Verizon, Labor Unions Reach Tentative Deal To End Weeks-Long Strike

A Verizon worker on strike marches with his children and fellow employees on May 19. With no new contract, workers' health insurance expired at the end of April.

A Verizon worker on strike marches with his children and fellow employees on May 19. With no new contract, workers’ health insurance expired at the end of April. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Verizon and two labor unions representing some 40,000 workers have reached a tentative agreement to end a strike that has lasted more than six weeks.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced the deal today in a statement, saying, “The parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon’s workers, unions, and management.”

Perez, who is rumored to be on Hillary Clinton’s short list of potential running mates, said both sides now have to put the agreement in writing and submit it to union members for ratification.

“I expect that workers will be back on the job next week,” Perez said.

The strike began April 13. Most of the employees involved are part of the telcom company’s landline business and are members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The workers have been without a contract since August.

One sticking point — Verizon was looking to trim retirement and healthcare benefits. Without a contract, workers’ health coverage expired at the end of April.

As the Two-Way has reported, other points of contention from the unions include “offshoring of jobs, increasing use of contract workers and Verizon’s request for the ability to give workers two-month assignments that would require relocating — what the unions call ‘family-busting transfers.’ “

The terms of the tentative deal haven’t yet been disclosed.

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Working Horses Can Now Breathe A Whinny Of Relief

A horse and mules thresh wheat in Spain. The World Organisation for Animal Health has adopted the first set of global standards to ensure equine welfare.

A horse and mules thresh wheat in Spain. The World Organisation for Animal Health has adopted the first set of global standards to ensure equine welfare. De Agostini/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption De Agostini/Getty Images

It’s been a week of global powwows: the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the G-7 Summit in Ise-Shima, Japan, and the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly in Geneva.

But if you happen to be a horse, there was really only one gathering that mattered: The annual general session in Paris of the World Organisation for Animal Health (or OIE as the body is known by its French initials).

Before we get to the stakes for equines, it’s worth noting that this year’s OIE get-together – which concluded Friday – was just as focused on the homo sapiens among us.

To find out more we spoke with veterinary doctor and OIE Deputy Director General Brian Evans.

What is the OIE?

A member organization of 180 countries, founded in 1924 and dedicated to protecting public health by watching over animals. “You can’t produce safe food from unhealthy animals,” says Evans, and many animal diseases can cross over to humans.

How does the OIE carry out this mission?

Mainly by setting safety standards on an incredibly long list of issues around animals: how to safely raise, slaughter and transport all manner of livestock; how to keep wild animals from spreading diseases; and how to respond to animal disease outbreaks — hoof-and-mouth disease is a classic one.

The standards are largely voluntary but can make a big difference: Over the last decade they helped the world eliminate a disease called Rinderpest that once killed cattle across Africa, Asia and Europe. “It’s only the second disease in the history of mankind, after smallpox, to be completely eradicated,” notes Evans.

Just as crucially, he says, the OIE acts as an early warning system — alerting other health agencies to emerging “zoonotic diseases” — diseases with the potential to jump from animals to humans. Ebola, SARS, Middle East Respiratory Disease, avian flu, Zika and HIV/AIDS are all examples.

How big of a threat are zoonotic diseases?

Evans recalls that back when he was in veterinary school, students were told they could expect a new disease to emerge about once every 15 years. Today, he says, a completely new or hitherto obscure disease crops up “on average every six to eight months.”

What’s an example of a current worry?

Evans points to Rift Valley Fever, an often deadly disease that affects both domestic animals and humans. “It’s currently indigenous to Africa. But it’s capable of being spread by various insects.” Climate change is expanding the areas where these particular insects can thrive. And that spells danger.

“In the same way that Ebola moved out of rural Africa to urban Africa and then from there posed a risk to the rest of the world, Rift Valley Fever is not far behind.”

What other factors are behind all these new zoonotic diseases ?

Globalization and the resulting surge in movement of people and goods across borders is a big one. But at the top of Evans’ list is the clearing of forests and other wild land for human use. It’s forcing insects, birds, and other disease-carrying animals such as bats to change their migratory patterns. This brings them — and the viruses and bacteria they carry — in contact with both each other and humans, creating opportunities for the creation of wholly new diseases. “You know, viruses are promiscuous. They like to breed with each other,” says Evans. “So the disease we should be anticipating is the one we haven’t even recognized yet. That’s what keeps me awake at night.”

