Week 4: General Tso’s Chicken (and Other East Asian Dishes!)

Today I started off my week by seeing The Search for General Tso’s at the Tribeca Film Festival. I am very interested in making East Asian foods, so that is what I am going to be focusing on this week.

I’ve honestly only had General Tso’s chicken once or twice in my life. I prefer to have authentic Chinese food in Chinatown, but if I go out for Americanized Chinese food, I usually get sesame chicken. While I went into this movie thinking it was just going to be about how General Tso’s is made, I was pleasantly surprised to get a nice history and cultural information about it.

One line in the film was about how General Tso’s is like gaining an “invitation into the world.” I really have never thought about food in this way, but it really is true. Food can tell so much about a culture, including the agriculture, nutrition and values. After seeing this movie, I feel like I have a newfound interest in the culture and background of food. It was so interesting to “walk” through the various Chinese dishes, such as Chop Suey, and see how they evolved into what we see as General Tso’s today.

While General Tso’s is now considered American-Chinese food, it was created by a Chinese man in China. Although the dish has changed dramatically since then, it is interesting to notice how the dish has evolved, and even more interesting to examine what kinds of dishes are popular in the United States (mostly consisting of sugar, salt and fat).

I really enjoyed this movie and I think it was a great way to start my week. This week I will indeed by concocting my own General Tso’s chicken as well as a homemade stir fry and some simple sushi. I may also try to recreate an East Asian dessert! I have never made any of these dishes before, and I am very excited to be trying them out. I hope they will taste as well as I imagine they will!

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Croque Monsieur

After returning home from the farmers’ market, it was time for lunch. Instead of choosing to throw a frozen burger into the microwave, I decided I would make my first sandwich. Today I decided to go French with the croque monsieur. When I was younger, my mom would sometimes make me a croque monsieur for breakfast, but I never knew how to make one for myself. Strangely enough there were lots of unhelpful recipes that overcomplicated the process. I went through many YouTube videos, as well as written recipes to find the one that seemed to be targeted at my skill level.

One of the things that I never knew about a croque monsieur sandwich is that it usually has a bechamel sauce placed on at least one side of the bread. My mom had never made me a croque monsieur with this sauce. I wanted to try to make this sauce, so I took a small detour and started researching recipes for the bechamel sauce. It ended up that bechamel sauce is actually rather easy to make. I followed this recipe, which was very clear. I was glad that I had all of those ingredients readily available, even tough I hadn’t originally planned to be making this sauce.

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