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Thread: Five Beloved Ethnic Foods Invented for Americans

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    Elite Member hustle4alivin's Avatar
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    Default Five Beloved Ethnic Foods Invented for Americans

    5 Beloved Ethnic Foods Invented for Americans - Mental Floss

    1. General Tso's Chicken



    Who is General Tso and why is his chicken everywhere? No one seems to know. While there was a General Tso (or Zuo Zongtang) in 19th-century China, little about him suggested he was a whiz at whipping up deep-fried, sweet ‘n’ spicy chicken. Especially since, by the time it first appeared, he wouldn’t have been alive to taste it.

    An influx of Chinese immigrants to the United States in the early half of the 20th century created a need for somewhere to grab some Chinese cuisine. Ordinary Americans, however, didn’t cotton to traditional Hunan cuisine, so one enterprising chef (one Peng Chang-kuei, according to the claims) battered and deep-fried the chicken, and then added sugar to offset the spicy element. Thus, General Tso’s Chicken was born.

    2. Nachos



    Sure, tortillas are a Mexican thing, but tortilla chips–and the practice of putting random toppings on them—that’s all-American, baby. Tortilla chips came out of the true mother of invention: needing to sell leftover scraps. The El Zarape Tortilla Factory took their misshapen and unsellable tortillas, cut them up, fried them and sold them for a dime a bag. One man’s trash is another man’s golden fried treasure.

    The combination of tortilla chips and melted cheese, however, took place in a Mexican border town. As the story goes, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, maître d’ of the Victory Club, was closing up the restaurant when a dozen wives of U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan across the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, wandered in after a day of across-the-border shopping. Having little to offer, Anaya ran back to the kitchen and threw together chips, cheese and sliced jalapeno. When the delighted ladies asked the name of the dish, Anaya proclaimed, “Nacho’s especiales.” The dish became so popular that Anaya gave up the maître d’ life to open his own Nacho restaurant. The invention of Nacho-flavored spray cheese is a story for another day.

    3. Cashew Chicken




    This Chinese restaurant staple can be traced back to the least Chinese of places: Springfield, Missouri. Chef David Leong, who emigrated from China to Missouri in 1940, struggled to turn his fellow Missourians onto traditional Chinese cuisine. Then he noticed how much the people of Missouri loved their fried chicken. Leong deep-fried chunks of chicken, tossed some oyster sauce and cashews on top and suddenly had a winner. Most places you go now offer the non deep-fried variation. Ask for “Springfield-style Cashew Chicken” and you’ll get the battered and deep-fried original.


    4. Spaghetti With Meatballs and Garlic Bread



    Sure, you will find spaghetti noodles in Italy. Red sauce and meatballs too—though not the comically oversized meatballs Americans are accustomed to. What you’ll have a harder time finding in Italy is the combination of all three on one plate.

    As for garlic bread, the closest thing Italians have to it is bruschetta. After WWII, returning soldiers came back with a hankering for the wondrous bread they enjoyed abroad. To meet the new demand, American restaurants whipped up their own version: toasted white bread with garlic and margarine.

    5. Fortune Cookies



    The humble fortune cookie has a number of origin stories, none of them beginning in China. Some say it was invented in Los Angeles by baker David Jung back in 1918. He handed out the cookies to homeless people, each containing an uplifting biblical passage within.

    Another tale claims the prophesizing pastries came from Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara. In 1907, Mayor of San Francisco James Phelan fired Hagiwara for the offense of being Japanese. A public outcry followed and when Hagiwara was reinstated, he supposedly created little cookies with “Thank You” messages tucked inside for all the people of San Francisco.

    What is known for sure is the Lotus Fortune Cookie Company began spitting out the machine-made edible oracles by the late 1960s. China didn’t get a taste of the fortune cookie until it came to the country in 1993, sold as “genuine American fortune cookies,” and thus cementing the cookie’s place in fake Chinese lore.

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    ^yep, I'm a sucker for all those things. I'm kind of pissed off that I've never had cashew chicken with deep-fried chicken. It's usually just sauteed and bland whenever I get it, so I usually don't get that one.

    I love the story about the "genuine American fortune cookies"!
    "AND WHEN YOU BECAME DENISE, I TOLD ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES, THOSE CLOWN COMICS, TO FIX THEIR HEARTS OR DIE."

