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Palo Alto Weekly

- July 5, 2019

A thriving cultural force

Couple recalls 'amazing' growth of Palo Alto's once-fledgling Chinese community

by Chris Kenrick

In 1950s Palo Alto, a cup of coffee cost a nickel, an apartment in College Terrace rented for $75 a month and the Chinese community represented a tiny minority of the population: Only 167 residents, or 0.7% of Palo Alto's residents, were Chinese, according the 1950 U.S. Census.

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Contributing Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly.com.


13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2019 at 9:36 am

The newspaper put quotes around "amazing" in the headline because they wanted to stir up controversy over an increasing non-white population in Palo Alto. Realistically, white Palo Alto continues to ignore its non-white population. There are no Asian supermarkets in Palo Alto and the mainstream supermarkets don't stock any fresh Chinese fruits or vegetables other than bok choy.

13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2019 at 10:49 am

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North

>> There are no Asian supermarkets in Palo Alto and the mainstream supermarkets don't stock any fresh Chinese fruits or vegetables other than bok choy.

There aren't any -super-markets of any type in Palo Alto, so, why would there be an Asian one? Unlike some, I have no problem with that. Markets in Palo Alto are small-to-medium. Whole Foods has quite a variety, but, it costs too much for me. Trader Joe's has its particular assortment. Safeway is, well, Safeway. etc. Hence, large shopping runs are to Mountain View, where there are medium to large supermarkets of many varieties. "Asian"? How about "99 Ranch Market, 1350 Grant Rd, Mountain View, CA 94040. (650) 966-8899."

The powers that be have decided that building more and more office space in Palo Alto is much important than grocery stores. So, everybody goes to Mtn. View for that big weekly shopping experience. So what? Maybe you can convince Stanford to build some big supermarkets in the Research Park. (But, I doubt it.)

12 people like this
Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Mr. Wu also owns a bit of immortality in the cooking world.

Some background: Starting in the late 1960s, Chinese cooking became both better appreciated and more diverse in the US. The regional cooking of Sichuan was downright fashionable in the 1970s, mentions of it surfaced in pop culture. Contributing to all that were recent, authentic English-language Sichuanese cookbooks. The collaboration by Chiang Jung-Feng with Ellen and John Schrecker ("Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook," 1976) says the following about ma po dou fu (ma po tofu), one of Sichuan's best-known dishes:

"Eugene Wu, the librarian of the Harvard-Yenching Library, grew up in Chengtu and claims that as a schoolboy he used to eat Pock-Marked Ma's Bean Curd, or mapo doufu, at a restaurant run by the original Pock-Marked Ma herself. You ordered by weight, so many grams of bean curd and so many grams of meat, and your serving would be weighed out and cooked as you watched. It arrived at the table fresh, fragrant, and so spicy-hot, or _la,_ that it actually caused sweat to break out. . ." (Mr. Wu is said to've endorsed the book's recipe.)

4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2019 at 10:20 pm

Interesting people!

9 people like this
Posted by i am a chinese
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 7, 2019 at 12:16 am

we the Chinese want to live in harmony with all other communities - blacks, whites, browns, pinks and grays.

6 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2019 at 9:20 am

Given the percentage of Asians in Palo Alto, it amazes me that Chinese New Year isn't a school holiday.

2 people like this
Posted by Xiao Ping
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 7, 2019 at 9:29 am

More Chinese will be coming to Palo Alto. It is a very attractive and affordable living environment despite the overall congestion. Financing not a problem.

Current 40% Palo Alto Asian demographics is a growing number as overseas Chinese RE agents are arranging many property transfers for relocation to SF Bay Area.

Palo Alto & Los Altos are preferred midpeninsula communities...also Menlo Park and Mountain View.

Close proximity to schools and shopping very important.

6 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 8, 2019 at 12:42 pm

eileen is a registered user.

>>>Before World War II, the Chinese community consisted of mainly Cantonese immigrants who ran restaurants and laundries. After World War II, the influx of new immigrants, mostly non-Cantonese, were academics and computer technicians, he said.

"After 1980, mainland Chinese students came to study, and it's amazing to see how many remained here and became professors at universities, medical doctors, engineers," Eugene said. "This was just unimaginable before."

This statement sounds a little bit of a put down toward Cantonese speaking immigrants, who mainly come from Hong Kong. (which is now fighting for their FREEDOM from the mainland) I'm sure the Wu's did not mean to imply that only Mandarin speaking Chinese coming to this country, are educated doctors, engineers, professors, or students.

6 people like this
Posted by Trygve
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Chinese New Year should NOT be a school holiday, as it does not apply to the vast majority of residents.

4 people like this
Posted by Native
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 10, 2019 at 12:00 am

Since Xiao Ping says financing is not a problem, should be no problem to have a large tax on home purchases by foreign nationals and another large tax on ghost houses, like Vancouver has:

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