Sichuan cuisine (Chengdu greetings); Chinese English

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Sep 18 15:21:32 UTC 2002

According to The Definitive General Tso's Chicken Page
(, the dish was probably invented
in the US in the mid-70s. Many other Webpages say General Tso's
(Tsao's/Tsung's) chicken is a US dish. (To aid the search just in case,
though, I found his name in pinyin as Zuo Zongtang.)

"My theory: It was invented in the mid-1970's, in NYC, by one Chef Peng.
Chinese food in New York was different in the early '70s; while there
were a quite a few Chinese restaurants around, they were all Cantonese.
Bland food, served in a decor straight out of the 1950's (think: Too
much RED).

"Around 1974, Hunan and Szechuan food were introduced to the city, and
General Tso's Chicken was an exemplar of the new style. Peng's, on East
44th Street, was the first restaurant in NYC to serve it, and since the
dish (and cuisine) were new, Chef Peng was able to make it a House
Specialty, in spite of its commonplace ingredients.

"Now, of course, the Szechuan/Hunan style has almost completely taken
over New York City Chinese food (you can still find Cantonese food, but
you have to really try). General Tso's Chicken is still a house
specialty (since every Chinese restaurant, even the $4.99 Lunch Special
places, copied Peng's menu), and the staff still laughs behind your back
every time you eat one of the hot peppers by accident."

On other page
(, Michael
Browning offers (1) a separate origin of the dish

"The details of Tso's life are easy to document. But how the chicken got
named for him is another matter. In "Chinese Kitchen" (Morrow, 1999),
author Eileen Yin-Fei Lo says that dish is a Hunan classic called 'chung
ton gai,' or 'ancestor meeting place chicken.'"

and (2) a separate etymology

"My own research led me to the same city, but a different Manhattan
restaurateur, who claims the dish is the brilliant invention of his
former partner, a gifted Chinese immigrant chef named T.T. Wang."

Benjamin Barrett

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Bapopik at AOL.COM
SICHUAN CUISINE--I'll have a lot of it in Lhasa.  I jokingly asked my
tour guide (a native of here, and never in the U.S.) about "egg rolls"
and "fortune cookies."  He'd never heard of either of them!  I also
asked about "General Tso's/Gau's/Chang's chicken."  He'd never heard of
that, either!

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