eatzalot's Profile

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Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

"It started appearing in cookbooks by the early 19th century. . ."

Yes, subject for another extensive thread, I've posted details from its long history for many years, including from those principal early American cookbooks (had them in print form for a long time) -- Eliza Leslie had recipes for 8 ketchups in one book (two anchovy; lobster, oyster, walnut, mushroom, lemon, and tomato; none of course sweetened).

I'd definitely not characterize the primary-source 1800s recipes I have as "a thin, vinegary and spicy brown liquid" -- that's someone's spin from a limited reading. Generically, they were just highly spiced preserves and condiments, sometimes thick with cooked sieved pulp from the ingredients. The descriptions of appearance in some of the early US (home) tomato ketchup recipes (Leslie actually called the fruit "tomata") read much like today's tomato ketchups.

Evan Jones (1981) used the evolution of ketchup to illustrate US tastes for gratuitous sweetness. One early expert wrote that sweetened ketchups were "regarded as an offense against God and man, against nature and good taste." A late-1800s condiment maker was credited with popularizing a sweetened version of tomato ketchup, which then made it into a popular 1886 cookbook, and thereafter went mainstream. HOWEVER even the late 20th-c. mainstream US Fannie Farmer cookbook that I grew up with featured several homemade ketchup recipes, under "Pickles and Relishes." Today many people never heard of making ketchups; I suppose some of them don't realize bread can be made at home, either.

about 10 hours ago
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

No -- sorry if it was unclear at any point -- I've only been referring, throughout, to the origin of a specific version of one particular sweet-sour dish ("battered deep-fried meat in a starch-thickened sauce containing onions, green peppers and pineapple" -- me, Sep. 28). Which I recall seeing traced in detail, along with a few other specialties, in some fascinating, in-depth food history. (This all came up here after I cited a local restaurant that offers both unambiguously, faithfully, "Chinese" dishes and, in parallel, the small standard "American-Chinese" repertoire -- some, not all, of which have been evolved, numbed down, etc. for US mass-market tastes.)

No one I know of disputes that sweet-sour dishes, more generally, have a long and highly developed history in China. Including "sweet and sour pork," by itself an ambiguous phrase, embracing many variations in China (I listed a few in previous post). The phrase has been used in different senses even within this CH thread. But unlike in China, the phrase's meaning is understood _extremely_ narrowly in US pop culture, as just one of the many versions found in modern Chinese cookbooks, and my particular interest is its detailed history.

about 11 hours ago
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

boogiebaby, note that ketchup originated in China anyway ("The Oxford English Dictionary says the word apparently derives from Amoy Chinese _kétsiap,_ meaning brine of pickled fish. The Malay _kēchap,_ often given as the source, may be from the Chinese as well." -- Hesses, "The Taste of America," 1977)

Sweet/sour pork in the particular variation with onions, peppers, and pineapple became internationally popular over the 20th century, and as usual with things that became popular, there are now many after-the-fact notions about how it came about. But there also has been more serious historical research about it than most Chowhounders are aware of, and we're discussing some of that in this thread.

about 17 hours ago
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

ScoopG: "It has been established that Cantonese cooks were using pineapple in some sweet-and-sour dishes in China before the same started appearing in North America."

Actually that statement includes a leap of assumption, and also does not speak to the specific dish at issue. Please read the following carefully.

First, it's certainly been established that Canton _abounds_ in longtime "Sweet and Sour Pork" recipes, many of which lack any pineapple in the solid ingredients. I already mentioned this, from printed cookbooks. Examples:

pork, Cantonese pickles, green pepper
pork, preserved lichee fruit
pork, onion, sweet pepper (green or red)
pork, bamboo shoots, green pepper, red pepper, onion

Much of the recipe nuance actually is in the _sauce_ ingredients, and how the pork is handled (same points Jonathan Gold recently mentioned).

