Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America
MOCA in Flushing, Queens
March 17, 2023 – September 10, 2023
ON VIEW @ TANGRAM, 133-33 39TH AVENUE, FLUSHING, NY
Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America is an exhibition exploring how Chinese food is defined and interpreted through the personal stories of 33 Chinese and Asian American chefs. The exhibition invites the audience into a conversation about the meaning of Chinese food as a platform for experimentation, a test of authenticity, a means of immigrant survival, and a microcosm of Chinese culture. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy explores how food represents not only a cultural form of expression and identity, but how it is influenced through personal stories and geographical landscapes.
This exhibition from MOCA is a celebration of Chinese cuisine and culture, and there is no better place to display this than at the heart of Flushing, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the United States with over 69% of its immigrant population coming from Asia. While MOCA’s home neighborhood of Chinatown in Manhattan has been a beacon for New York’s Asian communities, many locals know Flushing for its equally enticing cuisine spanning cultures. This exhibition symbolically bridges this 10-mile gap to unite visitors and locals alike with stories of the culinary arts from personal and professional points of view.
At Tangram, the site of this latest iteration of the exhibition, robust cultural and culinary experiences take center stage, providing the community with a multitude of regional Asian cuisines under one roof. Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy adds a layer of understanding to the significance of Tangram’s offerings in the community and beyond, demonstrating how food is influenced through personal stories and geographical landscapes. Making this collaboration particularly fitting, Jason Wang’s Xi’an Famous Foods was as a food hall stall in 2009 at what was once the Flushing Mall; now, his hand-pulled noodles are commemorated in ceramics on the very same site at Tangram.
The exhibition weaves together the complex stories through a dynamic video installation featuring pioneering chefs such as Martin Yan, Ken Hom, Ming Tsai and Anita Lo; new restaurateurs like Peter Chang, Jason Wang, and Danny Bowien; and persevering home cooks like Ni Biying.
Each chef and 18 different regional cooking styles are represented through unique ceramic sculptures that are placed in the center of the room on a monumental dining room table. Through these interpretative pieces, visitors learn about the chef’s cooking style and experience their shared narratives, inspirations, and memories.
Current Exhibition Hours
FRIDAY: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM ET
As exhibition hours might be expanded in the coming weeks, please kindly check back for the latest updates.
FREE Admission. No reservations needed.
- By Subway: Take the Purple 7 Line to Flushing Main St.
- By Train: Take the Port Washington Line to Flushing Main St.
- By Bus: FQI2, Q13, QI4, Q15, QI6, QI7, QI9, Q20A/B, Q25, Q26, Q27, Q28, Q34, Q44, Q48, Q58, Q65, Q66, QBXI
- By Car: LIE, Exit 23 / CIP, Exit 14, Self-Parking Entrance, 37-25 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11354.
Tangram is a mixed-use development project located in the heart of Downtown Flushing, Queens. Tangram is elevating Flushing through its groundbreaking vision of immersive retail, residential, office and hotel space, featuring 275,000 square feet of high-end curated retail in a multi-level space alongside a sweeping, sky-lit atrium. A joint development between F&T Group and SCG America – developers of the highly successful One Fulton Square mixed-use project, also in Flushing – Tangram offers 1.2 million square feet including retail, residential, office and hotel space. This New York destination includes and will soon open a four-star, 208-key Renaissance New York Flushing Hotel at Tangram, a state-of-the-art 4DX movie theater from Regal Cinemas, Orangetheory Fitness, premier learn-to-swim facility Goldfish Swim School and the neighborhood’s first beer garden. Tangram also features a 24,000-square-foot food hall, a foodie’s paradise with international eats. Eateries include Beijing-based Ju Qi, Taiwanese dessert bar Meet Fresh and one of the largest and most popular hot pot chains in China, Xiao Long Kan Hot Pot. Designed by New York-based Margulies Hoelzli Architecture, with retail interiors by BHDM, Tangram is designed to become a global destination, marking a new chapter for entertainment and experience in NYC. Tangram is slated to open in 2022. For more information visit www.tangramnyc.com.
MOCA has been creating new content through multiple platforms, always free of charge—because history matters. We hope you’ll consider making a gift to become part of a continuing lifeline for MOCA. No amount is too little and we greatly appreciate your generosity. Your contribution helps sustain our beloved institution and supports the creation of new programming that will bring comfort and inspiration to more communities.
Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy
Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America