What is the OIE doing to protect us from this?

A key focus is trying to get governments to take the threat more seriously.

Unfortunately, says Evans, to the extent that governments have mobilized resources to deal with zoonotic diseases they’ve focused almost entirely on improving the health response for humans: making sure there are enough doctors, vaccines, and treatments. There’s been comparatively little investment on the animal health side — for instance in animal vaccines or networks of veterinary professionals and labs that could investigate diseases while they’re still confined to the animal population. Evans says this just amounts to addressing the consequences of an outbreak. “You’re not preventing the outbreak from happening in the first place.”

So how do you get governments to pay more attention to the animal side of the problem?

OIE officials think one answer will be to appeal to economic interests — pointing up the high cost of animal disease outbreaks. The agency commissioned a study for this year’s gathering looking at the economic impact of animal diseases on its 180 member nations. The principal finding: “The sort of economic data that would be necessary to do good cost-benefit comparisons simply doesn’t exist.”

What were the other hot topics at this year’s Paris meeting?

Evans points to three:

  • The challenge posed by overuse of anti-microbial drugs, which is fueling the rise of resistant strains. The OIE has been establishing a global database to track the use of these drugs in animals so that problem areas can be identified. It’s also helping countries come up with national action plans, including model laws and regulations.
  • Then there’s rabies. Right now as many as 70,000 people worldwide die each year from rabies — in almost all cases contracted as a result of a dog bite. The OIE is helping to lead a global campaign to end all such deaths by 2030 by stepping up vaccinations and other forms of prevention.
  • And finally, says Evans, this was a huge year for working horses. The OIE adopted the first set of global standards for ensuring their welfare. Topics covered include: What are the signs that a working horse is feeling stress or pain? How much water and rest should you give it? How long can a mare continue working while pregnant?

Why so much love for working horses?

It’s actually part of a wider mandate. In the early 2000s — in response to growing international interest in animal rights — the U.N. tasked the OIE with coming up with standards covering not just the health of working animals but their welfare.

“Since then,” says Evans, “we’ve been going species by species, looking at best practices, consulting with animal behavior scientists and animal welfare groups.”

As a blog named “Goats and Soda” we feel obliged to ask: What about standards for goats!?

They’re in the works, Evans promises. “But they’re not ready for prime-time yet. I’d say we’re looking at a 3-to-5 year window.”

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'Near-Normal' Atlantic Hurricane Forecast Could Mean More Storms

Hurricane Joaquin seen in a satellite image on Oct. 1, 2015.

Hurricane Joaquin seen in a satellite image on Oct. 1, 2015. NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center hide caption

toggle caption NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be “near-normal,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. The season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

“In the Atlantic, the season will likely produce a range of from 10 to 16 tropical storms. Four to eight of those are expected to become hurricanes,” says NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan. There could be one to four major hurricanes — Category 3 or higher and with winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

GRAPHIC: Here are the possible names for Atlantic tropical cyclones this year #HurricaneSeason pic.twitter.com/z3gyWpDup0

— NOAA (@NOAA) May 27, 2016

“Near-normal” in this case actually means there might be more activity than there has been over the past three years, which NOAA describes as “below normal.”

For the central Pacific, forecasts have predicted four to seven tropical cyclones, the NOAA statement says. Six to 11 hurricanes are likely in the eastern Pacific, including three to six major hurricanes.

NOAA says this year is particularly difficult to predict because of uncertainty about “climate signals” that impact how storms develop. The administration is upgrading its tracking technology, though. Earlier this month, it unveiled a shift to 4-D models with its U.S. Global Forecast System.

US National Weather Service YouTube

As Engadget explained, “The agency has added ‘time’ as a fourth dimension to its weather and climate model, allowing GFS to make hourly forecasts for up to five days out.” Previously, forecasts came every three hours.

Later this year, NOAA says, the system will also be able to display satellite images of weather patterns “as frequently as every 30 seconds.”

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23 Athletes Test Positive After Samples From London Olympics Rechecked

A British police officer walks in front the Olympic rings logo in Coventry, England, in July 2012.

A British police officer walks in front the Olympic rings logo in Coventry, England, in July 2012. Hussein Malla/AP hide caption

toggle caption Hussein Malla/AP

Nearly two dozen athletes from six countries and in five sports who competed in the 2012 London Olympics have tested positive for banned substances after doping samples were rechecked.

