Lists

Top ten "ethnic" foods that aren't really ethnic at all

What's for dinner? Whatever the answer, it's probably got an ethnic origin--or a supposedly ethnic origin. Because many of the foreign foods that we all enjoy aren't really very foreign at all. In other words, you can cross these ten dishes off your list, because, frankly, they're all just as American as apple pie (which is actually British).

10. General Tsao's Chicken
 Born in the USA, baby. General Tsao's (or Tao's, or Cho's, or Chu's... the name is about as variable as the accreditation) is as Chinese as gefilte fish. There was a General Tso (or Zuo Zontang) in the early 1800s, but how, exactly, his name became connected with this dish, with which he almost certainly had no experience, is fuzzy at best. Most likely, it was a dish created for the sweets-loving American palate by some New York City restaurant run by Chinese immigrants. The same is probably true for chow mein noodles. But like most of the dishes on this list, the alleged history has overshadowed whatever really happened.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen