Hear, hear for dumpling diplomacy!

My nomination for best op-ed of the week (for purely selfish and personal reasons) is Nina and Tim Zagat’s piece, “Eating Beyond Sichuan,” in today’s New York Times. The Zagats (pronounced za-GAT, not ZA-guht as many people think) are the founders of the Zagat restaurant guides, which survey diners and ask them to rate the ...

601142_xiao_long_bao5.jpg
601142_xiao_long_bao5.jpg

My nomination for best op-ed of the week (for purely selfish and personal reasons) is Nina and Tim Zagat's piece, "Eating Beyond Sichuan," in today's New York Times. The Zagats (pronounced za-GAT, not ZA-guht as many people think) are the founders of the Zagat restaurant guides, which survey diners and ask them to rate the food, decor, service, and prices of dining establishments in cities around the world. So when in their Times op-ed, Nina and Tim bemoan the miserable quality of most Chinese restaurants in the U.S. of A, they've got a lot of data backing them up.

And they're absolutely right. Let's face it — most of what America considers "Chinese" food SUCKS. It's too sweet, too sticky, too oily, too heavy, and too bland. There are exceptions, of course. (Notably, my mom's kitchen and the Chinatowns in New York, San Francisco, and LA.)

But take Washington, D.C., for instance. I've been living in this city for nearly two years, and have yet to understand why it's so hard to find a single decent Chinese restaurant in the nation's capital.

My nomination for best op-ed of the week (for purely selfish and personal reasons) is Nina and Tim Zagat’s piece, “Eating Beyond Sichuan,” in today’s New York Times. The Zagats (pronounced za-GAT, not ZA-guht as many people think) are the founders of the Zagat restaurant guides, which survey diners and ask them to rate the food, decor, service, and prices of dining establishments in cities around the world. So when in their Times op-ed, Nina and Tim bemoan the miserable quality of most Chinese restaurants in the U.S. of A, they’ve got a lot of data backing them up.

And they’re absolutely right. Let’s face it — most of what America considers “Chinese” food SUCKS. It’s too sweet, too sticky, too oily, too heavy, and too bland. There are exceptions, of course. (Notably, my mom’s kitchen and the Chinatowns in New York, San Francisco, and LA.)

But take Washington, D.C., for instance. I’ve been living in this city for nearly two years, and have yet to understand why it’s so hard to find a single decent Chinese restaurant in the nation’s capital.

Well, according to the Zagats, America’s Chinese food crisis may be a result of … September 11th. Really. Sounds nutty at first, but it kind of makes sense. They write:

[T]he principal obstacle to improving Chinese fare here is the difficulty of getting visas for skilled workers since 9/11. … If Henry Kissinger could practice “Ping-Pong diplomacy,” perhaps Condoleezza Rice could try her hand at “dumpling diplomacy”? China and the United States should work together on a culinary visa program that makes it easier for Chinese chefs to come here. With more chefs who are schooled in China’s dynamic new restaurant scene, we would see a transformation of the way Chinese food is served in this country.

I propose that we recruit guest worker chefs. And that the first place we send them is to Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital. Please?

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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