Cathy Bao Bean Online
For Immediate Release 10/1/02
We Press announces

The Chopsticks Fork Principle: A Memoir and A Manual
by Cathy Bao Bean

For more information contact
We Press, Amy Hufnagel 908-684-3574      Email:
For personal appearances, contact author by telephone 908-852-7426,
or Email Cathy Bao Bean

Parenting by The Chopsticks-Fork Principle and Other Helpful Hints

The Chopsticks-Fork Principle, A Memoir and Manual written by Cathy Bao Bean is about how she and her husband, artist Bennett Bean, raised their son to be (at least) bicultural. The author relates how she, an immigrant from China, figured out how to be herself as well as raise a son whose father did things like paint the lawn.

Since 1986, We Press has promoted a range of cultural and multicultural writings. Bao Bean’s book is no exception. Rooted in the telling of one family’s life, the tale is a story to all families; it is a story about how to reconcile the expectations of (extended) families and society at large, and how to raise a child in a respectful context while also choosing the “path less traveled.” With race, class, and gender issues imbedded seamlessly within a narrative about satisfying disparate cultural “norms,” the reader is provided a unique window in which to peek upon the experience of a bicultural family; hybrids coming of age in the late twentieth century. In doing so, the reader finds not angst, but a lot of good cheer, and some wisdom. This is a book to give to sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers. The Chopsticks-Fork Principle will circulate as“cult classic” because of this family’s rare combinations, and as a “popular” listing because it deals with ordinary family issues in a practical way. The book is pure, it is heartfelt, it is important. Editor Amy Hufnagel says, “This book makes you laugh and wonder, maybe cry, and it will certainly charm and entertain you while you ponder your “knows.”

The book is a memoir. In the author’s words, “In 1959, when I was a Junior in Teaneck High School, I learned about Hybrid Vigor in Biology class. The idea was that when two different strains of corn were crossed, the result was greater than was normal for either parent type. In 1974, when I was a new mother in the maternity ward, I wondered if the same principle couldn't be deliberately applied to cultures - in our case, the Chinese and American. Physically we had the makings for such an experiment. Our newly born son was half Asian, half Caucasian. Intellectually, I formulated his prospects from the wealth of his dual heritage, translating his ancestors' stories into a future neither side could have imagined, yet both had anticipated to some degree. Practically, I worried just how much difference it would make that he wasn't an ear of corn.”

But the book is also a manual which explains how anyone who steps outside the home can benefit by greater awareness of the diversity within and around us because “The Politically Correct may have thrown out the ‘melting pot’ and replaced its brew with ‘tossed salad and dressing’ or ‘smorgasbord,’ but in their recommendations for society's diet, the menus never explain how we individual ingredients are to be grown and prepared.”

In Cathy Bao Bean’s book, she starts with “The Facts,” including:
• I was born, Bao Kwei-yee in the Year of the Water Horse, during the 77th or 78th Cycle (depending on which book you consult).
• Four years later, my parents, older sister, Bette, and I arrived in Brooklyn. My younger sister, SanSan, stayed in China.
• One day later, Bette and I were enrolled in Public School #8. I spoke no English. Bette could say "Lucky Strike" and "Shut up." The Principal let her skip 2 grades and made me do kindergarten twice.
• In 1949, we moved to Elmwood Park, NJ. I started to think in English and forget in Chinese.

The author then proceeds to tell “The Stories” of being a student in Teaneck, graduating from Tufts University and Claremont Graduate School, only to do the one thing that no parent of any culture ever recommends to their daughter -- marry an artist. After their son is born, Bao Bean begins to understand why they may have had a point and why she would never be bored. She also figures out:
• How to say “I love you” in English and in Chinese.
• Whether identity crises and toilet training are more stressful with or without a subconscious.
• If her Menopausal Theory of Cooking is gender specific.
• If the Tooth Fairy can survive The Melting Pot.

Cathy Bao Bean has been a daughter, business manager, aerobics instructor, mother, friend, writer, sister, educational consultant, wife, and activist for the NJ Council for the Humanities. In a previous incarnation, she was a Philosophy teacher, cook, student, carpool driver, as well as a member of the Society for Values in Higher Education and the Ridge and Valley Conservancy executive boards. Her book ends with the adding of another auspicious title: mother-in-law. None of it has been painless, but all of it has been fun, except the cooking.

For more information, visit the We Press web site:
Release date: December 1, 2002
Also available through:
Small Press Distribution 1341 Seventh Ave Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN # 0-9725663-0-9

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