Redneck-ified Chinese Food

I'm just learned that cashew chicken is not a dish that can be eaten with chopsticks out of the little chinese to go box.

If you're ever in southwest Missouri, you should order Cashew Chicken. You can only get true Ozark cashew chicken in Springfield and the surrounding area. Basically, there was a large immigration of Chinese people here in the 50s or something, and they all opened restaurants. They then all promptly failed b/c rednecks aren't into that weird new fangled Asian food (we JUST last year got our second sushi restaurant, and the first one used sushi as a sidebar and the steakhouse aspect as the main attraction...now we're booming with sushi bars, though). Well, in order to keep from going out of business, someone in this town invented cashew chicken. Yes, I realize that's a dish you can get in a lot of places, but it's different here. Basically what they did was take the chicken that every other restaurant puts in general's chicken or sesame chicken or whatnot, took out those hot red peppers so it's not spicy, took out any vegetables that might give it a semblance of actually being a Chinese dish, and added redneck gravy. Until I moved to St. Louis, getting Chinese meant getting cashew chicken...which meant getting chicken nuggets on rice with brown gravy and cashews and NOTHING ELSE on it. At all the Chinese restaurants, and even at the sushi bars here, you still have to ask for chopsticks...and even funnier to me...you can get chopsticks at the Thai place. And there's no such thing as Chinese delivery. The only foods that deliver here are pizza and deli stuff. We do, however, have lots of Chinese drive through, and my favorite place boasts the best cashew chicken in town. Given that I had enough growing up to mean I never have to try it again (and once I tried real chinese food I started a new addiction) I'd never ordered it. Last night I was feeling country, but wanted egg rolls, too, so I went and got cashew chicken. This always means a wonderfully cold lunch out of the box the next day. The brown gravy we Ozarkers have added to the dish, though, congeals in such a way that my chopsticks skills are worthless.

You learn something new every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're still in St. Louis, South Hunan has springfield style cashew chicken, can't remember the location, went there as a kid, but somewhere near South County mall, I think, only they named it crispy chicken, 'cause they still serve the other kind. They also opened a Hunan place in High Ridge that serves it. Also, Wikkipedia has posted the recipe for Leung's Tea Room's Cashew chicken, and allrecipes.com has some good recipes titled "Springfield Cashew Chicken" I and II.