3 Reflections on Food in East Asian Cultures
SOLA Network | FEBRUARY 21, 2019 | 2 MIN READ
Three SOLA contributors shared with us their thoughts on East Asian food culture and the Gospel. Read their reflections below!
1. Room for an Extra Plate
By Raymond Chang
One thing I love about collectivist cultures is that you always cook food in order to share.
Growing up, we always had people randomly drop by for lunch or dinner. There was never a time we didn’t have enough for the surprise guest since the food is designed for community.
My parents never stressed out when someone would randomly stopped by. Since our dishes were typically stews and side dishes people dig their chopsticks into, all we really needed was an extra bowl of rice.
I loved this because we anticipated potential need.
2. Reminders of Jesus
By Daniel K. Eng
For Chinese New Year, I made some stir-fried noodles for dinner. We taught our girls that long noodles in Chinese culture represent longevity, so we eat them on special occasions. While we know that longevity is good, we make sure to teach that eternal life is much, much better. So we’ve called these “eternal life noodles.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30)
3. The Language of Food
By Kevin Yi
In Eastern cultures, food is capable of speaking an incredibly complex language. The Pixar short, “Bao”, for example, utilizes the metaphor of making dumplings to manifest the relational conflicts of a 1st and 2nd generation Chinese immigrant family.
Food is so central to Asian cultures that there is an entire category of YouTube videos called “Mukbang,” which are videos of people broadcasting themselves eating a delicious meal. These videos tap into the Eastern culture of human connection and food. So if you have to eat in a lonely cubicle all by yourself, why not watch someone who is also eating and seems to be enjoying the meal?
I love this aspect of our culture because it speaks so clearly to the need for fellowship; but more specifically, to the breaking of bread. Jesus himself illustrated his love for us by utilizing a simple but profound meal analogy to bear the weight of the gospel. In the Old Testament, God enacted his covenant to Israel by having them consecrate a special Passover meal to commemorate the saving of his people.
And lest we forget, it was through the fruit in the Garden of Evil that Adam and Eve ate that would bring sin, suffering, and death into the world, but it would be the Savior who drinks of the cup of the wrath of God who would save the world and have victory over death.
Ray Chang is a pastor/preacher who was born in Chicagoland and has lived all around the world. Ray received a Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Communication from Wheaton College, a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Higher Education from Azusa Pacific University. He is happily married to Jessica. Follow him on Twitter: @tweetraychang or on his blog raymondchang.wordpress.com
Daniel Eng is a husband, dad, preacher, teacher, and Bible scholar. After a decade of pastoral ministry in California and Texas, he is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Cambridge, researching the epistle of James. He has a Doctor of Ministry in Asian American Ministry (Talbot) and desires to see Asian Americans follow Jesus Christ and make an impact for God's kingdom. Daniel currently lives in the United Kingdom with his wife Sanjung and three daughters, Joanna, Josie, and Jessica.
Kevin Yi is the youth and education pastor at Church Everyday in Los Angeles, CA and has been serving the middle school and high school students for over 15 years. He is a bi-vocational pastor and has been in the animation industry for over 10 years. He is the founder of truthmattersministries.com. He and his wife Tracy are celebrating eleven years of marriage together and have three children: Caden, Isabella, and Ian. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Talbot Theological Seminary.