Second, Scoop's sources say Cantonese cooks used "pineapple in some sweet-and-sour dishes in China" some time ago. That does NOT contradict what I've been telling you: that I recall particular published history of a specific pork version (s&sp with onions, green peppers, and pineapple) being developed and popularized first in the US, contemporaneously with "chop soly" -- perhaps 1880s, I don't recall the exact date (both dishes were traced in detail in the same scholarship). It is not particularly relevant that Wilkinson found the modern English name in print only in 1950 -- just as the modern name "chop suey" came long after that dish too was established in N. America -- neither point addresses either dish's _actual_ history in the Americas.

Third, unlike many people online, I don't argue points like this based on personal opinion, or what I'd "always heard" (scrabbling around then for easy online sources to buttress my existing notions). Until reading the specific scholarship I've mentioned, I'd assumed the US type of s&sp came from China, like many other restaurant dishes. Scoop et al. evidently have not seen the evidence I have, and nothing they've mentioned actually contradicts its upshots. Again if I locate the specific print source, I'll start a separate thread about the one dish.

about 18 hours ago
eatzalot in General Topics

Funny how foodie/non-foodie authors reveal themselves

Yes, it seems like a whole sub-study of literature. I think I've even seen books on just that subject.

Some popular fiction writers like Georges Simenon, Rex Stout, and Patrick O'Brian worked food and cooking into their stories so much that companion cookbooks appeared. Ian Fleming wasn't terribly food-knowledgeable like those authors (in one 1950s short story he assumed that Genovese "pesto" sauce contained pine cones, probably he'd never seen it), but still his descriptions of some meals were vivid.

Poe has exactly one vivid food scene IIRC, involving "Welsh rabbit" and the association of that cheese dish with brown stout "without which, in the manner of a condiment, Welsh rabbit is to be eschewed." (Pardon any garbling from memory.) I believe that was in the story "Some words with a mummy."

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

We Got a Stunning Glimpse of Flour and Water's New Pasta Book

Beautiful!

(Looks like he's using a 150mm Atlas for the rolling. Workhorse of many an Italian home and restaurant kitchen, and some here in the Americas too!)

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in Features
1

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

Caroline, you touched on a profound (but squalid) bit of US food history.

WW2 saw expansion of US food-processing industries and afterwards, nationwide marketing of packaged products that previously were often either made at home or by small local firms. Along with that came promotional campaigns ("Spam and eggs for breakfast!"), some of which I have in books, clippings, etc.

But after reading a few dozen US cookbooks of late 1940s and early 50s, I realized that the US cooking culture of that time could sum up as the Age of Mayonnaise. (As previous ages of humanity were characterized by stone, bronze, etc.)

Also popular were both gelatine products and green food coloring, incidentally.

Judging by 200 years of mainstream US cookbooks, that era was around the low point of US home cooking. Since then, we've collectively been recovering ingredient and taste sensibilities many of which actually were commonplace before 1900.

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Chinese chicken salad recipe ho chow - Fremont t

Like the Chef Chu recipe I summarized above? Based completely on mustard and sesame oil.

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

We're agreed, prasantrin, that I recall reading specific documentation of the pineapple/onion/bellpepper variant originating as an adaptation BY Cantonese cooks working IN the Americas of a dish familiar to them from China, but that you and ScoopG do not recall seeing such documentation. (I don't know who's interposing the "fake" language into this subject, my interest is only where this variant was first made and popularized.)

Please also see my postings here subsequent to the one you just replied to, especially http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9904... -- I already explained how Scoop's sources touch on the subject, but don't contradict what I've said in any real food-historical sense. AND I explained the context of Jonathan Gold's remark (was it unclear to you that he never mentioned pineapple pieces being in the dish served him? it could have been any of several standard Chinese recipes that -- AGAIN! -- abound in Chinese cookbooks I've consulted). Gold, moreover, did not come across as specifically knowledgeable or interested in the Americanized-Chinese repertoire's history.

