Including: pho, ramen, and all the rest. Conflicted? You're not alone.
Last week, Jeremy Lin held his fourth annual fan appreciation event, answering questions in a Facebook Live session. I tuned in and learned The O.C. was his favorite show in college, he plans on braiding his hair on a regular basis with the Brooklyn Nets this season, and I also learned Lin, who gave Asian-American sports fans the best stretch of their lives with Linsanity, in his own words, hates all soups.
Hold on. Lin really said no to coffee (whatever), tea (what?), ramen (why??) and pho (how???). And he said it with so much conviction you knew right away it wasn’t not an on the fence thing. He’s got his mind pretty made up on the matter of hot soup items. On Twitter, the response to Lin ranged from: “I’m so conflicted right now,” to “this is why they say never meet your idols,” to “heartbreaking,” to “I’m gonna need you to delete this and let’s all collectively pretend this never happened.”
Now, Lin’s revelation ranks somewhere in between I wish I liked both co-hosts on a podcast so the entire thing was listenable for me AND I might have created so many different passwords for each login I now remember none of them including the answers to every skill testing question, but based on information gathered from a series of interviews, Facebook Q&As, and a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, this is what we know about Lin’s relationship with Asian food and food in general:
● His three favorite foods are sushi, steak, and seafood. Some variation of the latter two would look great on a bowl of pho.
● A photo of Jeremy Lin at a pho restaurant in Salt Lake City from 2013 exists, although it’s more likely he ordered a bánh mì instead.
● His preferred restaurant in Los Angeles is Roscoe’s Fried Chicken. His favorite spot in New York is Sushi of Gari. His favorite type of sushi is seared salmon. He really liked the bacon-wrapped pizza at Little Ceasars. He’s admitted several times he cannot resist In-N-Out Burger.
● He likes his boba milk tea with passion fruit juice, he enjoys mango shaved ice and likes to put Sriracha sauce on his eggs.
● When asked about his favorite Chinese food, Lin responded: “My mom’s Chinese cooking (she makes this awesome pastry, the best fried rice and this amazing carrot dish). But even I can’t turn down a Panda Express meal every once in awhile.”
● In a video with the Fung Bros, Lin went for Americanized Chinese food in Charlotte. “My mom and dad would call it fake Chinese food” Lin says in the video. He doesn’t like stinky tofu, and prefers lo-mein over fried rice. “I would not take my parents to P.F. Chang’s,” he said. “That would be offensive to them.”
The last two points about Lin reminds me of when David Choe took Anthony Bourdain to Sizzler on Parts Unknown. In the episode, Choe made Italian meatball tacos with guacamole and nacho cheese at the salad bar, and explained why it was the best food in Koreatown growing up.
It also takes me back to Oliver Wang, an associate professor of sociology at CSU-Long Beach, writing about his ambivalence towards the food of his immigrant parents growing up in Los Angeles’s San Gabriel Valley in the ‘80s: “I feel like every Asian American memoir that came from a ‘70s or ‘80s baby like myself included at least one requisite passage where an author expresses embarrassment over lunch boxes filled with kimchi or natto or curry that invited stares or jeers from non-Asian peers. We yearned for hot dogs and hamburgers, milk shakes and chili fries: proper American fare to sooth assimilation anxieties.”
Lin, like many of us Asians growing up in North America, have an affinity towards American food. Choe had Sizzler. Lin had Panda Express. I don’t mind getting drenched eating a bowl of pho on a hot summer day, but I’ve equally enjoyed Olive Garden on several occasions, and not in some ironic way. Their pasta is a nice change of pace once in awhile.
All of this explains Lin’s view towards traditional Asian food but it’s still hard to get past the hurdle that he would shut off all hot soup items. Also, this Instagram photo of him holding Subway sandwiches has taken on a new context for me. I have so many questions for Lin, starting with:
● What he thinks about Wong Lo Kat herbal tea?
● If he’s ever read Slam Dunk?
● Does he order chicken feet at dim sum?
Still, “I hate all soups” is a tough one to get over. But while accepting that Lin has never experienced (or if he has, never enjoyed) burying his face into a bowl of pho while drenched in sweat, we’ll never experience dropping 38 points on the Lakers on a Friday night and owning Madison Square Garden for several weeks while sleeping on his brother’s couch.
We can get past this, or at least start to by watching some highlights: