In fact, rolling out Szechuan sauce with the original Mulan was itself problematic, though critics were less aware, then, of how the film collapsed millennia of complex Chinese history and culture into a flat, oversimplified pastiche. Maybe they just cared less. Either way, it’s not surprising that the country’s elaborate cuisine and varied flavor profiles were likewise distilled into that catch-all sweet-spicy-sour Chinese condiment — the aforementioned Szechuan sauce — and served up alongside all-American chicken McNuggets.
Clamoring for the simultaneous release of Szechuan sauce and a film inspired by a sixth-century Chinese folktale is the same as asking for Mickey D’s to serve up a rich Hollandaise or Béarnaise in honor of the quintessentially French Beauty and the Beast. Delicious as that situation might be, it has nothing to do with the roots of the legend it purports to celebrate. French cuisine is lauded for its geographical nuances (Normandy gave birth to Hollandaise, while Béarnaise is Parisian; three other French “mother sauces” exist), and reducing it into a single flavor profile would be viewed as disrespectful by home cooks and connoisseurs alike. Because it is.
The same goes for thinking Szechuan sauce could represent all of China — Sichuan (the traditional spelling) is just one of the country’s 34 provinces — but it’s obvious that this instance of cultural and culinary reductionism doesn’t seem to hold as much weight. It’s not hard to imagine why.
Oh good freaking grief, it is sauce! Nothing more! No one, and no culture is being reduced. How many variants of BBQ sauce are there, and BBQ rubs for that matter? Should Southerners examine each ingredient in each rub or sauce and then claim some imagined offense? Maybe we should defend the cultural purity of our BBQ, cornbread, fried chicken, or collard green recipes and preparation? Of course not because again, there are many different ways these cultural dishes are prepared.
In other words, relax, it will all be OK, after all it is only sauce
One thing I note about this piece by Yasmin Tayag stands out in its hypocrisy. Read this paragraph
While we’ve come a long way since Mulan, we unfortunately still live in an age where Scarlett Johansson is our best Japanese actress and Asian men are beat up on airplanes for no reason other than gross ignorance. There’s no telling whether McDonald’s will actually bring Szechuan sauce back, but the last thing Asian-Americans need is a sauce to obscure the diversity of their cultures in the same shade of faceless, nationless, Western-approved brown.
Odd, she is right in noting the diversity of different Asian people languages, cultures, etc. Yet she uses the Asian-American label, which gives an impression that all Asians are the same. Remember Yasmin, consistency matters. But, of course, Liberalism is an ideology of convenience, so consistency, is, well only useful when it is convenient to whatever failed narrative is being pushed.