I haven't much to add about s&sp at this time, if I find the history I've mentioned seeing, we can start another thread just about that dish.

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

I'm acquainted with Boiled Dressings, the 19th and 20th-c. cookbooks are full of them.

Now we're both at a disadvantage here (not having the stuff handy), but when I made its acquaintance in the 1960s, Miracle Whip™ was a close relative of commercial mayonnaise but sweeter (i.e., emulsion of oil with a little vinegar and also sugar; it included eggs like mayo, and maybe some other natural emulsifiers) -- in any event, closer to traditional commercial mayonnaise than are many products commonly sold today, as "reduced-fat" or "low-fat" mayonnaises. My family used it alternately with mayo, and I think we kids just preferred it because it was sweeter.

Basically, same reason focus groups choose breads and condiments with gratuitous sugar, and the processed-food industry accommodates their preference.

"things no one without a PhD in chemistry can pronounce. . ."

Let's not be too quick to judge things by their names, else you need to apply that Pronouncability Criterion fairly -- sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. Completely natural foods contain HUNDREDS of biochemicals most people have not bothered to learn about -- living creatures like you and I contain even more -- some of the names of these components are real jawbreakers.

I concur that mayonnaise in mashed potatoes seems, well, unnatural.

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

I recall Miracle Whip as a sweetened mayonnaise (haven't handled a jar in many years though). Possibly sugar doesn't improve mashed potatoes?

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Yes, offhand Pei Mei vo. 1, and something by Kenneth Lo, especially the 1992 greatest-hits book I cited elsewhere in this thread

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9888...

(it has two titles, in US and UK editions) and maybe also his Chinese Cooking on Next to Nothing (slightly earlier in same part of this thread), those are two books I often consult at home in recent years.

See also additional info I edited into previous post above.

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Really a subject for further threadS, yes (and I don't carry all the titles in my head!). But I got involved in some systematic research of Chinese c'books in English (in particular), assisting a publisher friend who was seeking classics for reissue.

The list would start with the multiple, bilingual volumes by Fu Pei-Mei, from Taiwan (herself virtually an institution, of more educational impact in her part of the world than, say, Julia Child had in the US), and include Barbara Tropp, writing from SF (who demystified some key principles and showed how tasty simplicity can be) and for Sichuanese cooking in particular, Fuchsia Dunlop's "L. O. P." and her two main US predecessors (Delfs and Chiang/Schrecker/Schrecker), who ably opened up that province's cooking to US readers, DECADES before Dunlop did (they even remain better than Dunlop on some details, though I like Dunlop a lot).

Some of these books have seen past CH discussions. As in this (unsuccessful) 2010 effort to find the title of one good 1970s book I'd seen briefly: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754167

Note that the principal US-born Chinese cooking authors who weren't ethnically Chinese were however scholars of Chinese history or literature (Tropp, Delfs), and in the case of the Schreckers, used their translating skills to explain the recipes and tips of a native Sichuanese cook-collaborator (Mrs. Chiang).

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

ISBN 9781620401606, "Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink."

This is the fourth edition, which came out late 2013.

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Thanks for those sources, Scoop.

Please note, my mention here that the standard US version of s&s pork was an adaptation by Cantonese cooks using ingredients at hand in the Americas (just as with the traditional US chop suey -- will someone now quibble that case too?) reflected not some ad-hoc retrospection of the histories of pineapple etc., not some personal opinion or deduction, but rather, specific published scholarship that established the history of these dishes in much more detail than anything mentioned on this thread (or on Wikipedia, etc.). I'd thought this history was more widely known than this thread suggests it is.

Again, that same immigrant-cook adaptation trend was well underway before 1900, and I recall even that the now-familiar US style of s&s pork (under whatever name at the time) predated 1950. Nothing posted here clearly contradicts any of that (personal notions or preferences notwithstanding). Yesterday, I checked a dozen print cookbooks by Chinese authors, which made clear that classic Chinese versions of the dish employed more typically Chinese ingredients (I already quoted an example in Lo).

