Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 29, 1896: Origin of Chop Suey

For those who have never heard, had, or seen Chop Suey until today like myself, please refer to the image. Really, Chop Suey's a simple American-Chinese dish consisting of meat (or seafood, increasingly), vegetables and some other ingredients of your choice, poured hot over rice. There are countless types of different Chop Suey today. When in doubt, please visit your local Chinese restaurant.

According to one legend, Chinese ambassador Li Hung Chang's cooks invented the dish for his American guests at a dinner on August 29th, 1896. During the service it is believed that the Chinese diplomat exclaimed "The way to a person's heart is through his or her stomach!" Although the story is doubtful by numerous standards, it is nonetheless true that Ambassador Li Hung Chang's visit to the New York City in 1896 resulted in a great number of Chinese food fans among Americans. His oriental fashion, marked by the yellow jacket he was seen many times wearing, and grand manner grabbed the nation's attention at once. Scholars believe the restaurant owners fabricated the urban myth to borrow this famous ambassador's name as a marketing strategy, and thus there is no truth to the story. Yet, there is no doubt that it was during this time Chinese cuisine enjoyed its heightened popularity more than ever before. ☆

Jin Shin, EVHP Staff

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