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Chinese-American Japan Korea Taiwan Travel Vietnam

My People

I think a lot about my identity as an Asian, though usually only when circumstances force me. Chinatown attacks on elderly Asian-Americans. Asian women shot for being too sexy. Even life in the Low Lands sometimes reminds me I am an Other. How would these experiences compare when traveling while Asian through Asia? Old School […]

Categories
Chinese-American Sexual harassment

Sexy

Long ago, when I was young and sexy, guys would come on to me by confessing that they had a thing for Asian women. These guys were never Asian themselves. They were mostly white. They did not come from communities of color. To them, Asian women were exotic, exciting and, yes, inscrutable. I would of […]

Categories
Chinese-American Los Angeles Travel

Los Angeles

When I tell people about our round-the-world itinerary, there are always oohs and aah’s for the far flung destinations like Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Gwangju, South Korea. Los Angeles doesn’t fit in that lineup. I was, after all, born and raised in the City of Angels. La La Land, Lotusville, Shaky Town, El Pueblo. […]

Categories
Chinese-American Food War

Have You Eaten Rice Today?

It’s a ubiquitous phrase you’ll hear all over Hong Kong, Taiwan, and whenever the Cantonese side of my family gets together. Have you eaten rice today? Of course, that’s not a real question. It’s a greeting couched like a question that requires no answer. Just like in the United States where how are you is […]

Categories
California Chinese-American Los Angeles Travel

Homeward Bound

Last month, I went home to California. It’s an odd word to use, home, given that I’ve lived in Amsterdam for 30 years. But what else can you call the place where you were grew up or your parents still live? Home is not so much a location as a spot on the space-time continuum. […]

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Amsterdam Chinese-American Food Los Angeles

Food Fight

There’s a hilarious scene in Portnoy’s Complaint in which Alexander Portnoy mulls over the mysteries of Chinese food. the Lord has lifted the ban on pork dishes for the obedient children of Israel [but] the eating of lobster Cantonese is considered by God (Whose mouthpiece on earth, in matters pertaining to food, is my Mom) […]

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About Karen Kao Amsterdam Chinese-American

Fork & Knife

The other day, I had a chat conversation about the word sommelier. One chat member had never heard it and went to look it up. Then the guy who introduced the term into the conversation confessed that he, too, had looked it up before using it in our chat. The subject of that chat was […]

Categories
Chinese language Chinese-American Family ghosts

Numbers Game

When I was a lawyer, people thought I was some sort of mathematical genius because I could read a profit and loss statement. That is to say, I could never calculate a discounted cash flow but I could act like I understood investment banker talk. Out here in the real world, however, most everyone is […]

Categories
California Chinese-American Los Angeles

Treasure

Whenever I go to Los Angeles, my Mom has a list of things for me to do. I’m not complaining. My brother’s list is much longer. This time my task is to clean out a bedroom closet. Not all of it, just a few designated eyesores. One of those items is a beauty case Grandma […]

Categories
Chinese-American Film

Crazy Rich Asians

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m into all things Asian: the food, the culture and above all its rich, varied, and violent history. Some of you may even have been fooled into thinking that I only care about high brow art and literature. Well, I’m here to burst that bubble. Last weekend, […]