there are a lot of Asian people here! My Korean American friend from law school, who was also spending that summer in the bay area even said - damn, there are a lot of Asians here!

And now I'm living in the VA suburbs, which *looks* very white America to me...until I spot a noodle house! It's so funny, I'm always driving along thinking, gawd, this is so vanilla, and then I remember the huge Asian American population in the DC suburbs.