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"The Search for General Tso": A Movie Good Enough to Order Drunk on a Sunday Night 

Wednesday, Jan 14 2015

You've probably ordered it before, and if you're vegetarian you probably had it before you kicked fowl, and/or you've tried a meatless variety: General Tso's Chicken. The spelling of "Tso" varies, and it's often shortened to "General's Chicken" or "General," but it's a staple on Chinese menus across America. Ian Cheney's entertaining documentary The Search for General Tso asks the inherent question behind the sweet-and-spicy dish: General Who, now? And is this really, like, his chicken? Cheney bounces all over time and space trying to find the answer; perhaps unsurprisingly, it's very difficult to find General Tso's Chicken in China, and the stewards of Tso's heritage have mixed feelings about that being his legacy. The breezy The Search for General Tso is also a history of the Chinese immigrant experience in America, as the way into the hearts of xenophobic white Americans was through their stomachs, especially their love of deep-fried meat drenched in sauce. Of particular note is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which is every bit as racist as it sounds, and which led to Chinese people — and their restaurants, among the only work they could get — spreading across the country to escape the worst persecution right here in California. It's a sad truth that can make you lose your appetite.


About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly


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