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General Tso's Book
on August 1, 2017
American Chinese food is, to me, a fascinating concept as it’s neither American nor Chinese – as the author found when she tried to trace General Tso in his home town and found the military hero, not the culinary genius. This book almost couldn’t have been written without the show and tell of digital photography where she used her camera to show various dishes as she tried to track them across China. This coming from a woman who spoke Mandarin was essential as I don’t think she’d have gotten half the stories she did without that tie.
I loved the two-fold premise of the book, tracking the iconic fortune cookie from its creation in Japan, or maybe Korea, or possibly even California to the winning lottery tickets as well as the author’s own heritage. Her early chapters, and the final wrap including her father, who was “a PhD away from being a delivery man” being admonished not to leave menus when he brought food to a sick friend, reminded me a little of Steven Shaw’s Setting the Table as he was also a fan of Upper West Side Chinese. The book perfectly toed the line between memoirs and food & travel writing and is a fit for fans of both genres.
I especially enjoyed her trip around the world to find the “best” Chinese food. Such a fun part of travel. Although I’m not personally a huge fan of Chinese food, I might have to sample more of it.