Monday, March 16, 2009

Kylie vs Anthony

Kylie Kwong is out of her depth. I enjoyed her little chat at the Singapore Writers Festival a few years ago and managed to find the recipe for what I knew as "Shantung" chicken (from my favorite Chinese place in Church St, Nth Parramatta - seems to be a vacant block now on Google Earth) in one of her early cook-books.

But I watched her on the cable (Asian Food Channel?? "Kylie Kwong: My China"), and felt acutely embarrassed. I forget where she was or what she was doing, but whatever, wherever, it was an unmitigated disaster. She didn't speak the language, she didn't get the cultural significance of what she was doing or asking, and crucially, she obviously had no idea about the food around her, plus, to top it off, cultural cringe on my part, her Sydney accent made me want to burrow underground. It was completely groanworthy.

But it was the off-the-cuff arrogance that really got to me. The false "this camera is pointing at ME" confidence of those truly making it up as they goes along. I recognize myself in this, making up some almost digestible bull-shit in order to kid a visitor that I know WTF is going on when in fact, I am totally lost (I can't believe I am admitting this in public!). This pretense of the "Old China Hand" is something you can easily slip into. At least I don't have the bravura to ask for people to point a TV camera at me while I jerk them around.

I had to turn Kylie off after 3 minutes.

Thanks to Lisa for reminding me how much I detested this show. Here is a list from Lisa's soon-to-be-disappearing-again-blog of people who agree with me and her.

Quite frankly Sir, I find that offensive!

Hating Kylie Kwong

Kylie Kwong Drinking Game

Oh My China…

Kylie Kwong: Fraud


Anthony Bourdain however, also guilty of excessive chutzpah on occasion, at least admits when he is wrong.

Bourdain on Japan on the weekend, getting the geisha treatment, fucked up with some fish liver. He had no idea and admitted it, and he allowed the geisha to show him how to eat it - as a dipping sauce. Cool, well done. Humility from the big guy.

And ya gotta love his New York accent.



Spike said...

Bourdain has an accent? I never noticed.

HKMacs said...

When he got rolled over twice by the beach buggy in NZ, I thought he'd had it. Nevertheless he was in a profound state of shock for the rest of that episode. I fully expected him to just keel over.

expat@large said...

Spike: If I can admit Kylie has an accent, you can admit Bourdain has one too!

Vince: I didn't see that. Yowser. p.s. They have food in New Zealand?

HKMacs said...

Nah! I think they were all Aussies, anyway. Can't tell the difference really except for the wellies!

Lost in Melbourne said...

How does Kwong manage to call the show 'My China' when you can clearly see that she has never been to most of the places before. Sure a few generations ago her family came from these villages but not only does she now speak the dialect. She has no idea where she really is.

Plenty of us down here in Australia don't think too much of her either. I think we have enough genuine Chinese her to pass over a fake...

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