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Fancy Because It's French: A Faux Mooncake

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! I can’t believe it’s been over 2 years (!!) since the official debut of Asian in America. The series’ last course, Fancy Because It’s French, is faux red bean mooncake that poses the question: What does it mean to be “valuable”? How do we assess the relationship of worth and power? To make this dish, I apply much of the fancy French techniques I was taught in culinary school as substitutes for the laborious process of making a traditional mooncake. However, I keep the classic flavor profiles of red bean, salted duck egg (homemade — it takes about a month), and oolong tea; so, does this mean I’ve improved this dish? “Elevated” it?

During our regular Asian in America dinners, this course is paired with homemade soymilk and accompanied with a virtual reality segment where viewers watch a brushstroke-by-brushstroke recreation of the entire creation process alongside audio narration from myself explaining the symbolism behind the ingredients & technique. Today I’ve transferred the spoken word into text form — swipe to read!

This also serves as a little announcement that Studio ATAO will be debuting a 10-part video series titled COOK THE MENU where I teach every painstaking detail of the full 6 courses of Asian in America and offer commentary on its inspirations & personal stories behind the dish. You can bet the entire process of this “mooncake” will be explained! Viewers can also rent VR headsets from us to experience the whole menu in immersive 360. Our Patreon members will be receiving first dibs on tickets, so if you want to ensure you have a spot click the link here to support us!

Music credit: Ketsa - Day Trips

What is authenticity?

Is it a search for meaning,

or a game of social capital?

i may say i’m free willed enough

to ignore the rules of some tire company,

but that’s just pretend.

i am not from the city of lights

the most romantic place in the world.

Instead, i’m from the place we associate with shoddy plastic toys

fake infant formula


It took a month to cure these duck eggs,

but that art is meaningless here;

selectively banished to the ethnic shelf,

a subset within our embrace of “diversity”.

So i disguise the yolks as creme anglaise,

a beginner dessert sauce.

It rolls off the tongue seductively

into others’ wallets with ease

Life is full of vices,

so we cherry pick what we deem acceptable.

Fat is flavor

so is foie, only a little inhumane.

But msg is poison.

Bubble tea will ruin your bikini body.

But not this red bean mousse;

it’s elegant


No need for objectivity when there is marketing.

It’s easier to assume a monolith of the countries who serve us,

supply our demand for cheap goods,

so when we splurge,

it can be something aspirational

imported from France.

It’s the same reason I was never taught techniques from such unworthy countries.

What use do I have for the traditional wrapper?

Long hours laboring over alkaline water,

golden syrup, egg, and flour.

i substitute a cookie instead.

This is not even a mooncake,

but if call it such

i’m a chef, I shrug.

If i misrepresented a few things,

it’s because i’m awakening my creativity.

Truthfully i’ve forgotten much of my own history

maybe that’s why i’ve internalized another’s.

i grew up wishing i would wake up blonde,

yet i could never give up my love for soymilk

even if i drink it over ice.

Now, i’ve learned to forgive myself

for blurring the edges.

after all,

i am what i eat

and asian food has fed me well

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