What exactly is Chop Suey?
I recently finished "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles" and absolutely loved it. Jennifer 8 Lee delves into the world of Chinese food in America after hearing about a statistical anomaly where numerous people (somewhere around 100) had major lottery winnings in a single contest. The link? The majority of the winners picked their numbers from a fortune cookie. She follows the history of Chinese food in America and examines its impact on American culture.
Growing up, my family always distinguished between Chinese food and "American Chinese food." When I first moved to Davis 10 years ago, I refused to eat at any Chinese restaurant because it wasn't authentic. Lee however, legitimizes American Chinese food as an integral part of American culture. She writes, "Our benchmark for Americanness is apple pie. But ask yourself: How often do you eat apple pie? How often do you eat Chinese food?"
It has helped me appreciate places like Panda Express for what it is. Now when my friends gush about "Orange Chicken," I understand that they are talking about their own homey comfort foods, and they fall in a different category than scrumptious chicken feet and pig's ears.