Food offers a bridge between distant cultures in Buenos Aires’ Chinatown

By Valerie Shuang Chen, Shijia (Miley) Sun and Tianqi Gou
Medill Reports


Argentina is the furthest country in the world away from China, and the differences are immediately noticeable to a Chinese reporter. From vibrant street murals, to stifling heat, the city combines faded European architecture with Latin passion.

But we found home here in Chinatown.

Chinese immigrants first moved to this part of the city in the 1980s. It’s kind of hard to imagine how they first settled down, in a faraway country where meat is the only meal, dinner starts at nine, and everyone around you is speaking Spanish. But they found their way to tantalize the Argentine’s taste buds with supermarkets and restaurants.

In this video story, Tianqi Gou meets Karina Gao, who immigrated to Argentina at the age of nine. She runs her own blog called Palitos de Bambu, or bamboo shoots.  It features Argentinian and Chinese recipes.

Gao is known to many here for her appearances on a cooking reality show. Her background and expertise help her demonstrate and write about the cuisines of both cultures.

Tianqi also visits Todos Contentos, one of the oldest restaurants in Buenos Aires’ Chinatown. It opened in 1986 and restaurateur Yie Pi Sia is an institution in the neighborhood.

In the conversations, we see how food, carrying the flavor of our memories and the taste of home, is the best pill to cure homesickness and a great way to build culinary connections between divergent cultures.

Photo at top: Blogger, food writer and television personality Karina Gao shops at one of the oldest supermarkets in Chinatown in Buenos Aires on February 13, 2019 (Valerie Chen and Miley Sun/MEDILL)