Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2021

Department 1

East Asian Studies


General Tso’s Chicken. Egg Rolls. Fried Rice. Fortune Cookies. Since the creation of Chop Suey in 1849, Chinese restaurants have not only displayed one of the most fascinating ethnic cuisines in the US but also become a commonly recognizable cultural symbol for Chinese-ness in the American “melting pot." Then what kind of “Chinese-ness” is presented and how is it constructed by these restaurants? Does its Otherness prevent it from fitting into mainstream American society or does its Americanization make this identity less ‘authentic’? By taking the Chinese restaurants in Gettysburg, PA, as a case study, this research studies the construction of their culinary identity through the strategic crafting of food, space, and customer experience. It argues that the constructed Chinese-ness reveals a complex process of cultural negotiation with the larger American society, including its entrenched racism. This process not only reflects the fluid and performative nature of the culinary identity of these restaurants but also the power of ethnic agency to find its own positioning in mainstream American society.


Written for AS 460: Individualized Study-Research