Thursday, February 12, 2015


ABC’s new comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” premiered last week, with two new episodes airing tonight. My family and I have been looking forward to its debut since the fall, when the trailer made my 15-year-old laugh so hard, he literally fell to the floor, clutching his stomach. (In comparison, “Black-ish” made him muse, “Maybe the actual show will be funnier.”)

Neither my oldest son nor I are Asian. In fact, the closest thing either of us gets to Asian is that we both attend(ed) selective public high schools for the “gifted”; me in San Francisco, him inNew York City, where the majority of the student bodies are Asian.

But race wasn’t the commonality either he or I found with “Fresh Off the Boat.” It was, rather, the American immigrant experience, which I know of first-hand, having moved from the Soviet Union with my parents when I was 7, and which my son gets to enjoy second-hand, due to his good fortune in having been born my child.

Eddie, the lead character and narrator of “Fresh of the Boat” (the series is based on chef Eddie Huang’s bestselling memoir), is the American-born son of Taiwanese parents, living in Florida in the 1990s, who just wants to fit in at his new school. And, oh yeah, he also worships black rappers, and African American culture, in general.

To Eddie, fitting in means brings Lunchables to school, not the Chinese food his mother packs him. “I want white people food,” he insists.

I may not have expressed myself in exactly the same terms, but I do remember informing my mother that it seems American children do not eat beef tongue sandwiches, red caviar with thick butter spread on black bread, or kholodets, meat frozen in its own aspic jelly. So, could we, uhm… change up that menu a bit?

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