General Tso’s chicken is s popular sweet deep-fried chicken dish that is served in North American Chinese restaurants. The dish is named after Zuo Zongtang (also romanized Tso Tsung-t’ang), a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader. However, there is no recorded connection to him nor is the dish known in Hunan, Zuo’s home province.
The dish is not found in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, or in Xiangyin County, where Zuo was born. Moreover, Zuo’s descendants in Xiangyin County, when interviewed, say that they never heard of such a dish.
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There’s a clear difference between a Chinese restaurant in China and an Chinese-American restaurant. Bring people straight from China into the latter, and most likely they will be terribly confused by all the zodiac placemats, fortune cookies, and dishes smothered by an extremely generous amount of corn starch. Even amongst Americans, there is still plenty of confusion. “Hey do you want some cream cheese wontons?”
Most of the dishes are revised versions of what’s in China—or don’t exist at all.
Some even say that the beef and broccoli dish did not exist in China. The fortune BTW was invented in San Francisco,California—true story. A lot of Chinese dishes undergo variations so as to suit the local tastes of the place that they get served to.
(What are Fortune Cookies anyway?)
I really like authentic ethnic foods. I am always on the look-out for restaurants that serve food this way. So far I’ve found a Mexican, Korean, and a Greek restaurant that serve authentic ethnic foods and there’re unforgettable. There’s something about cooks using real food to pass down real cultural traditions that adhere to the delight of the pallet!! To Kimchi! To eat kimchi is like getting to know a true taste of Korean culture!
I was stationed in Korea in 1969 and get Kimchi at Whole Foods often. At that time, Taegu City (now Daegu), was like living in the 19th century. There were no dogs on the streets: just dogs used for stir-fry dishes!
To be more authentic, you can query for Chinese restaurants with traditional fare.