Christmas a day for Chinese food in US
Updated: 2014-12-26 12:54
By Lizn Zi in San Francisco(China Daily USA)
The legend that a lot of people eat Chinese food on Christmas actually is backed up by quasi-scientific data.
According to Google Trends, the consumption of Chinese food increases dramatically on the holiday. Since it began tracking the trend in 2004, Google has seen a big jump in searches for "Chinese food" around Christmas.
Moreover, GrubHub, the online delivery service, shows a 152 percent spike in sales at its participating Chinese restaurants on Christmas.
The Washington Post said that the relationship with Jewish people in the US and Chinese cuisine during the holiday is well documented. The Post said that for American Jews, "eating Chinese food reaches its pinnacle on Christmas", because they regard eating Chinese food as a special occasion, according to Joshua Eli Plaut's book A Kosher Christmas in 2012.
The tradition has been so widespread, according to Plaut, that even Orthodox Jews head to Chinese restaurants that don't serve restricted foods such as pork and shellfish.
A story by Adam Chandler in The Atlantic online Tuesday says the relationship with the Jewish and Chinese immigrant communities goes back to the turn of the 20th century, when they lived in close proximity on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Chandler wrote that "the chop suey palaces and dumpling parlors of the Lower East Side and Chinatown gave the illusion of religious accordance a narrow culinary phenomenon that started over a century ago managed to grow into a national ritual that is both specifically American and characteristically Jewish".
The most popular item for Chinese food orders on Christmas, according to GrubHub, is General Tso's chicken - which despite the legend of the general that you may find on some paper placemats, that he whipped up the dish to feed his hungry guests aft er his chef called out sick during a distant dynasty - is not an authentic Chinese dish but an American concoction.
Michael, an employee of CBI Kitchen, a Sichuan restaurant in Milpitas, California, said: "We cater to non-Chinese customers with bilingual menus written both in Chinese and English and supply some American-style Chinese food such as sweet and sour chicken and Mongolian beef that could not be seen in China. As I know, almost every Chinese restaurant in the US supplies these dishes."
Another natural reason for Chinese food consumption on Christmas is that Chinese restaurants are open 365 days a year, while many other restaurants close on Dec 25.
The US is home to more than 46,000 Chinese restaurants even though Chinese Americans make up less than 1 percent of the US population. Roughly one-third of all ethnic restaurants in the US serve a Chinese menu, and most supermarkets carry a line of Chinese food products.
"Fusion cuisine or a mixture of Chinese cuisine with another culture, or cooking style, has also become a trend in all restaurants across the nation," according to Chinese Restaurant News.
William Hennelly in New York contributed to this story.