Chinese-American cuisine in the United States revolves around one dish: General Tso’s Chicken. But where did the dish originate, and who is General Tso?
That is the pressing question in the documentary “The Search for General Tso,” which is having its world premier at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, April 20. The filmmaker Ian Cheney, with producers Jennifer 8. Lee and Amanda Murray, uncover the history of the dish. In doing so, they reveal the remarkable journeys taken by Chinese immigrants in America.
Cheney was inspired to make the film after pulling off a highway “somewhere in Ohio” a decade ago, and the only place that was open was a Chinese restaurant. He and a friend ordered “the usual: General Tso’s Chicken.”
“Something about the loneliness of this neon-signed outpost in the middle of Ohio, together with the deliciousness of the chicken, made us suddenly wonder: who the heck was General Tso, and why – in nearly every small town and big city in America – are we all eating his chicken?”, Cheney wrote in an email en route to the festival.
Here are seven things you might not know about General Tso and his chicken dish, plucked from the documentary.