Review: _The Search for General Tso:_ a great film about a Chinese food classic
March 18, 2016 10:29pm CST
Walk into any Chinese restaurant in the States, and there is one dish that is common to every single one of them. General Tso's Chicken. And that name alone raises all sorts of new questions -- who was General Tso? Who invented the dish? And why is it so popular? Filmmaker Ian Cheney crosses the world looking for the answers to these questions. Starting with a photo session of the dish in a restaurant, we go on an adventure, first heading for China, and looking for the General. It turns out that there -really- was a General Tso, who fought during the Taiping rebellion in the nineteenth century, and had the reputation for winning every battle, and there are plenty of monuments and buildings dedicated to him in the province of Hunan. But, it seems, the culinary dish bears not a scrap of anything to do with the General. And, when shown pictures of the prepared dish, most Chinese shook their heads and dismissed it. So, where did General Tso's chicken come from? Just what is it -- for those who have never had it, it's quickly fried chicken in a light batter served in a sweet tangy sauce with hot peppers. And yes, it is good. It turns out to have ties to America's past, when the Chinese crossed the Pacific to the California gold fields, some pretty racist politics, and to a surprising modern twist. I really enjoyed this as I am a food junkie, and I'll watch pretty much anything having to do with food porn. I happen to really enjoy General Tso's chicken myself, and I found myself chuckling through this one. The filmmaking is clean, and not at all dull or boring. What is really fun are all the various Chinese restaurants across the States, and the various families and owners who fill the need for Chinese food. Some of the stories are rather sad, others are funny, and all of them a lot of fun to watch. I give this a solid five stars. The film itself is short, about an hour and fifteen minutes long. There's nothing at all offensive here, and if you're interested in food culture, definitely check this one out. I found it on Netflix, and there wasn't any problem in streaming it. Rebecca Huston asserts her rights as the sole owner of this review.
2 people like this
• Pleasant Hill, California
21 Mar 16
I like General Tso's Chicken! I heard somewhere that it's not quite authentic Chinese, but I can't cite the source. Now you've tepted me to check out the movie, though 1:15 about food might be a bit much for me. I was Horswispr over at Epinions, by the way.