Sunday, January 21, 2007

first Chinese restaurant in the US

In China, there are about 300 McDonalds restaurants; but in the US, where there are about 13,000 McDonaldses, there are more than 40,000 Chinese eateries.

McDonalds opened in China in late 2005, but apparently the first US Chinese restaurant was opened in 1849 in San Francisco.

Chinese food arrived in America in the mid-1800s with laborers imported to work the California gold rush. By the 1890s, Chinese restaurants had opened in big cities on both coasts. Most early Chinese immigrants were from Canton, in southern China, and brought that city's cuisine. As Chinese cooks adapted to their new land, they came up with new dishes, including chop suey, chow mein, egg foo young, and the fortune cookie.

Chinese restaurateurs, aware of how intimidating the new cuisine could be, encouraged ordering "family style" and devised the "one from Column A, one from Column B" system to simplify selection. Chinese restaurants also welcomed blacks and Jews when other establishments shunned them. Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant is still a tradition for many American Jewish families.

Chinese-American cuisine changed after 1965, when increased immigration from Asia was permitted. Spicier Sichuan and Hunan dishes from northern Chinese provinces, began replacing former Cantonese favorites. New immigrants sought opportunities throughout the US. For example, in 1971 there were 28 Chinese restaurants in Utah. Now there are more than 250. (info from U.S. News & World Report, and other sources)

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