Fresh Off the Boat

Fresh Off the Boat

A Memoir

Book - 2013
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Random House, Inc.
“Long before I met him, I was a fan of his writing, and his merciless wit. He’s bigger than food.”—Anthony Bourdain


Eddie Huang is the thirty-year-old proprietor of Baohaus—the hot East Village hangout where foodies, stoners, and students come to stuff their faces with delicious Taiwanese street food late into the night—and one of the food world’s brightest and most controversial young stars. But before he created the perfect home for himself in a small patch of downtown New York, Eddie wandered the American wilderness looking for a place to call his own.

Eddie grew up in theme-park America, on a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac in suburban Orlando, raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) hustlers and hysterics from Taiwan. While his father improbably launched a series of successful seafood and steak restaurants, Eddie burned his way through American culture, defying every “model minority” stereotype along the way. He obsessed over football, fought the all-American boys who called him a chink, partied like a gremlin, sold drugs with his crew, and idolized Tupac. His anchor through it all was food—from making Southern ribs with the Haitian cooks in his dad’s restaurant to preparing traditional meals in his mother’s kitchen to haunting the midnight markets of Taipei when he was shipped off to the homeland. After misadventures as an unlikely lawyer, street fashion renegade, and stand-up comic, Eddie finally threw everything he loved—past and present, family and food—into his own restaurant, bringing together a legacy stretching back to China and the shards of global culture he’d melded into his own identity.

Funny, raw, and moving, and told in an irrepressibly alive and original voice, Fresh Off the Boat recasts the immigrant’s story for the twenty-first century. It’s a story of food, family, and the forging of a new notion of what it means to be American.

Praise for Fresh Off the Boat

“Brash and funny . . . outrageous, courageous, moving, ironic and true.”New York Times Book Review

“Bawdy and frequently hilarious . . . a surprisingly sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America . . . as much James Baldwin and Jay-Z as Amy Tan . . . rowdy [and] vital . . . It’s a book about fitting in by not fitting in at all.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Uproariously funny . . . emotionally honest.”Chicago Tribune

“Huang is a fearless raconteur. [His] writing is at once hilarious and provocative; his incisive wit pulls through like a perfect plate of dan dan noodles.”Interview

“Although writing a memoir is an audacious act for a thirty-year-old, it is not nearly as audacious as some of the things Huang did and survived even earlier. . . . Whatever he ends up doing, you can be sure it won’t look or sound like anything that’s come before. A single, kinetic passage from Fresh Off the Boat . . . is all you need to get that straight.”—Bookforum

Baker & Taylor
A Taiwanese-American rebel restaurateur chronicles his rise to success from his difficult childhood in the American South to his decision to embrace all he had learned about food in his father's restaurants and his mother's kitchen to create his own culinary identity.

& Taylor

A Taiwanese-American rebel restaurateur chronicles his rise to success from his difficult childhood in the American South to his turn as a drug dealer who embraced rap culture and more.

Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780679644880
Branch Call Number: B HUANG
Characteristics: p. cm


From the critics

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Jun 02, 2019

“There have to be other people as confused about being American as I am.”

That’s the path of discovery Eddie Huang (EH) leads us down along his journey as a super bright, curious Chinese kid growing up in America in the 1980’s. As a small child he was surrounded by cousins/Aunties/Uncles in DC, “the family was bigger than any religion or government”.

Then they moved to Orlando where Chinese kids were “Herbs”, worthy of being mocked. This was a rude awakening. It was “you, yourself, and I” for any other Chinese kids. EH was sent to school every day with a Chinese lunch. He was the third grade stinky (lunch) kid who wanted a white (kid) lunch. EH endured “relentless food shaming” through his grade school years. At 9 years old, he has his first fight in school. Another kid called him chink. In time though there was “no more ching chong Eddie Wong”. His two younger brothers, Emery and Everett, were bright and rambunctious too as EH reminisces about outrageous tricks they played on each other.

He really cares about food. EH loved flavors, eating and cooking authentic Chinese food even as a kid. “Good food makes me want to hit a punching bag” – that’s love. He shares his universal food truths such as - Food at its’ best uplifts the whole community…Patience – attention – restraint are all you need in cooking…The greatest lessons I learned about cooking was the technique. The way EH spoke as he shared his beef noodle soup recipe was very personal as he coached us, the listeners, through the process.

“…the person I am in my head is something entirely different than what everyone else sees. That the way I look will prevent me from doing what I want.” This realization comes through again and again as he strives toward career goals as sports commentator, lawyer, entrepreneur, restaurateur, author…but he doesn’t let that get in his way.

