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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Search for General Tso: Movie Review

New Year’s Day is a traditional time to go see a movie, but if you can wait a little longer, I highly recommend checking out The Search for General Tso, which begins a theatrical release as well as being available on video on demand January 2nd, 2015. It’s a documentary about the origins and popularity of General Tso’s chicken, a dish that has practically become as American as apple pie. But even if you know the basics about the dish—where it came from and why it’s named after the general—this documentary is well worth watching.

The film covers Chinese immigration to the US, a bit about Chinese American culture, Chinese American food and has interviews from noteworthy authors and Chinese food experts like Fuchsia Dunlop and Jennifer 8. Lee (author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles and also producer of the film) and iconic restaurateurs including Philip and Cecilia Chiang, Michael Tong of Shun Lee and Chef Peng, who actually originated the dish. 

It’s a very entertaining film, but it also touches on more serious topics like authenticity, discrimination and politics. It’s about a dish that’s popular in the US, but the filmmakers travel to China and Taiwan to get the whole story. The movie is full length, but fast paced and there are fun little animated bits as well. Just plan on going out for Chinese food afterwards, because I can guarantee you will be craving it after seeing the film! 

A side note, many people may know about the tradition of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas, but this year some really wonderful articles covered the phenomenon in detail. I particularly enjoyed reading Why Do American Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas? in the The Atlantic and also The War on Jewish Christmas Must Be Stopped in Washington Post.

Happy New Year!