By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Don't call it derivative!

U.S.-China conversation.  Shutterstock image.

I got a real laugh out of a story appearing recently in China’s English-language China Daily. Entitled “Twist of Fortune,” it is about a restaurant two Americans have started in Shanghai, China, called “Fortune Cookie,” whose menu consists of U.S. versions of Chinese food.

Chinese who have visited or lived in the United States frequently comment, often with a smile, that the Chinese cuisine served in American Chinese restaurants is typically only vaguely related to Chinese cuisine served in China. Aside from often being more salty and less spicy, there are entire dishes – ranging from beef with broccoli to General Tso’s chicken to fortune cookies – that do not exist in China. (The biggest difference between Chinese food in the United States and in China, of which most Chinese are not aware, is the absence of dishes based on body parts Americans generally find unattractive, such as beef hearts, pig ears, duck tongues or chicken feet. Most Chinese cannot understand why Americans object to such food.)

“We regard our food as authentic American Chinese food that appeals to American palates,” one of the co-founders of the restaurant stated. Not only does Fortune Cookie include “genuine” American Chinese recipes, they even provide the fold packs with steel handles and a red pagoda that are used for takeout from Chinese restaurants in the United States. (China is one of the few other countries in the world with a doggie bag tradition, but Chinese don’t use the American-style boxes.)

Amazingly, the article reports that a third of the diners are Chinese rather than Americans!

Posted by Steve Kelman on Mar 28, 2014 at 7:50 AM


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