Jonathan Gold (in prasantrin's link) evidently didn't realize or cite the _reason_ he'd always been steered away from "s&s pork" as a "Chinese" dish -- it was only the specific, rigid onions/peppers/pineapple variation (not s&s pork generally), associated mainly with the US, that underlay the advice. He was served a very different version of the dish, and his surprise was that s&s pork does NOT just mean one clichéed version.

I've found it both a blessing and a curse to pay attention to food history (such as this) for decades. Possibly the definitive US-adaptation history that I recall reading is somewhere in my 2000 food books or half-cubic-yard of articles files, but I lack the leisure currently to search them all. On the other hand, anyone else seriously interested could do the work and find the full story too! It is a fascinating bit of history.

Sep 29, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

I'm not sure we understand each other. My first point: several dishes go under the name s&s pork. That the _genre_ originated in China isn't in dispute.

Neither, to speak of, is the history of the characteristically non-Chinese ingredient pineapple being an addition by Chinese cooks working in the Americas. As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, the adaptation of Chinese dishes to American ingredients is a subject of venerable scholarship (Long Before Chowhound Existed); both US "chop suey" and "s&s pork" in the PINEAPPLE variation are cited as classic examples. Such adaptations began in late 1800s when many Canton-born cooks were employed on the US transcontinental railroad project. Yes, those two are western-influenced Chinese dishes; no, those _specific_ versions didn't originate in China (no authoritative account I've read ever claimed they did).

Lo's 1979 "Encyclopedia of Chinese Cooking" opined that more "sweet and sour pork" was by that time consumed in the US than in Canton. (His Cantonese recipe contains neither pineapple nor red dye.) Plum, lychee, or Cantonese pickles appear in recipes I have from Canton.

I'm not surprised at all that the pineapple variation has made it to HK (that most cosmopolitan of all food cities), as I already explained.

Sep 28, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Chinese chicken salad recipe ho chow - Fremont t

It might be most practical just to start with recipes you can find online -- or below, read on -- then dicker with them according to recollection.

I've had some good Bay Area renditions of this salad (supposedly invented in LA), and I remember also liking those based on mustard. But they weren't very complex dressings. And once you assemble a good a basic salad dressing, tossing it with lettuce or cabbage (some restaurants include Chinese or "Nappa" cabbage) and other herbs is a snap.

Chef Chu's Version for instance (acc. to Chu's 1983 cookbook) based its dressing on equal volumes hot powdered mustard, water, and sesame oil. With a little "Chinese five-spice salt" (separate recipe), slivered scallion, and lots of cilantro. NO vinegar or sugar.

Hope this helps!

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Certainly. However you folks are describing the answer, whereas I only addressed the question (that such a name can evoke).

There's a tradition of ambitious people adopting name gimmicks. For example, going by just one name (though born with first, middle, last), or eschewing all capital letters, are standard cliché affectations of creative or bohemian types (or people who'd like to be thought of that way) in the US.

What stands out in this case is the choice of a numeral (not "Eight"). Anyway, she chose it, she'll live with it.

Sep 28, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Chinese chicken salad recipe ho chow - Fremont t

Perhaps if you could describe it as well as you remember?

Many Bay Area restaurants make forms of that salad and they vary. I've certainly had it at Ho Chow in years past, but do not remember details.

Tadich Grill?? [San Francisco]

I hope, with different intent from when Josh Chandler, when he owned Lazy Creek Vineyards, named the resident pigs Pancetta and Prosciutto! (I believe I ended up tasting a bit of Pancetta at a winery open house.)

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

The bigger question it raises is whether she was born with that middle name, or took it on (perhaps as a publicity gimmick).

