The history of General Tso’s Chicken
I just came across this story (http://goo.gl/EbqP) today, and given my name, and given that I fancy myself a bit of a foodie, who could resist? (Not that I considered the deep-fried, dunked-in-sugar-syrup mess that passes for General Tso’s chicken in most fast food Chinese restaurants to be gourmet food, mind you!)
Here’s the first thing you should know: The general had nothing to do with his chicken. You can banish any stories of him stir-frying over the flames of the cities he burned, or heartbreaking tales of a last supper, prepared with blind courage, under attack from overwhelming hordes. Unlike the amoeba-like mythologies that follow so many traditional dishes, the story of General Tso’s chicken is compellingly simple. One man, Peng Chang-kuei — very old but still alive — invented it.
But what’s “it”? Because while chef Peng is universally credited with inventing a dish called General Tso’s chicken, he probably wouldn’t recognize the crisp, sweet, red nuggets you get with pork fried rice for $4.95 with a choice of soda or soup. All that happened under his nose. It all got away from him…