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Los Angeles’ Recent Ban On Gas Stoves May Endanger Many Asian Restaurants

Photo: jpellgen/Flickr

In an effort to become carbon neutral by 2045, Los Angeles County’s City Council has just passed a motion banning most residential and commercial gas appliances. Statewide, many cities are also responding to climate change, hoping to meet the same goal. Our environment is shifting around us in unpredictable ways and these changes are impacting our way of life.

In LA’s food scene, one popular staple sure to be impacted by the new motion are Asian restaurants. Traditionally, Asian food is cooked using natural gas grills, woks and ovens. For example, in Cantonese cuisine, natural gas gives wok-cooked food their smokey flavor. That signature is called “wok hei” or “breath of the wok.” By comparison, electric woks can’t fully replicate the authentic characteristics of certain Asian dishes.

Electric grills and ovens similarly lack natural gas’ fiery panache. Natural gas is an integral part of Asian and other cultures’ cuisine, identity and heritage. Yet, climate change is a looming bully, indifferent to our cultural perspectives. It’s a challenging pill to swallow as restaurants will not only have to update their cooking appliances, but many cooking methods as well.

With the future of natural gas use uncertain in Los Angeles, let’s hope there’s some middle ground that allows restaurants to maintain traditions without negatively impacting the environment.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Apparently, Hollywood Thinks All Chinese Restaurants Look Like This

Ever watched a movie set in New York City that had a scene in a Chinese restaurant? Most of us have, and chances are it looked something like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Lots of dragons, paper lanterns, intricate woodwork, red wallpaper: The quintessential Chinese restaurant experience. The only problem? Those restaurants don’t exist. At least not in New York City.

That’s according to Nick Carr, a New York movie location scout who’s tired of directors demanding that he show them some “really over-the-top Chinese decor” for them to use while filming in Manhattan. Carr doesn’t dispute that there’s a ton of Chinese restaurants in New York City, but none of them look like what the directors are envisioning when they tell Carr to “be on the lookout for dragons. Golden dragons would be awesome.” Instead, the average Chinese eatery in Manhattan looks something like this:

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This makes a certain amount of sense; the abundance of Chinese restaurants in the area means that individual businesses focus on elevating the quality of their food to attract customers, rather than playing into stereotypes of  “orientalism on steroids” for revenue. Thanks to Hollywood’s refusal to see Chinese restaurants as anything but dragons and red wallpaper, however, “orientalism on steroids” is all we get to see.

H/T Scouting New York