The International Olympic Committee made the announcement today, stating that it had retested 265 samples. The news follows revelations last week that samples from 31 athletes in the 2008 Beijing Games had suspicious results out of 454 retests.

“All athletes found to have infringed the anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the IOC said in a statement.

Why are learning about this now? The IOC says its scientists have better testing techniques now than were available during the past two summer Olympics. So they’ve been going back and reanalyzing hundreds of samples collected during those prior games.

“These reanalyses show, once again, our determination in the fight against doping,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in the statement. The IOC says it’s especially been focusing on athletes who might compete in Rio. “We want to keep the dopers away from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.”

Last week, Russian state media announced that 14 of the 31 athletes the IOC suspects of doping at the Beijing Games were from Russia.

That’s the latest development in a scandal involving accusations of a massive state-sponsored doping operation in the country. The former head of the Russian anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, disclosed details about “one of the most elaborate — and successful — doping ploys in sports history” in a New York Times story published earlier this month. Russian anti-doping experts allegedly worked hand in hand with members of the country’s intelligence service to unseal supposedly tamper-proof urine sample bottles and to replace the urine from athletes who were doping with clean urine samples.

The revelations could mean that all of Russia’s athletes will be banned from the Rio games. An International Association of Athletics Federations taskforce is deliberating that question right now. A decision is expected June 17th.

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U.N. Panel Blocks Accreditation Bid By Committee To Protect Journalists

Russia and China were among the 10 countries voting against the press freedom group’s application for U.N. credentials. But South Africa indicated on Friday that it would reverse its “no” vote. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It should be a fairly routine matter for a press freedom organization to get the credentials to attend meetings at the United Nations, an international body whose charter calls for the respect of human rights and basic freedoms.

Instead, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found itself in what it calls a “Kafka-esque” process, deferred for years — and on Thursday, blocked by 10 countries, including Russia and China, which CPJ calls the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

“A small group of countries with poor press freedom records are using bureaucratic delaying tactics to sabotage and undermine any efforts that call their own abusive policies into high relief,” CPJ’s executive director, Joel Simon, said after the vote.

CPJ’s ECOSOC accreditation process has been one of Kafka-esqe bureaucratic limbo. https://t.co/viBHa2iMwG

— CPJ (@pressfreedom) May 27, 2016

Others voting “no” on CPJ’s application were Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan and Venezuela. Iran, Turkey and India abstained.

The United States laments this as part of a recent pattern in which applications are deferred or rejected outright by the U.N.’s 19-member Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, which recommends the organizations that should be able to gain access to U.N. meetings.

“CPJ had been deferred six times prior to today,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said following Thursday’s vote, which she called “outrageous.”

“Countries defer by asking questions. Even when those questions are answered, more questions are asked again — it’s just a device, a way of ensuring that those accreditations are not forthcoming,” she said. “It is increasingly clear that the NGO Committee acts more and more like an ‘anti-NGO Committee.”

.@UN NGO Committee rejecting Committee to Protect Journalists’ accreditation is attack on press freedom/civ society pic.twitter.com/qGsFDHu8m6

— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) May 26, 2016

The CPJ applied for “consultative status” — meaning the group’s representatives could have access to U.N. groups, certain meetings and processes — in 2007 and again in 2012, according to Courtney Radsch, CPJ’s advocacy director. She says it is difficult to get accreditation from a committee that includes “some of the most repressive countries in the world.”

Every six months, applicants are reviewed, Radsch says. In CPJ’s case, it’s been given a series of questions to answer, including how the group is funded. Radsch — who happened to be celebrating the release of a prominent Azerbaijani reporter just as Azerbaijan’s diplomat in New York was voting to keep CPJ away from the U.N. — says CPJ does not take funding from governments.

Yet no matter how many times her group has made its case, members of the U.N. committee “don’t seem to believe it,” she says, and “want to paint us as a U.S. lackey.”

The Committee to Project Journalists can be invited to take part in U.N. debates already, but it is easier to gain access to U.N. buildings, diplomats and officials when activists have passes and credentials. Other press freedom groups have been given U.N. credentials over the years, including Reporters Without Borders and the U.K.’s Article 19.

Human Rights Watch has had U.N. accreditation since 1993, but notes it is getting harder for others to join — and it, too, has to report back periodically on its work to the U.N.

Human Rights Watch is being put through “kind of an obstacle course of questions” about its work, says Akshaya Kumar, the group’s deputy U.N. director.

