Ali Wong’s obsession with food is genuine within the Netflix rom-com “Always Be My Maybe.” Her Instagram includes pix of her family, her process, and lots and plenty of meals. And in an interview with IndieWire where she starts discussing couture designer Thai Nguyen dressing her for the red carpet, the communication somehow switches to Vietnamese food.
“When Thai first got here over to my residence to drop off the dress, he introduced overall this banh from his boyfriend’s mother’s shop,” said Wong, who’s Vietnamese on her mother’s facet. “It changed into nm Chua that turned into wonderful bitter, top notch highly spiced. Pig Ears. Cha Lua. It changed into notable. The whole enjoy of operating with him became so clean and superb.”
The manner to Wong’s heart is through her palate, and this is reflected in the love story vital to “Always Be My Maybe,” which she co-wrote and stars in with Randall Park. In the movie, she performs superstar chef Sasha Tran, who makes a specialty of fancy, improved Asian delicacies in Los Angeles. When she reconnects with her formative year’s friend Marcus (Park) in San Francisco, sparks fly, but they need to navigate each different’s life picks before turning into a pair. This consists of Sasha’s approach to cooking and how it reflects her feelings about identification and love.
In a scene early in their reunion, Marcus overhears Sasha on the smartphone discussing her new restaurant in San Francisco and claims she’s the usage of her “smartphone voice.” The message is obvious; she’s fake with the aid of code-switching her intonation and language.
This subject matter returns later inside the film. During an issue with Sasha, Marcus takes problem with the period “movie star chef” and then provides, “You recognize what period I also hate? ‘Elevated Asian delicacies.’ Asian meals aren’t purported to be increased. It’s alleged to be authentic. That’s what you used to make with my mother.
“I don’t recognize why you’re doing this sort of stuff now,” he continues. “It’s no longer proper. Asian food shouldn’t be served in a shot glass. It should be served in a large-ass bowl. You’re just catering to rich white people.”
In brief, he’s accusing her of culinary code-switching. She’s still cooking Asian food, even her native style of delicacies. However, her approach conforms to excessive society requirements for confusing, fussy, and illogical presentation in his eyes. He wants his meals simple, tasty, and filling. All the relaxation is simply code-switching noise.
In the give up, Sasha and Marcus come to be a pair, as the rom-com gods dictate. But because the meals journey should also follow suit, Sasha’s method to cuisine also returns to what made her glad in adolescence. In the movie’s penultimate scene, she well-known shows the eating place idea for her New York eatery: homey Korean dishes from Marcus’ past due to mother’s recipes. The featured dish is a big, effervescent vat of fiery red kimchi jigae, which of direction is served in a large-ass bowl.
Wong said, “[Director Nahnatchka Khan] has stated that food is memories. And for her character, it’s a way that Sasha connects to Marcus, his mother, and their family because they fed her. It just made sense tale-wise for her to come to be cooking that sort of food because that’s what she ordinarily grew up with.”
This isn’t a new storytelling idea. Home can be in which the coronary heart is. However, it’s additionally wherein the belly has been raised. That’s why youth experience recollections often decide what one considers consolation meals. It’s why the snooty meals critic in “Ratatouille” is so moved by using Remy’s spin at the traditional French vegetable dish.
What is new, however, is how “Always Be My Maybe” affords such a lot of conventional Asian meals as ordinary American fare without explanation. More importantly, it’s offered as acceptable and delicious — not Othered as smelly, gross, bizarre, or inferior. Many Asian-Americans have skilled meals-shaming one way or some other, and that’s often amplified in the media, inclusive of how “Gilmore Girls” mocks Indian meals’ pungent scent. Even “Fresh Off the Boat” addresses this issue in its pilot episode while young Eddie (Hudson Yang) is shunned for bringing noodles to high school.