As reader (and author), Eddie Huang is a great storyteller and has a great story to tell. He is relaxed and intimate, energetic where the tale merits. As EH reads, he chuckles at his own stories which add to the pleasure of listening to his story.

He likes food. He likes thinking about it. He likes talking about it. He likes cooking it. He likes eating it. That’s all my kind of fun. This book is filled with such good descriptions of place and people. It brings you right into the story. He also shares amazing cooking tips and opinions such as “let the meat speak” (don’t cover the meat in sauces and seasonings) – true! If you love food and have a soft spot for coming of age stories about rambunctious rascal kids this book is for you! It’s a feast!

Sep 27, 2018

"We weren't Americans like everyone else. We'd always be the other in this bull**** country." Memoir by Eddie Huang, who runs the restaurant Baohaus (Get it?). I'm a fan of the show that's based on his book, but there are quite a few differences. Huang's book is rougher and rawer than the show. His parents were verbally and emotionally abusive, he got kicked out of school multiple times, was frequently in trouble, got into fights, and was even arrested. The book could've used some judicious editing and his voice, which employs a vulgar, hip-hop vernacular, can get a little offputting. Still, if you like the show, check it out. Also, representation matters.

Jul 18, 2016

Fresh. Love Eddie's style and hubris.

Jun 27, 2016

My man Eddie keeps it real and cuts no corners talking about growing up in the Orlando area. Really funny, deeply personal, and introspective on a number of levels.

Jul 20, 2015

This disjointed book follows Eddie as he grows up in Florida and later tries out numerous jobs; drug dealer, fashion designer, lawyer, stand-up comic, writer, and chef. The two halves of the book don’t seem to fit together. The beginning is all about his childhood friends and the fights they got into in Florida. The second half turns into a foodie memoir with incredibly detailed descriptions of the food served in his restaurant. There are moments of sincerity and insightfulness in this book, but not nearly enough.

Jan 22, 2015

Colorful "unconventional" American born Taiwanese immigrant who grew up or educated in Pittsburgh, Virginia, Orlando and NYC, made it big in NYC's Asian food scene 5 days before his 28th birthday.
Fresh Off the Boat premieres on Feb. 4: Eddie Huang is a is a renaissance man with a string of careers: lawyer, TV host, restaurateur and author. His raw, funny and sometimes extremely profane memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, came out two years ago. It's a brutally honest story about his life as an Asian-American kid, reconciling two cultures.

Jan 16, 2014

This is an interesting story about a young man whose parents came from China, and became, through hard work, successful restaurant owners. Their son, though, is another story. He gets into nothing but trouble in school, feeling disenfranchised by The American Dream even though his parents are living proof of that dream, and he benefitted from it at all times. He goes through many tribulations of his own devices; graduates from law school only to become, like his father, a restaurant owner. His love of food is apparent; his love of minor criminal activity is also. What undoes him is his love of street slang (which is inappropriately funny; many of us have met that person from another language who has picked up so much American slang that they become almost completely impossible to understand, and this guy is him!) He is really focused on being COOL, which is hilarious in anyone over 18, and he is still carrying this banner into his 30's! The way this story is written will make it a classic many years from now, as an archaic example of early 2000's slang, which, I suppose, makes this book worth reading?

Jun 29, 2013

I really enjoyed reading about Huang's experiences as an Asian American, his critical comments about racism, his voice, which ranges from academic to street. I was hoping for more of a food memoir than a coming-of-age memoir, but it was still a fun ride.


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Jan 22, 2015

I was a Chinese-American kid raised by hip-hop and basketball with screaming, yelling, abusive parents in the background. If that makes me a rotten banana, well, tell it like it is.
From the people at Christian Fellowship to First Academy to my parents to Confucius to thousands of years of ass-backwards Chinese thinking, I knew how it felt. Everything my parents did to me and their parents did to them was justified under the banner of Tradition, Family, and Culture.
Important distinction. Note that I say “a voice” not “the voice.” I don’t speak for all Asian Americans, I speak for a few rotten bananas like me.

Jan 22, 2015

My mom always wanted to send food back. Everything on the side, some things hot, some things cold, no MSG, less oil, more chilis, oh, and some vinegar please. Black vinegar with green chilis if you have it, if not, red vinegar with ginger, and if you don’t have that, then just white vinegar by itself and a can of Coke, not diet because diet causes cancer.
sell. I spent the first five years of my life handcuffed to a playpen in the middle of this mini-mall furniture-store office. Before I even knew about guns, I was trying to shoot myself.


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Jan 16, 2014

DellaV thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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