WHO ORDERED THE MOO GOO GAI PAN?

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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