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Go Support Your Local Chinatown

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

Boiled dumplings covered in chile oil
Take me to 88 Lan Zhou Handmade Noodles
Devra Ferst

This post originally appeared on February 15, 2020 in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

Last week, my husband and his friends had a group dinner in Queens’s Chinatown to celebrate a birthday. One of his friends opted out, because he was afraid of putting himself at risk of getting the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

He’s not alone. Chinatowns across the United States are suffering from a dramatic decline in business during the typically busy Lunar New Year celebrations and beyond, due to a drop in tourists from China, but also, unfounded fears from locals that they would be at increased risk of contracting the illness there.

Going to Chinatown does not increase our risk of contracting the coronavirus. That’s according to health officials, city officials, and common sense. We are all so much more likely to catch the flu this year, which kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and tens of thousands of Americans each year, than the coronavirus, which has affected a fraction of that number and a statiscally tiny number of Americans.

Chinatowns suffered similar declines in business during the SARS outbreak of 2003. Then, as now, some cities launched public service campaigns to help small businesses. The New York Post mocked New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio for struggling with chopsticks on a recent trip to Flushing’s Chinatown this week, but at least he’s trying to raise awareness.

”We need to fight stigma any way and anywhere we can,” texted my mother, an epidemiologist working in public health in Boston, when I asked her about the issue this week.

Even if the campaigns work, the drop in tourists from China alone will have a big negative impact on these small restaurants. So I’m taking a big group out to Flushing tonight. If you want some Chinatown recs, we’ve got you in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Vegas, Seattle, Houston, Boston, San Francisco, Philly, Montreal, London, Chicago, and Detroit.

(Hat tip to Adam Moussa, whose twitter thread inspired this newsletter topic.)

On Eater

A mound of coconut rice sits in the middle of a banana leaf cut to fit a plate. Small mounds of various pickles, stews, and snacks circle the rice, including a pickle of carrots and beans, a fried hard boiled egg in a spicy sambal, stewed beef rendang, little brown hunks of fried tempeh, and krupuk, colorful Indonesian crackers
Nasi lemak at Wajan
Dina Avila/EPDX

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