“In nearly every small town (and big city) in America, you can find a Chinese restaurant. And in most of those restaurants you’ll find a syrupy red, slightly spicy chicken dish named after a general that few Americans have ever heard of. How did this come to be? Our goal in the film was to explore the fascinating phenomenon of Chinese food in America, and in the process taste as much General Tso’s Chicken as possible.”

So says enterprising — and apparently hungry — director Ian Cheney, who made it his mission to learn about the man behind a dish found on pretty much every Chinese restaurant menu: General Tso’s chicken. He documented the process in his new flick, “The Search for General Tso.”

As Cheney puts it, the film offers a lesson in history and how things (in this case, food) can evolve over time and through wide consumption.

“Learning about the stories behind our food, especially a dish with as unusual a history as General Tso’s chicken, will not only give us a renewed appreciation for the ways food can change and adapt with the times, but will also enlighten our knowledge of American history,” he said. “The story of Chinese American food is the story of thousands of families who have endeavored to make a living and gain acceptance in a country that at first rejected them. Next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, remember that — and remember to order General Tso’s chicken!”

The film will screen at the Digital Gym Cinema on Friday, Jan. 9. You can also find it in theaters and on demand. No word if you’ll be hungry again 10 minutes after watching, though.

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

What to Expect at Bread & Salt, Public Art in North County and More Visual Art Goodies

• The new year has some exciting stuff coming to Bread & Salt, the large art space in Logan Heights. New interim curator David Fobes has big plans for more innovative installation work. (CityBeat)

• North County welcomes whimsical public art. (U-T)

• Five major appointments in the world of local arts were made at the tail end of last year. Here’s what each of them brings to the table. (U-T)

Noise Is ON at Athenaeum, Hot Guys Dancing and More Music and Performance News

• It’s about to get real noisy at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library with the opening of the soundON Festival. (U-T)

• San Diego’s finest classical music organizations have big plans for 2015. (U-T)

• One way to ensure sold-out crowds at a dance concert: a show title like “Hot Guys Dancing.” (KPBS)

House Envy, Big ideas and More Culture Stuff

• Ready to feel a major pang of real estate envy? Check out San Diego Magazine’s profile of culture reporter Angela Carone and photographer Joe Porteous’s amazing mid-century house.

• Twenty-five of San Diego’s biggest thought leaders share their ideas on something that could transform the way our city operates. There are some pretty fascinating ones in the bunch. (San Diego Magazine)

• Encinitas’ new skate park is open and ready for shreddage. (Reader)​

• The North Park Theatre was sold to an Orange County-based group. I genuinely hope this doesn’t interrupt the course the theater was taking, with awesome shows booked by Casbah’s Tim Mays.

Alex Zaragoza is a freelance writer covering arts and culture in San Diego and Tijuana. She also writes the column "There She Goz" for San Diego CityBeat,...

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