Sep 28, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

"It's not the inauthentic Chinese dish most Westerners think it is."

prasantrin, that all depends on exactly what dish you label "sweet and sour pork!" I posted some history downthread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9888... .

Canton certainly has an s&s pork tradition; Northeast China has a somewhat different one. But if you were served battered deep-fried meat in a starch-thickened sauce containing onions, green peppers and pineapple, that's the adaptation popularized in the US with the signature non-Chinese addition of pineapple, and is properly an American-Chinese dish. Variations sub. shrimp or chicken for pork.

And it may even have made its way to HK! Most cuisines do. I've had good Sichuanese, Indian, French, and Italian food in HK restaurants with chefs from those different places. (All those restaurants were also crowded with locals; HK restaurants generally are crowded with locals!)

Sep 28, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

However the Latin-American "Milanesa" (in Italy, "costoletta alla milanese"), one of Milan's several distinctively Germanic specialties (it's known in Germanic countries as a Wiener Schnitzel), is a crispy fried breaded pounded cutlet (also ancestor of the Texas "chicken-fried steak" which I think is what you already alluded to) rather than something of chopped or ground meat. In Vienna itself if a Schnitzel comes with potatoes, they're usually in a salad with clear dressing (neither fried nor mashed).

Also, Mexican restaurants like to serve "papas fritas" (sometimes cut as disks rather than sticks) with many other dishes including some wickedly good regional stir-fries. I think the Americas in general are nearly as fond of fried potatoes as France or Switzerland.

Sep 27, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

I wouldn't have labeled it inauthentic from my own experience either, Pookipichu. However (long before Chowhound existed) I read some learned history of Chinese-American food going into distinctive post-Gold-Rush adaptations of Chinese dishes to ingredients found in the Americas.

The distinctive US adaptation of s&s pork I recall, and always see, and cited earlier, is pineapple (not just the ginger & garlic flavors of the classic Dongbei dish). Also, the brilliant artificial red dye common to US versions by the 1970s doesn't seem especially venerable, though it may have been international by then.

Chop suey (called chop soly by one Chinese-American writer in 1883 and soon afterwards, chow-chop-sui in NYC) was another famous Americas adaptation, and there are others.

In his history of American food, J. F. Mariani cites three Chinese restaurants already in SF by 1849 and the earliest with a recorded name (Hang Far Low) closed only in 1960. (By 1860, Chinese were the largest single immigrant group in SF.) Many pre-1900 immigrants came from Guangdong (Canton) Province (even a particular part of it), and there was famous ship trade between SF and coastal southern China.

Sep 27, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Tadich Grill?? [San Francisco]

1271 posts mentioning it are at your disposal:

http://www.chow.com/search?q=Tadich&a...

Hit the "recency" button and the first nine are within the past month.

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

"Anyone know if fries were served with the same frequency pre-McDonald's?

Certainly they were. MacDonald's adapted existing fast-food specialties for its mass chain.

Around 1970 (within the memory of many CH readers), a big wave of national fast-food chains appeared or rapidly expanded in the US so that they became national clichés. But most or all of what they sold was already commonplace at local independent or small-chain fast-food restaurants for decades. Hamburgers with French fries, for eating in cars, grew in popularity with cars themselves, and were well established by the 1930s.

Sep 27, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Interesting you mention s&s pork. That was another of the old-school US-Chinese specialties (predating the '60s immigration-law change and the wave of new restaurants it encouraged) and I recall reading that it adapted venerable Chinese recipe ideas to US ingredients (pineapple).

Anyway, I hadn't had it in maybe 20 years when I encountered it recently (WITH full dazzling retro fluorescent red dye, no less) at an authentic Sichuanese restaurant that serves both "Chinese" and "American-Chinese" dishes (very deliberately, meeting demand for both). Have now had the dish there three times, mostly 'cause it's well made with good ingredients, lean and tasty -- but partly for the joy of this uninhibited, unpretentious celebration of American-Chinese food by a kitchen that also makes and serves wide ranging "authentic" dishes.

