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Martin Yan: Via Lucky Peach #5, The Chinatown Issue


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Lucky Peach features Martin Yan in a compelling, first-person format interspersed with narrative, capturing his worldview and the reader's attention.



"...You cannot fake it. Faking is very tiring..."

"...If your restaurant is very successful, you think you are at the top.  It's not really true. There's a Chinese saying: 寧還å”寧멕. You think a mountain is the highest, but when you climb to the top, you see a higher mountain..."

"...I don't open restaurants because I want to make a lot of money.  I want to fulfill my dreams..."

"...My mother went through the Cultural Revolution....When we had nothing to eat, what we did was stir-fry marbles with fermented black beans.  We just sucked the black beans off the marbles and we ate rice, so psychologically we felt like we were eating something more..."

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This is awesome!  I loved, loved, loved "Yan Can Cook" as a child.  His show was definitely on the top-10 list of things that got me interested in the intersection of food and culture when very young.

It takes Yan Can Cook novices approximately three episodes to pick up on his Yannerisms: "Look at this! Look at this!" "I will show you," "Beauuuutiful,""And then, you slice into small pieces. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight!" "Everyone say baht! Baht! This means eight in Chinese. Easy."

Kevin Pang (who wrote this piece) is one lucky journalist to have been assigned it.

I think I always sensed the compassion, unbridled enthusiasm and humility he brought to the show and which Pang so perfectly unfurls here.  And, very cool of Lucky Peach to not put this behind a firewall.

Yan Can Cook. We all can. That's the whole point.  His life philosophy and values are truly universal.  And, wow, can he wield a cleaver!

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The very thing that always stood out to me about Yan is that his TV persona really seemed to be his real persona. He may be cheesy and goofy and silly, but you could just TELL that it wasn't an act. I'd love to hang out and knock back a few cold ones with him. I am sure that it would be a riot.

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