The Culinary Historians of Southern California, a.k.a. the nonprofit committee in charge of the L.A. Public Library's cookbooks, presents author Andrew Coe's food talk "Chinese Banquets on Gold Mountain: The History of Chinese Food in the American West." Coe wrote the similarly named tome Chop Suey: A Culinary History of Chinese Food in the United States (2009, Oxford University Press), so he likely knows what he's talking about. Chop suey's shocking origin? Turns out the 19th-century Gold Rush essentially created the signature dish of 20th-century Chinese-American cuisine, an odd 'n' ends, bits 'n' pieces stir-fry blanded down for Americans' Pepperidge Farms palates. More historical/gastronomical turning points: America's initial trade with China in 1784, slumming it in New York's Chinatown with Jazz Age socialites, and President Nixon's 1972 trip to China. Following the talk, a book signing and reception with "themed refreshments" — here's hoping for General Tso's Chicken.
Sat., March 13, 10:30 a.m., 2010

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