If the Chinese food that you have eaten at a Chinese restaurant in either Europe or in the United states is not Chinese at all. Its not the kind of food you will find in China for sure. The popular Chinese food that you would look to order in China is not even on the menu. The western version of the Chinese food is the one with a lot of meat and spices. The actual Chinese version is more Vegetable based and with a much more neutral taste. Lets look at some so called Chinese food that you wont even find in China.
General Tso’s chicken
This dish has some connection with Hunanese cuisine, but is not. It’s named after General Tso Tsung-tang, a Qing dynasty general and statesman, not sure why though. The current version of this Chinese food can be traced back to 1970 when it was prepared by a Chinese chef Tsung Ting Wang in New York. It is served across almost all Chinese restaurants in the US and is surely one of America’s favorite Chinese food. Its is a battered, sweet and spicy fried chicken that’s high in calories.
A dish that was gifted by Victor Bergeron in the 1940’s. He was also the founder of Trader Vic’s Tiki bars, which years later inspired the Trader Joe’s supermarkets. He packed the two subtle tastes of Cheese and crab, had it wrapped in wanton and deep fired it. So it’s a complete American creation (mostly east coast) and has no Chinese connection. Further to that, its named Crab Rangoon and Rangoon is in Bhutan and not China (Rangoon is the old name for the current capital of Bhutan, Myanmar). Not sure about the Rangoon connection.
Well, there is nothing Chinese in fortune cookies except that it is so commonly served in Chinese restaurants. Yasuko Nakamichi, a Japanese food scholar, after years of travelling to get to the bottom of this, found the city of Kyoto to hold the inspiration. These cookies were found to have small piece of paper with poetic verses or sentences. These were found to be much larger that what we see today and made out of Sesame and Miso as opposed to the vanilla version that we see today.
The name of this Chinese food is derived from a Cantonese word meaning “assorted pieces”. It can be traced to Chinese immigrants from Taishan province of Guangdong. Yet another story about the origin of this American Chinese food takes us to San Francisco. This Chinese restaurant in San Francisco served this dish with left overs to the drunk and tired miners during the Gold Rush. Wherever the search for the origin of this Chinese food takes you, it wont take you to China for sure.
Sweet and sour pork
This dish is actually somewhat close to something you may find in China as it is seen to have a Cantonese influence. This is the west worlds take on the Chinese food sweet and sour fish. The big difference is the sauce though. The sweet and sour sauce is definitely sweeter than anything that you can find in China. Moreover, the American version uses tomato paste which is not used in Chinese version of the sauce. Other than that, it is battered and deep-fried nuggets of pork that are tossed in this sweet and sour sauce.
For some more read on food around the world, visit Global Edible.