The University of Iowa

Not the Typical Kung Pao Chicken

September 19th, 2013

By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan

Before coming to the United States, I tasted many types of American food in China.

The main foods were steak, pizza, and salad. They were delicious but included Chinese ingredients.

When I decided to come to the United States, my mother was excited about what I was going to eat because she really likes American food.

My first destination was Los Angles, where my uncle lives. I had not seen my uncle, aunt, and cousins for about 10 years. I remember having a combination of feelings when I saw them again.

I spent seven days with them and they told me Iowa was famous for corn, so I was really excited to see what this so-called corn world looked like.

When I arrived here, I lived in the dorms and got lunch and dinner in the dining hall where I chose what I really wanted from the buffet.

In China, we order our dormitory food rather than choosing different kinds of food from a buffet. So American dormitory food is definitely more complex than Chinese.

But the type of food is limited because only American options are available. I think it is better to add more types of food to the buffet, because more international students are coming here.

Now, I’ve been here for three years and love everything about Iowa. But I am still on the journey to find different types of American food to eat.

Some people ask me what Chinese restaurants are like in the United States. Chinese restaurants are mostly opened by people from Southern China, which do not represent the whole country.

The dishes mainly contain the combination of sweet and salty flavors. To be more specific, the well-known Kung Pao Chicken is not the same as the one that we have in China. Here, it adds more American flavors and is less spicy.

With the upcoming harvest season in Iowa, people will begin to make their Thanksgiving plans. But for international students, turkey and stuffing are not the essential parts to our menu. Most of us would like to use this long holiday to relax from our high-pressure schoolwork.

I really wish I could enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with an American family. Up until now, I have not tasted any traditional American Thanksgiving foods or experienced a real Thanksgiving festival.

I really hope I could get the chance to taste turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. And of course a big slice of American apple pie for dessert.