How General Tso's Came to America
General never tasted dish but Kissinger was a big fan
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2010 8:05 AM CST
Chef Peng was indignant when a food writer showed him photos of the "General Tso's chicken" served up at American Chinese restaurants.   (<a href="" target="source">©</a><a href="" target="source">scaredy_kat</a>)

(Newser) – The Qing dynasty military leader General Tso never tasted the chicken dish that bears his name, Francis Lam finds in a journey into Chinese food history. Classically trained Hunan chef Peng Chang-kuei created the dish and named it after his province's hero after fleeing to Taiwan with the Nationalists in 1949, but the version we know today owes just as much to New York as to Hunan, Lam writes in Salon.

New York Chinese chefs concocted their own, crispier and sweeter, version of General Tso's chicken after visiting Peng's restaurant in the '70s. Peng himself later moved to New York and opened an eatery that thrived in the surge of interest in all things Chinese that followed Nixon's visit. He counted Henry Kissinger among his loyal customers. The dish soon spread and mutated from coast to coast, Lam writes, and is now becoming popular as far away as Hunan, once home to General Tso.