The Search for General Tso

When we finished with the rehearsal for Rachel’s wedding last November, the party headed out for the dinner at NBC Seafood Company in Pasadena. Just looking at the name of the restaurant on the wedding weekend time line, I assumed that it was some sort of fish and seafood restaurant. I was wrong.

When we arrived, it turned out that it was actually a Chinese restaurant. And by Chinese, I mean authentic Chinese. Not the cuisine we grew up with at the Beijing Palace, my friend Saba put it this way as we were driving back to the hotel after dinner, “That restaurant was so Chinese, we needed our passports to get there!”

Saturday night, Mo and I decided to find a documentary to watch. We were originally looking for something on Alaska when we came across Searching for General Tso. Given that we both love eating Chinese food, and particularly General Tso’s tofu (the vegetarian friendly alternative to chicken that did receive a shout out at the end of the film), we figured that it would be worth checking out. Our hunch was accurate.

The documentary looks at General Tso’s Chicken, a mainstay at pretty much any Chinese restaurant in the United States, except, of course, the NBC Seafood Company, an establishment too authentic to have such an Americanized dish. Which was precisely one of the many interesting points that the film made.

This documentary is great for people with varying interests: history, food, American and immigrant culture, business, intellectual property, and random tidbits of information in general. I was especially interested in the exploration of the immigrant experience in the United States, and how Chinese established themselves in a culture that made it as hard as possible for them to assimilate.

We could not stop talking about the documentary afterward, which led to cravings for some General Tso. To commemorate our viewing of this documentary, we went to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner last night and ordered General Tso’s Veggie Chicken. And it was as tasty as the documentary notes. I think it is perhaps one of our favorite American foods.

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