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General Tso’s Christmas

December 24, 2015

Are you eating Chinese food for Christmas?

It’s a thing.  Don’t knock it.

I’m not blaming this tradition on Jewish people, but non-Christians gotta eat out too.  Even on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Maybe those Chinese restauranteurs just saw the opportunity and grabbed it by the brass wok ring.  If no other joint was going to be open, you might as well fill that void.

Don’t worry, kids, Jewish Christmas at the Chinese food palace isn’t going to ruin your Santa moments.

Everyone is digging into it these days anyway.  GrubHub notes that Chinese food is 152% more popular on Christmas Day than the rest of the year.

In fact, three of the top five days of the year to order Chinese food are Christmas, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, followed by “smoking holiday” (4/20) and Labor Day.
By far the most popular item for Chinese food orders is General Tso’s Chicken. According to GrubHub — which features roughly 30,000 restaurants on its site across more than 800 cities in the U.S. — it’s actually the 4th most popular dish on the site, all year-round.

I don’t even eat that guy’s chicken, but even I know it’s not authentic.  That doesn’t really bother me.  It spawned a pretty good documentary about American love for Chinese food, called The Search for General Tso.

Adaptation happens.  It is not destroying the fabric of anything.  So, let’s keep the Tso in Christmas.  It’s crazy nonsense, but it’s food evolution – the best kind of crazy nonsense.

The real question is why I have so many chopsticks and why are there so many manufacturers?

I don’t need all these disposable chopsticks, I have my own stainless steel set.  I haven’t the heart to toss them.  Maybe I’ll make a tiny house with them one day.  Something the trees would be proud of.

In 1878, Japan produced the world’s first disposable chopsticks. Today in China, around 20 million trees are sacrificed to make disposable chopsticks, which is leading people throughout Asian chopstick countries to reconsider their use.

Those sticks come in different shapes and sizes.  They tell you the story of the chopstick and give you usage tips.  They wish you good fortune.  The various wrappers are a kind of cross cultural pop art.

As food became bite-sized, knives became more or less obsolete. Their decline—and chopsticks’ ascent—also came courtesy of Confucius. As a vegetarian, he believed that sharp utensils at the dinner table would remind eaters of the slaughterhouse. He also thought that knives’ sharp points evoked violence and warfare, killing the happy, contended mood that should reign during meals. Thanks in part to his teachings, chopstick use quickly became widespread throughout Asia.

Different cultures adopted different chopstick styles. Perhaps in a nod to Confucius, Chinese chopsticks featured a blunt rather than pointed end. In Japan, chopsticks were 8 inches long for men and 7 inches long for women.

The Riddle of Steel tells us flesh is stronger than steel, but my stainless chopsticks still rule the day.  They’re probably even bigger than 8 inches.  I didn’t measure.  En garde.


Whatever the hell you plan to feast on, much joy to you.  Hold on to that happy, contented mood.

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