Sep 27, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

I wasn't sure (after reading the whole thread) if ipsedixit meant by "hamburger"

1) The complete sandwich with bun and condimentia (sometimes called "hamburg sandwich" in older US cookbooks, like pre-1950); or

2) Just the patty (sometimes called "hamburg steak" ditto, but also "chopped steak" and loosely "Salisbury steak" up through the present). Like the six-pound (3kg) frozen Banquet™ institutional-sized "Salisbury steaks with brown gravy" portion I saw in a restaurant-supply freezer recently.

Patties of chopped of ground beef, served with gravy, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, have been standard casual US diner or chain-restaurant fare for eons, and can still be found all over the US if you look for them. (Possibly reheated from the Banquet™ or Stouffers™ frozen product.)

I think part of the point of 2) is that mashed potatoes call out for a sauce or gravy, and the meat patty easily accommodates that.

Food-history books always stress that the original "Salisbury steak" was by definition chopped, not ground -- like Caroline's Turkish recollections (even Wikipedia gets this detail right). Nowadays though, "Salisbury steak" is a US commercial euphemism for any ground beef patty served with gravy.

Sep 27, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Caroline, my own experience of US Chinese restaurant food started in the Bay Area, early 1960s. Egg rolls, fried won tons, shrimp fritters, chow mein, chop suey (the US adaptation, said to be unfamiliar in China). Neon signs "Chinese and American Food." These places reflected an era of US Chinese restaurants (I've seen references back to 1900 or earlier) -- MORE than they reflected cooking practice in China.

There also was a valiant early wave of US Chinese cookbooks after WW2, including the popular Claiborne/Lee 1972, but even that one reflected a lot of US taste influence. But if you want reminiscences from China itself in early to mid 1900s, two other cookbooks come to mind: Another by K. Lo, "Chinese Regional Cooking" (1979) -- for the commentary he adds (though the recipes' geographical coverage is uneven); and the Chiang/Schrecker/Schrecker "Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook" (1976, reissued 1987), one of a few standard US cookbooks with authoritative Sichuanese recipes, based all on oral recipes and food anecdotes from an experienced native Sichuanese cook.

After combing the used cookbook market for 40 years I conclude that the number of both authoritative and widely-known Chinese cookbooks for US readers is (just like the number of authoritative and well-known books on most other cuisines) modest, like 15 or 20, despite hundreds of me-too slick commodity titles bidding to make money for publishers. (Hence my interest on "classic" COTM titles.)

Starting in the late 60s, new waves of Chinese restaurants became numerous in my part of the US, bringing far more range of flavors and "Chinese" cooking sensibilities. Interestingly, this new wave yielded its own, updated clichés of narrow US-popular repertoire. Chop suey and fried wontons were out, but mu shu, General Tso's chicken, pot stickers, and hot-and-sour soup were in!

Sep 27, 2014
eatzalot in General Topics

Heinz Ketchup Recipe. Make homemade catsup similar to Heinz or Del Monte.

Really an amazing thread from any historical perspective.

Ketchup has been around for centuries as a class of savory condiment/preserve. Until about the mid-20th century, it was routinely home-made in the US. Classic cookbooks are full of recipes for mushroom kechup, walnut ketchup, lobster ketchup, ... even sometimes tomato ketchup, though it wasn't a common flavor during most of US ketchup's history. None of the homemade forms were traditionally sweetened.

Sweetness in tomato ketchup (really it makes no ultimate difference what kind of sugar, sucrose converts to exactly "HFCS " in your digestive processes anyway, though some people don't want to know that) has been gradually incremented by the big condiment firms (along with sugar in bread products, salad dressings, and elsewhere it never belonged before) according to what customers prove most willing to buy. As you can see from this thread, the strategy worked!

Sep 26, 2014
eatzalot in Home Cooking