The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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  • General Tso

    Chef Peng, creator of General Tso’s chicken, passes away

    Friday, December 2nd, 2016

    I knew this day was going to come. And in fact as surprised how long he lasted, since we rushed to film him for our documentary when he was 91. But Chef Peng, our famed creator of General Tso’s chicken passed away at age 97. I was in the middle of the Nieman Foundation board […]

    The Search for General Tso. In Theaters January 2, 2015!

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    Happy to say that The Search for General Tso has been acquired by IFC/Sundance for distribution and will be in theaters (and VOD) on January 2, 2015. Director Ian Cheney did a great job of shepherding through the film, which was repped by Cinetic Media, of indie film fame. Here is the trailer below. Plus […]

    Star Trek Meets Chinese Food: Make it Tso

    Thursday, April 7th, 2011

    Sent to me by David Lefer.

    The original General Tso’s chicken

    Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

    In all its glory, from Peng’s Agora Garden in Taipei. We filmed it very carefully.

    General Tso’s Potato Chips, Now Available at Target

    Sunday, August 8th, 2010

    My friend Ross Baird sent in a photo of General Tso’s Thick Cut Potato Chips from a Target in Atlanta. The general continues his product expansion.

    Mother Goose and Grimm Imagines General Tso’s Chicken in Battle

    Thursday, February 25th, 2010

    This was forwarded to me from a Donald Siegel, a professor at Syracuse University, and more importantly, the author of “From Lokshen to Lo Mein: The Jewish Love Affair with Chinese Food.“

    The Obsession with General Tso and his Chicken

    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

    Francis Lam expounds on General Tso’s chicken on, the poultry story that keeps on giving. He quotes “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.” Fuchsia Dunlop also weighs in on how it got known as General Tso’s chicken when the original English name was “Chicken a la Viceroy.” I feel there is a cabal of General Tso’s […]

    Halloween Costumes = General Tso and a Chicken

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

    This year for Halloween, I was one half of General Tso and his chicken. You will have to guess which half I was. I was surprised to say how many chicken costumes there are available for sale on the Internet. I was particularly taken though, by this chicken hat.

    General Tso in a Bottle

    Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

    I was in a kitchen today and saw a bottle of Iron Chef’s General Tso’s Sauce and Glaze. It was a bit too sweet, and not spicy enough. Nonetheless. You can get General Tso in a bottle!

    General Tso Kitty is Bringing Out His Inner Chicken

    Monday, November 10th, 2008

    (Originally uploaded by ferrisnox) I’m surprised how many cats there are out there named General Tso (including my friend’s mentioned previously).  I still think the one up there, from Flickr, is the most amusing in that it shows a cat trying to don his inner chicken identity.

    General Tso goes on a shopping spree?

    Thursday, September 18th, 2008

    A style article on shopping in boutiques in Chinatown uses General Tso in the headline, even though he has nothing to do with the story. It’s interesting how General Tso has become a shorthand for “an abstract Chinese figure that Americans can relate to, ” as opposed to let’s say Mao Zedong or Confucius. Can […]

    General Tso-themed baby wear

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    General Tso Onesie Available from Etsy, a “General Tso onesie” — which is funny because no sign of General Tso anywhere, just fortune cookies. Which shows both have become interchangeable symbols for Chinese food. The desription: Grab this adorable “General Tso” baby onesie for your little one. American Apparel 100% Organic Cotton. Machine washable. Triple […]

    General Tso did not appear here.

    Thursday, August 7th, 2008

    George Vescey writes about how General Tso did not show up at the Times’ Olympic banquet for everyone who was sent to cover the games. As he writes: “Those of us who have never been to China have always heard that Chinese food is vastly different from what we get in the States — takeout […]

    General Tso’s potato chips from Terra Kettles, available at Whole Foods

    Monday, July 28th, 2008

    This photo was sent to me by a reader. General Tso continues with his brand extension. He has his own type of chip available at Whole Foods. I’ve seen now, General Tso’s tofu, General Tso’s pizza, General Tso’s chipotle sauce, General Tso’s sushi, General Tso’s duck and now General Tso’s potato chips. (My favorite of […]

    Maybe General Tso had a Mexican Cousin?

    Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

    Erin passed me a press release that from Chop’t Salad which hailed “the Mott Street Chop with romaine lettuce and spinach, grilled chicken, snow peas, water chestnuts, and savory Chinese noodles drizzled with the recommended General Tso’s Chipotle dressing.” General Tso’s Chipotle dressing?! General Tso, promise you, never saw a stalk of broccoli in his […]

    Welcome to General Tso’s hometown! Xiangyin, Hunan

    Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

    This is the billboard from when I visited General Tso‘s hometown in rural Hunan province in my journey to find the source of General Tso’s chicken. (yes he is real, he played a huge part in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion, started by a guy who thought he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ) It […]

    General Tso shares an issue with Maxim with a semi naked April Lavigne.

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

    This is the March issue of Maxim magazine with my piece on the origins of General Tso’s chicken. For some reason I find this all very amusing. My research is sharing pages with “Why Women Secretly Love Porn.” (Why do we secretly love porn?) One of the cooler things they did was take pictures of […]

    General Tso’s empire expands to bean curd

    Friday, January 4th, 2008

    Saw this on the menu at Tung Shing House in Rego Park, Queens, where my family and my South African friend (who introduced ubuntu to me) had Christmas dinner. Side note: General Tso’s tofu is served on Antarctica, at McMurdo Station, an American scientific outpost. My South African friend claimed he did “really well with […]

    General Tso’s duck?

    Sunday, December 30th, 2007

    Apparently, te new Mt. Lebanon restaurant in Pittsburgh now serves General Tso’s duck. This goes along with other dishes I have discovered, including General Tso’s shrimp, General Tso’s tofu, General Tso’s dumplings, General Tso’s pizza. He has an expanding culinary empire

    Petraeus has nothing on Tso

    Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

    I thought this article from The Times Record-Herald by Steve Israel had a very telling line:  Pine Bush — Why did a real, live U.S. Army general — with two black stars on his chest — jet to Pine Bush High School yesterday? After all, the only general most schools around here see is General […]

    A real General Tso — actually General Cao

    Monday, November 5th, 2007

    Someone pointed to me that the defense minister is named Cao Gangchuan. He is a real General Cao, which is (more or less, though you can’t tell unless you know pinyin) pronounced General Tso, as Americans pronounced. Except of course, that General Tso is actually General Zuo Zongtang, and Zuo is pronounced, roughly, like “juoh.” […]

    General Tso’s Kitten? Only if He Misbehaves

    Thursday, June 28th, 2007

    My friend Jennifer sent me a picture of her cat named General Tso! I’m sure the Qing Dynasty Chinese warrior would be amused to learn that he has pets named after him overseas more than a century after his death (yes he actually existed, watch this blog for more details. I’ve even met his family, […]

    Whatever happened to The Long March of General Tso?

    Thursday, June 14th, 2007

    If you are here, you will notice that my book on Chinese food is no longer called The Long March of General Tso, as reported previously. Many people are sad about this, I among them. This brilliant title was conceived by my colleague Michael Luo. But the logic by my editor was this: If you […]