Power, the U.S. ambassador, says she will bring CPJ’s case to a vote of the full U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which could override the NGO committee vote. Power said she looks forward to a “lively debate” before then.

“Countries have to decide which side are they on,” she said, pointing out that Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the founding documents of the U.N., calls for the freedom of the press.

“One can learn a few things” by looking at the list of countries that voted against the CPJ, she said.

But today, one of those countries — South Africa — indicated it was having second thoughts about its “no” vote. In a statement, the government said:

“As a matter of principle, South Africa has no objection to CPJ being granted an observer status by ECOSOC given the outstanding and sterling work undertaken by the CPJ in the area of promotion and protection of journalists across the globe. We regret the misunderstanding and the wrong message that the lack of explanation of our vote in the NGO Committee could have portrayed. South Africa will during the main session of ECOSOC support the application by CPJ with a yes vote and appeal to all ECOSOC Members to do the same.”

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Slammed, Hurled and Pummeled: The Life Of A Pit Crew

Crew chief Donny Stewart, far right, throws his air gun back towards the wall at the end of a pit stop at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Crew chief Donny Stewart, far right, throws his air gun back towards the wall at the end of a pit stop at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla. Luis M. Alvarez/AP hide caption

toggle caption Luis M. Alvarez/AP

Pit lane on race day is an adrenaline rush. Especially on Sunday at the 100th run of the Indianapolis 500, where the seats are sold out and the stakes are high.

IndyCar pit crews have just seconds to change four tires and refuel their driver’s car, all while other cars fly past. In this line of work, members of pit crews expect to get pretty banged up.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is one of the big races in California that leads up to Sunday’s Indy 500. That’s where I met Graham Rahal’s pit crew — one of the top crews in pit lane.

These six guys live and breath racing. Adam Kolesar, Heath Kosik, Kyle Sagan and crew chief Donny Stewart change the tires. Mark Mason mans the airjack and Mark Bruce is the team’s fueler.

They’re packed tight in the pits. It’s close quarters down here. Heath Kosik says that one misstep can cost a race — or worse. He once had a driver nearly run him over.

“He ran right through our box, ran over our equipment and I had to basically jump on top of the car,” Kosik says.

Over the years, cars have swerved, slammed and pummeled crews.

There was an incident in 1999 where driver Michael Andretti accidentally ran over his own crew member who was standing in front of his back wheel. Then, three years ago in Sonoma, Scott Dixon, who was in the lead with 15 laps to go, was penalized after he clipped another driver’s crew member. (Dixon lost the race and maintains that the rival team’s pit crew purposely got in the way.)

Last year on a rainy day at NOLA Motorsports Park, Francesco Dracone lost control and slammed into his own crew chief. And at the 2015 Indy 500, a collision in pit lane sent a car fish-tailing into two guys changing tires.

Everyone in pit lane has a story of their own.

On Rahal’s team, Mark Mason is the veteran down here. He’s been in the pits for decades and he’s got the scars to prove it. He tells me his favorite story took place on race day back in the ’90s.

“We’re all out on pit lane,” Mason says. “And the cars are coming in at massive speed.”

Whoever changed the tire on the other team’s car didn’t fasten the wheel nut tight enough.

“By the time their car got to us, it spat the wheel nut off and hit me clean on the shin,” he says. “It was like a bullet.”

For pit crews, these high-speed injuries are just part of the job. They’re here to win — even if that means almost catching on fire.

Mark Bruce is the team’s fueler. The hose he plugs into the side of Rahal’s race car pumps in three gallons of fuel per second. One time, he says, his fuel line broke open.

“So it was just pouring fuel out of the side of the car,” Bruce says. “I was soaked, my legs were soaked.”

When it hit the exhaust, the car ignited. He escaped the flames, but it was close.

“Knock on wood, I’ve never been on fire,” he says.

That’s why IndyCar has fire teams stationed at each pit box, like Edward Ross and Pit Fire co-chief Cathy Shumaker.

“Last year I was at a race where somebody broke his leg,” Shumaker says. “Remember that? We were at Fontana. Somebody broke his leg in the pit — where he got hit by his own car.”

“Yes, it’s the part of racing you never want to see,” Ross says. “People know the risks. This is a dangerous sport.”

Back in Graham Rahal’s pit box, team manager Ricardo Nault jumps on the radio:

“Box, box, box, Graham! Box, box, box!”

That’s the call to pit. The crew throws off their headsets and puts on their racing helmets. This is their moment in the spotlight.

