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Dr. Jacqueline M. Newman's life-long love of Chinese food

by Du Guohui and Li Xin
translated from the Chinese by Len Yang

Personal Perspectives

Summer Volume: 2013 Issue: 20(3) page(s): 5

This article was published in Epoch Times on January 18, 2013

Flavor and Fortune is probably the only all-English-language magazine in the USA dealing with the Chinese food culture. Its editor-in-chief, Dr. Jacqueline M. Newman is a scholar specializing in the history of Chinese food, its culture, and its culinary techniques. She shares experiences and information with us as one of its founders and its editor since the magazine's inception. She has had a life-long dedication to Chinese food and to righting misconceptions about it to the Western world.

Twenty-plus years ago, she and a group of friends decided to hold a conference and publish a magazine to promote Chinese cuisine. That was in 1994, the conference called: "Chinese Cuisine and the American Palate." It was a three-day conference held at Queens College in Flushing New York, and a huge success. However, the magazine's first issue was a huge disappointment. What was needed was a year and a professional designer to help fix its look.

Flavor and Fortune is published thanks to efforts of volunteers from the editor-in-chief to all article contributors. These folk have day jobs and sometimes can not meet their deadlines. So there are times the editor has to finish their work herself. In spite of this, Flavor and Fortune thrives. It has grown from twenty-four to a forty page quarterly magazine.

In the earlier days, Dr. Newman tried to get advertisements to defray operational costs, but found that too time consuming. She needed to concentrate on her full-time job and its editorial responsibilities. Now she relies only on subscriptions and donations. She says she is lucky to have a chemistry background enabling combining that with Chinese history, sociology, and anthropology. "Maybe that is why this magazine is so successful," she says.

Dr. Newman was born on the lower east side of Manhattan to a Jewish family. Ever since age seven when her aunt took her many times to Chinese restaurants, she began her love of Chinese food. My master's degree thesis and my doctoral dissertation were about the Chinese food culture. Now at age eighty, I am still learning and loving this cuisine. Newman has traveled to more than seventy countries, and wherever she goes, she looks for Chinese restaurants and tries their foods.

Dr. Newman is an authority on Chinese cuisine but still her editorial work requires lots of research and verification. She enjoys doing that, and getting feedback from readers. In recent issues, she has concentrated on ethnic minority groups in China because there is so little about them in English; that makes this a challenging task. She is proud of being able to answer questions and clarify misconceptions about Chinese food.

With many more Chinese immigrants and restaurants in this country, people now realize Cantonese is not the only Chinese food and that a banquet is not limited to four or eight courses. There are many regional Chinese cuisines, and Dr. Newman recognizes the need to work hard to preserve all their cultural food traditions here and everywhere.

1) At the grand opening of the Hangzhou Food Museum, March 2012, the museum named and photographed eight who made great contributions to Chinese food. They displayed their photographs. Newman is one of the eight, the only one who is not Chinese.
2) She edited all English signs in that museum.
3) She has donated close to five thousand volumes, eighty percent are Chinese cookbooks and herbal volumes in English or English and another language; they were given to Stony Brook University's Library, to the Special Collections area. All the cookbooks she annotated readying them for searching.
4) The P.F. Chang restaurant chain used this collection to develop their Sichuan menu.
5) Ms. Kristen Nytray, Special Collections Librarian at Stony Brook along with a graduate assistant set up a LIBGUIDE to access them and other information. They invite you to use it at http://sunysb.libguides.com/Chinese-culinary-history
6) Newman made all Flavor and Fortune articles since its beginning, with the exception of the most recent four years, available on line as well at current book and restaurant reviews. They are at www.flavorandfortune.com

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