Last week, that master of marketing mayhem tangyslice and I headed over to one of our lunch haunts, Dragon Garden, to strategerize. The place doesn’t look like much, but it’s reliably decent and pretty cheap. My usual dish is the Ma Po Tofu lunch special with hot & sour soup and a can of soda for just $5.

That will surely get its own feature at some point, but this time we opted for that militaristic classic, General Gau’s Chicken.

Julia has been working in the lab to get the crust just right, but for some reason she’s not available to cater lunch for $5, so we stick with Dragon Garden. It’s pretty ok, and whatever mysterious chemical they use to get the crust crunchy seems to work.

But what continues to blow my mind is that there was a real General Gau. Or Tso. Or maybe even Zuǒ. It’s not likely he (or his wife) invented or discovered any chickens, or any secret wet cornstarch techniques, but it’s nice to know at least some part of the American Chinese food canon has a basis in fact, however tenuous.

And if you can find a copy of that cartoon (Far Side?) in which the general returns for his chicken, I’d be very grateful.