Mark Mason crouches against the wall with the airjack, Mark Bruce clutches the fuel line and the wheel guys fire up the air guns.

Mark Bruce, left, looks on as others examine the car. Bruce is Graham Rahal’s fueler, and he’s had his share of close calls, like the time his fuel line broke open and ignited. “Knock on wood, I’ve never been on fire,” he says. Danny Hajek/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Danny Hajek/NPR

Graham Rahal’s pit crew is ready and waiting.

Ricardo Nault radios to his team as the car flies into the pit box: “Nice and smooth, gentlemen.”

There’s a burst of activity. The car is jacked up and the red-hot, chewed-up tires come off. Meanwhile, the fuel hose goes in and fills the tank. New tires go on, the fueler unplugs and the air jack is released.

The moment Rahal’s wheels hit the ground, he hits the throttle. The pit stop lasts just 6.7 seconds.

“Alright, clear out,” Nault says over the radio.

Sunday’s Indy 500 is a total sellout event. The 500-mile race will last hours — but those heated moments in a pit stop could very well determine the race.

For Mark Mason, that’s exactly how he likes it.

“We all complain about the job, that’s human nature,” he says. “But the thing is, to do this for as long as I’ve done it, there has to be something there. A driven passion that you have. That’s my role. That’s my role in life. That I do this.”

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Netflix Programming Boom Means New Dramas, Cooking Shows And Sandler Flicks

Comedians David Spade and Adam Sandler attend the premiere of Netflix’s “The Do Over” at Regal LA Live Stadium 14 on May 16, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Netflix announced earlier this year that it’s planning to pour $6 billion into original programming in 2016.

As a new Adam Sandler and David Spade original film premieres tonight, NPR’s Eric Deggans tells Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti that the company’s definition of success is different for each project.

Guest

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How Trump, Clinton And Sanders Change Their Voices To Win Over Voters

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses a campaign rally in Salem, Oregon, May 10, 2016. Sanders beat rival Democrat Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia primary to bolster his argument for remaining in the race. (Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images)

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses a campaign rally in Salem, Oregon, May 10, 2016.
Sanders beat rival Democrat Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia primary to bolster his argument for remaining in the race. (Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images)

Charisma is a crucial component of a politician’s appeal to voters. But there’s more than one way to inspire confidence, or even adoration, among the audience of a political speech.

Voice scientist Rosario Signorello has studied how the current presidential candidates change their pitch and volume during public appearances. This week he presented that research at the Spring 2016 meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Signorello talks with Here & Now‘s Robin Young about a few examples of how presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders vary their voice and speech patterns depending on their audiences.

Guest

  • Rosario Signorello, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery and in the Voice Center for Medicine and the Arts at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. He tweets at @rosariorki.

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A Tribute To Artie Shaw On Piano Jazz

May 27, 20161:19 PM ET

Cornetist and jazz historian Richard “Dick” Sudhalter (1938 – 2008) joined Marian McPartland on several occasions to provide historical perspective on great performers and songs from the golden era of jazz. In 2002, Sudhalter sat down with McPartland to talk about clarinetist Artie Shaw (1910 – 2004). Shaw was known for his unparalleled virtuosity and as a successful bandleader with a limitless imagination.

Piano Jazz honors Shaw with selections including “Love of My Life” and “Any Old Time.”

Originally broadcast Spring 2002.

Set List
  • “Nightmare” (Shaw)
  • “Streamline” (Shaw)
  • “Begin The Beguine” (Porter)
  • “Any Old Time” (Shaw)
  • “Frenesi” (Dominguez)
  • “Stardust” (Carmichael, Parish)
  • “Love Of My Life” (Shaw, Mercer)
  • “Nocturne” (Griselle)
  • “Valse” (Poulenc)
  • “Innuendo” (Mandel)
  • “The One And Only One” (Shaw)
  • “These Foolish Things” (Link, Strachey)
  • “Don’t Take Your Love From Me” (Shaw)

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Chef Eddie Huang On Cultural Identity And 'Intestine Sticky Rice Hot Dog'

Eddie Huang is a chef and restaurateur, a TV host and the author of two memoirs.

Eddie Huang is a chef and restaurateur, a TV host and the author of two memoirs. Donald Traill/Invision/AP hide caption

toggle caption Donald Traill/Invision/AP

By the time his first memoir, Fresh Off The Boat, came out in 2013, Eddie Huang was really hitting his stride. His New York restaurant, Baohaus — which serves gua bao, or Taiwanese hamburgers — was doing really well. His TV show, Huang’s World, was taking him all over the world.

