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Old Mar 30, 16, 8:47 am
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 4,910
Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
I am not looking for a cookbook for myself. Rather, I am trying to figure out how, at least in America (but I think a similar thing happens in other countries as well), all Chinese (and this could be the same for Indian or other styles of cooking) restaurants seem to serve the same inauthentic dishes prepared more for less the same way.

When I think about the Chinese restaurants near me, they all (with perhaps one or two exceptions) have nearly identical menus. Food more or less tastes the same. I know that at least in a few of them (and I suspect most of them) the owners are recent immigrants. So it is not like they would have developed any cultural familiarity with these dishes.

So how do they all end up so similar? It would seem to make sense to me that they would least exhibit some tendency on the cooks part to reflect their own regional styles. I am assuming then that there must be some kind of instruction given by the food distributors on how to prepare "American-Chinese" food. I used to notice the same thing around here with Indian food - they all more or less had a similar menu. That has changed recently, however.
This is probably more an effect of the way many Chinese restaurants are bought and sold, with chefs circulating among restaurants as opportunities present. I think most immigrant restaurant chefs in the US were not culinary specialists in their native countries, so they are not bringing their regional cuisines with them to open a new restaurant; rather they are buying or training into a tradition of American Chinese when they arrive. I wouldn't imagine they particularly refer to cookbooks to build their techniques.

Another consideration is the fact that most patrons of unqualified 'Chinese' restaurants expect a particular set of dishes, so there's also a risk of confusion in doing something different.

If you are looking for more varied regional cuisines, most larger cities in the US now offer a proliferation of styles, but if you are only near towns with a handful of restaurants it's probably not easy to find. That said, there are great resources on the internet for learning and trying whatever strikes your fancy out at home.
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