The local Chinese buffet features boiled crawfish alongside Chinese buffet standards.

I think the boiled shrimp stand a chance of Chinese ethnic authenticity alongside the mussels on the layout at New Peking Chinese Buffet in Eunice (Cajun Country), Louisiana.  But the boiled crawfish?

No way I’ll call those “Chinese boiled crawfish.”

These local Chinese entrepreneurs simply understand what they need to do to appease local taste buds to keep the Cajuns coming back.  And in this crawfish season of the year, that means serving Cajun-styled boiled crawfish right alongside mussels and General Tso’s chicken.

On another part of the buffet, for that matter, I noticed pizza, fried onion rings (the processed frozen food kind), and French fries.

Is there such a thing as Chinese pizza?  Chinese fried onion rings?  Chinese French fries?

This makes me wonder if I went to a Chinese buffet in Philadelphia, would I find Chinese Philly Cheese Steak?  Or if I went to Jackson, Mississippi, would I find Chinese fried okra and grits?  Or if I went to South Texas, would I find Chinese tamales or tacos?

In the end, here’s the question: Is there really such a thing as “Chinese food” on an American Chinese buffet spread?  My theory is that the Chinese buffet menu has become an ethnic genre of its own: part Chinese, part American, but full-blooded capitalistic opportunist.

Of course, I’m not complaining, just offering some observations.  As long as the price is right and the food is tasty, of course, I’ll keep going back to New Peking, the Sunday-after-church-place to get boiled Cajun crawfish with egg fu yung on the side in Eunice, Prairie Cajun Capitol of the World, Louisiana.

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