His memoir — a raw, funny and sometimes profane account of growing up as an Asian-American kid reconciling two cultures — was turned into a popular sitcom for ABC.

But then he fell in love — with a White, all-American woman. And his world turned topsy-turvy.

Huang began to question his American-Chinese identity, to fret over how Chinese he was. To figure it all out, he and his brothers, Evan and Emery, headed to their ancestral homeland, to reconnect with their culture, to eat lots and lots of food — and to cook.

NPR’s Audie Cornish spoke with Huang about these adventures, which he has documented in his new book, Double Cup Love: On the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China.

Interview Highlights

On why his father’s restaurants had decidedly non-Chinese names like Cattleman’s Steakhouse, Fajita Grill, Corleone’s Italian food and Coco’s Floribbean

My dad was a businessman’s businessman. That’s the difference between us.

I’ve opened Bauhaus and I cook food because I’m telling a story about identity. My dad opened restaurants and he cooked food because he wanted to make money. And I don’t think either one is better than the other.

You know, he had to survive, he had three kids and he did what he had to do. And he looked, and he said, Americans don’t respect us, they don’t respect our food. They still don’t pay as much for a sizzling filet mignon at a Cantonese restaurant that’s sliced with black bean sauce and onions as they do a filet mignon that they’ve done nothing to and they just put in a Montague broiler.

On cooking his food for Chinese and Taiwanese diners

I was actually in a boutique pop-up hotel, within a Super 8 Motel, that was owned by this Chengdu businesswoman… and she had also a bar called Hakka Bar upstairs, and she let me cook there.

So, me and my brothers, we brought a bunch of camping stoves, we made red cooked pork, we made some stewed cabbage, we made bitter melon, some seaweed knots.

People lined up, we served them. There [were] Hunan people there, there [were] people from Sichuan there, there [were] people from Taiwan there. It was a very special event, because I don’t feel like all these people had come together before and eaten this kind of food.

I was worried that the people there were so programmed that they only wanted what they knew. But these people were very open-minded. They were even more liberal about their Chinese identity than I was — and I think it was because they were more confident in it.

On the Chinese diners’ comments that his food was neither Chinese nor American

It was something about it I couldn’t even understand. Because in America, we have this idea of authenticity — either you’re authentically Chinese, or you’re not Chinese.

And for a lot of people I know — they’re Jamaican, they’re Puerto Rican, and they go back to their homeland as well. And you know, their aunts and uncles and cousins that didn’t come over to America, they’ve always got jokes about “Oh, look at the way you peel breadfruit, look at the way you eat ox tails, you’re not Jamaican, you’re not Puerto Rican.” So that was always in the back of my head — there’s always that insecurity, like I’m a fraud.

But over time, I realized [these diners] were complimenting me. And also, children of the diaspora — we have a job, we have a duty to take this culture, go to different places and see the different faces that it takes on.

Eddie Huang.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

On the Chinese food in China

Every time you go on the street there’s something new. I remember 10 years ago, I went to Taiwan and there was this dish — big intestine wrapped around small intestine — and they have sticky rice inside of an intestine, and they have a sausage inside, and they put tons of toppings. And it’s almost like a Chinese intestine sticky rice hot dog. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life — easily top 10.

I think food is language — just like any other language it has a system, it has a structure, it has references it draws from and it has values.

But sometimes people clunk them together like Legos. … I’m not into fusion. I’m not into a Subway teriyaki sub — that’s not my thing. I get the meatball sub at Subway.

But I like when food comes from an experience. When you go to China, you’ll see that there are new experiences. And as that society changes, so does their food.

On his fears around assimilation

Growing up in America, so many Chinese people call you American. In my case, they called me Black. And I not only didn’t fit in going back to Taiwan or going back to China, but I didn’t even fit in in the Chinese-American schools I’d go to on Sundays. And it was very tough. I was made to feel like, not only was I not American, I was also not Chinese.

This [trip around China] was me going home and really grappling with my own fears, my own insecurities about identity and asking people in the homeland what they thought.

But what I realized was it didn’t matter what American people thought of me, or what Chinese people thought of me. … It’s OK to not fit into any boxes. This trip — going to China — I’ve really learned to accept and love myself and let somebody else love me.

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