Contemporary Foreign Languages Studies ›› 2023, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (4): 145-150.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-8921.2023.04.017

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I “Eat”; Therefore I “Am” :Food Narrative and Ethnic Identity in Everything I Never Told You

YAO Hongyan()   

  • Online:2023-08-28 Published:2023-09-28


Food not only nourishes one’s biological organism, but also constructs his social and cultural identity. It marks the group that an eater belongs to and defines the otherness of a different group; it makes the eater and the eater makes himself by eating. In Chinese American woman writer Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, foodways play an important role in constructing James’ ethnic identity. Due to the widespread discourse of the inferiority of Chinese foodways in mainstream American society, James tries to deny his ethnic identity by refusing Chinese food. However, when his efforts to integrate into the mainstream society go futile, and when he eats cha siu bau again, he finally realizes that ethnicity is an undeniable part of his identity. The interaction between James and the foodways not only shows the struggle and helplessness of Chinese Americans in the process of ethnic identity construction, but also exposes the operating mode of American hegemonic culture.

Key words: Everything I Never Told You, Foodways, Ethnicity, Identity

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