The Search for General Tso
Monday, October 29, 2018
As much an immigration history as a culinary detective story, this ebullient documentary uses the ubiquitous Americanized dish, General Tso's chicken, as a lens onto a larger story of immigration, adaptation and innovation to American popular culture. Early on, the film poses the question, "If Chinese Americans comprise only 1% of the U.S. population, why are there Chinese restaurants in almost every city across America?" The filmmakers seek the answer in a journey through the Chinese American experience from the Gold Rush and the building of the railroads to the age of Panda Express. On-air historians, chefs, writers and enthusiasts provide accounts of the history of Chinese migration to America; the discriminatory 1880's Chinese Exclusion Act that forced emigrants out of the labor market and into small business ownership; the modification of ‘exotic' Chinese cuisine for American tastes; and the role of Chinese American community organizations in the dissemination of restaurants to the far corners of the nation to avoid competition and discrimination on the West Coast.