Chinese Southern Belle (CSB) is a mother-daughter multi-faceted business that uses food to connect people and culture– to build healthy, sustainable communities, support diversity, and strong local economies.
I’m Natalie. As the third daughter (considered unlucky in a Chinese family), I was very lucky to be born closer to Canton, GA rather than Canton, China. My parents immigrated early to Atlanta on graduate school scholarships, before we hosted the Olympics and before the Braves started winning as America’s Team (!) As the only Asian family in the neighborhood in which we grew up, my sisters and I learned quickly about “being different.”
We attended football pep rallies and played PacMan, but were fined a dime for every English word spoken at home. Dad listened to Johnny Cash tunes and preferred hamburgers to Chinese food when eating out. Mom whipped up amazing stir-fries and country Asian creations like Hot Hunan Catfish, Pepper Steak Rice-a-Roni, and Five-Spice Rutabaga in a blazing hot, cast iron skillet. Between the worlds of egg rolls and fried chicken, we felt right at home.
The family stories and recipes of how one Asian American family thrived and adapted to the ways of the Deep South are shared in the spirit of food as a cultural gateway and a political olive branch. Fun, memorable eating and cooking experiences break down barriers and stereotypes around the unfamiliar, and instead, reminds us of values we all hold dear – good food, good health, and community. From urban food deserts to state dinners, I believe with all my heart (and tummy) that the experience of breaking bread, challah, injeera, or bahn mi—together– is the starting point, and best hope for achieving healthy, livable and sustainable communities, and yes, world peace.