Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies, Vol 4 (2013)

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“vinegar soup improved his womb”: Food, Appetite, and the Redefining of Asian American Masculinity in Kingston’s China Men

Danielle Crawford


This paper examines the connection between food, appetite, and gender identity in Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men. Specifically, I argue that Kingston's use of food in China Men reconstructs traditional norms of masculinity. Food, appetite, consumption, and foodways are thus a crucial component in Kingston's larger project of redefining Chinese American masculinity. Drawing off of recent studies regarding the role of food and gender in Asian American literature, my analysis focuses on the characters Tang Ao, Kingston's father and the uncles from the New York laundry, Ah Goong, and Kingston's brother from the Vietnam War. These characters' consumption practices and various relationships with food work to redefine masculinity within the text.

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