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Not Too Real: Karen Tam and the New Chinoiserie by French Clements

Added on by Shona Masarin.

Although Karen Tam says her work draws upon an imaginary China, she's practically lived there too, growing up above her parents' Chinese restaurant in Montreal. She completed schoolwork in the restaurant's back room as her father prepared a variety of food-chicken balls, egg rolls, chop suey-rarely eaten in the family's apartment. Generations of previous Chinese immigrants to the West had fine-tuned these hybrid recipes, guaranteed to be more popular than the original. Tam recalls a friend in Canada who opened a pure Szechuan restaurant, only to fold soon after for lack of business. She jokes, "It was too real!"

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