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The untold story of the Mississippi Delta Chinese

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 22, 2017

As part of a video series on Chinese food in America, Al Jazeera profiles the small population of Chinese-American families that have lived in the Mississippi Delta for more than 100 years.

There’s a rather unknown community of Chinese-Americans who’ve lived in the Mississippi Delta for more than a hundred years. They played an important role in the segregated South in the middle of the 20th century. Join us as we get a taste of Southern Chinese food and learn about the unique history of the Delta Chinese.

Originally coming to the area to pick cotton, many of the Chinese immigrants opened up grocery stores, mostly in the black communities in which they lived. One family owned two stores across the street from each other in the days of segregation: one for serving white customers and the other for serving black customers.

And, oh man, that Southern Chinese food looks absolutely delicious. This NPR story, The Legacy Of The Mississippi Delta Chinese, contains a little more information on the food.

But let’s get back to dinner. As the group gets busy chopping and sauteing in the kitchen, Gilroy heads outside and starts tossing fried rice in a gigantic wok nestled into a super-hot, custom burner stand.

He tosses in some cubed ham: “This is what makes it Southern fried rice!” he says.

Before long, an impressive feast is laid out before us: beef with cauliflower. Whole fish garnished with fried ginger. Spare ribs with carrots and potatoes. Roast pork with a honey-hoisin glaze, and much more. The flavors of their youth.