‘The Search for General Tso’ and the Chinese-American Immigrant Experience

By Jamilah King Jan 08, 2015

"The Search for General Tso" is a new documentary produced by Jennifer 8 Lee and Amanda Murray and directed by Ian Cheney that’s opening nationwide and on demand this month. In a recent interview with NBC Asian America, the producers talk about what they think the film says about the Chinese-American and immigrant experiences in the United States. About the film:

In America, the filmmakers visit both big city Chinese restaurants and tiny, rural eateries all serving the iconic dish. They feature Americans who love the dish and Chinese people who are baffled by it. They go to General Tso’s hometown in Hunan Province and find a celebrated war hero, revered for his role in the Qing Dynasty Taiping Rebellion, but no chicken. They talk to a retired chef in Taiwan who did create a Hunan-style chicken dish once, but is embarrassed by the "crazy nonsense" the dish has become. Along the way, they craft a delightful story about immigrant ingenuity, cultural confusion, and Asian-American adaptation.

"The film uses the ubiquitous spicy sweet chicken dish as a window into the Chinese-American immigrant experience," said Lee. "In a way, it reflects my own experience growing up Chinese American. Looks exotic on the outside, but in reality, completely native to here."

Read more and watch the trailer below.