New Doc Film On The Phenomenon Of ‘Westernized’ Chinese Food

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(via) Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ian Cheney premiered his latest work, The Search For General Tso, last month at the Tribeca Film Festival. Through the prisms of old and modern menus found in myriad malls, delivery joints and Chinatowns, the new documentary examines the history and cultural/culinary phenomenon of Westernized Chinese food, specifically the origins of the ubiquitous American favourite: General Tso’s Chicken. Watch the trailer above…

Anchoring the film is an upbeat quest, through small towns and big cities across America and beyond, to understand the origins and popularity of Chinese American food and its top-selling dish. Who was General Tso? And why do nearly fifty thousand restaurants serve deep-fried chicken bearing his name? Using this Americanized dish and its mysterious mastermind as a lens onto a larger story of immigration, adaptation, and innovation, the film follows a lighthearted journey, grounded in cultural and culinary history, through restaurants, Chinatowns, and the American imagination. Visits to present-day Chinese restaurants spark forays into the past, guided by chefs, scholars, and the occasional opinionated customer. The film’s lively soundtrack and shadow-puppet animations contribute both whimsy and momentum, as viewers find they’re on a search to answer a deeper question: how did America’s Chinese food become so… American?

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