give us the real chinese food

Here's an ineresting op-ed piece by Nina and Tim Zagat in the New York Times on American perceptions of Asian food, and sad, sad state of Chinese food in the United States: Eating Beyond Sichuan. Basically, it lacks authenticity, and we have no idea what we've been missing:
That's because the lackluster Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan restaurants in this country do not resemble those you can find in China. There is a historic explanation for the abysmal state of Chinese cuisine in the United States. Without access to key ingredients from their homeland, Chinese immigrants working on the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860s improvised dishes like chow mein and chop suey that nobody back in their native land would have recognized. To please the naive palates of 19th-century Americans, immigrant chefs used sweet, rich sauces to coat the food - a radical departure from the spicy, chili-based dishes served back home.

But today, getting ingredients is no longer an issue. Instead, the principal obstacle to improving Chinese fare here is the difficulty of getting visas for skilled workers since 9/11. Michael Tong, head of the Shun Lee restaurant group in New York, has said that opening a major Chinese restaurant in America is next to impossible because it can take years to get a team of chefs from China. Chinese restaurateur Alan Yau planned to open his first New York City restaurant last year but was derailed because he was unable to get visas for his chefs.
You hear that, Condoleezza Rice? How about some dumpling diplomacy? Forget issues of illegal immigration, terrorism, espionage, and all that. Dammit, the food would be awesome. The piece suggests that China and the United States should work togeter on a culinary visa program that makes it easier for Chinese chefs to come here. With more chefs from China's restaurants, America could see a Chinese food revolution!

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