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    General Tso chicken is sweet enough to be served for dessert. I loathe it!
    Now nachos I LOVE. Real Mexican or not!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Usually someone else at the table orders the General Tso, but I thought it was really spicy with red chilies in it and everything? Maybe I'm confusing that with other chicken dishes that I actually like better.
    "AND WHEN YOU BECAME DENISE, I TOLD ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES, THOSE CLOWN COMICS, TO FIX THEIR HEARTS OR DIE."

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    All General Tso chicken I have ever had was spicy.
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    ^Same here. Every time I've gotten it, though that's not often, it's been spicy.

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    Elite Member Seth82's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancydrew View Post
    All General Tso chicken I have ever had was spicy.
    same here
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    A*O
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    General Tso chicken must indeed be a specifically American thing as I've never seen it on any Aussie or UK chinese menu. Thank God.

    Wasn't chop suey (or chow mein, can't remember) invented in San Francisco during the gold rush?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterslide View Post
    Usually someone else at the table orders the General Tso, but I thought it was really spicy with red chilies in it and everything? Maybe I'm confusing that with other chicken dishes that I actually like better.
    Quote Originally Posted by nancydrew View Post
    All General Tso chicken I have ever had was spicy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brah View Post
    ^Same here. Every time I've gotten it, though that's not often, it's been spicy.
    It is spicy. Like eating ice cream with hot peppers. Ugg.
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    ^ So General Tso chicken is different to Sweet and Sour chicken coz that's what it sounded like? Never heard of it.

    This thread is making me hungry, I would eat all those things except for that nasty orange American nacho cheese.
    And so, I will keep fighting to make the US a more progressive, multi-cultural country, and my fight starts on GossipRocks - mikesandy

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    General Tso chicken must indeed be a specifically American thing as I've never seen it on any Aussie or UK chinese menu. Thank God.

    Wasn't chop suey (or chow mein, can't remember) invented in San Francisco during the gold rush?
    Yes, chop suey was invented in San Francisco I believe. I like General Tso chicken, but I like anything crunchy, salty and spicy.

    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    It is spicy. Like eating ice cream with hot peppers. Ugg.
    McJag! lol, Are you sure? It's usually spicy over sweet, I think. When I think of Tso chicken, I think of the multiple chili peppers next to it on the menu, and blowing your head off spiciness when you eat it. I think moo shu dishes are sweet, but I like that one. Do you think it's as sweet as that? I didn't think General Tso was the sweetest one compared to moo shu, etc. I think there is Chinese food that's even sweeter than that that I don't (personally) find that cloyingly sweet.

    edit: I do think "sweet and sour" anything is a crap shoot. Sometimes it's great and sometimes it's like they coated it in a sugar glaze before serving. Depends on the restaurant for me.
    Last edited by Waterslide; June 16th, 2012 at 01:35 AM. Reason: added something
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterslide View Post


    McJag! lol, Are you sure? It's usually spicy over sweet, I think. When I think of Tso chicken, I think of the multiple chili peppers next to it on the menu, and blowing your head off spiciness when you eat it. I think moo shu dishes are sweet, but I like that one. Do you think it's as sweet as that? I didn't think General Tso was the sweetest one compared to moo shu, etc. I think there is Chinese food that's even sweeter than that that I don't (personally) find that cloyingly sweet.

    edit: I do think "sweet and sour" anything is a crap shoot. Sometimes it's great and sometimes it's like they coated it in a sugar glaze before serving. Depends on the restaurant for me.
    Yes, I do! My Mom & sister love it and it would simplify things if I could stand it, but no! To me it is as sweet as pie with hot peppers thrown in.
    No amount of spice can hide that ton of sugar.
    I think it was A0 who once said Americans eat too much sugar and I agree! That is because I can't stand sweet mixed with savory. My taste buds can spot sugar a mile away!
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    mmmmmmmm, nachos.
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    General Tso chicken is basically kung po chicken with broccoli added, I dunno how legit kung po is either though!
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    czb
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    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    . . .That is because I can't stand sweet mixed with savory. My taste buds can spot sugar a mile away!
    i don't like sweet and savory together, either. and the chinese restaurants i go to don't serve gen tso chicken so have never tasted it.

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