The history behind one of the most popular Chinese-American dishes is explored in The Search for General Tso. The sweet and spicy dish “General Tso’s Chicken” has become one of the most popular items on Chinese take-out menus all across North America. However, the question has to be asked “Who was General Tso and why is there a chicken dish named after him?” The Search for General Tso sets out to answer this question and, in doing so, explores the evolution of Chinese-American cuisine, where traditional Chinese recipes were adapted to meet American tastes.
When someone orders Chinese take-out, it is quite likely that they do not stop to think that the dishes that they are ordering are not really that representative of traditional Chinese cooking. What has become known as Chinese-American cuisine has evolved over years of Chinese recipes being adapted to meet American tastes. Running restaurants were one of the only options for Chinese immigrants and dishes, such as Chop Suey, were invented to meet the tastes of their American customers. General Tso’s Chicken was added to menus quite late in the game, but it has since become the most ordered item.
The Search for General Tso is laced with humour throughout, particularly when it comes to what traditional Chinese individuals think of Chinese-American cuisine. There is particularly funny moment in the film involving a man and a fortune cookie. It turns out that General Tso was indeed a real individual, however it is unknown whether he would have appreciated a sweet and spicy chicken dish being named after him. Altogether, The Search for General Tso is a funny and charming documentary, which will likely leave you craving a plate of General Tso’s Chicken afterwards.
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- Thursday, February 5, 6:45 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema