How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Bao, empanadas, and the Pillsbury Doughboy

Photo by danaspencer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Char siu bao, March 2009

Photo by danaspencer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Char siu bao, March 2009


Over the weekend I saw a couple of amusing tweets from @jenny8lee, aka journalist Jennifer 8. Lee, the former New York Times reporter turned author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles and a general food fan. The first, on Saturday:

Was my mom the only Chinese mom to use Pillsbury dough for the oustide of steamed bao buns?

The second, on Sunday:
My mom, who apparently reads my twitter feed, said she learned the pillsbury dough as bao outside trick from Chinese newspaper.

Aside from making me chuckle, the tweets provoked an immediate reaction of "Wow, so it's used for more than empanadas?"

The plump, doughy meat-filled buns, popular in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines, and the savory turnovers eaten throughout Latin America are probably just a few of the alternative uses that immigrant cooks, as pressed for time as anyone else, have devised for the ubiquitous refrigerated biscuit dough over the years.

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