It didn’t matter that most of these cuisines were already perfect and had no need to operate beyond their existing altitude (and that in many restaurants, beyond the capitols of taste, they didn’t). The point of these exercises in digestive manipulation was to promise the diner something more while delivering, on the plate, an experience at once less satisfying and more expensive than the original. In New York, places like Momofuku, Pok Pok, and Mission Chinese Food were at the vanguard of a new generation of supercharged “ethnic” restaurants. Their success did not, however, represent a victory for the subaltern, or some dramatic turning of the historical-culinary tables, but a recolonization—another way, ultimately, of pining for the past.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasm or a hideous dream.
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council, and the state of a man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.
“Even though I am tired the next day, I don’t want to sleep early,” she says. Gu loved late nights in her 20s, but has started to think about adopting more “normal” sleeping habits. Yet her friends are often also awake in the middle of the night. “I really need that time. I want to be healthy but they [her employers] stole my time. I want to steal back my time.”