General Tso and His Mighty Chicken, Bruce


Many a Chinese food eater has wondered, as I wondered tonight: who is General Tso and why am I eating his chicken?

Luckily this Washington Post article is right on point: Who Was General Tso and Why Are We Eating His Chicken?

According to the article: “Tso was utterly ruthless. He smashed the Taiping rebels in four provinces, put down an unrelated revolt called the Nian Rebellion, then marched west and reconquered Chinese Turkestan from Muslim rebels.”

Yes, and his chicken?

The article goes silent. Who was this chicken and how has one bird fed so many for so long?

Tonight I eschewed my studying and frolicked over to the Chinese-American Poultry library and picked up a book titled: “Bok Bok in a Wok: The Chicken That Made General Tso” by Lonny Horowitz.

In Horowitz’s brilliant narrative, we see the life of General Tso through the eyes of his chicken, Bruce.

“How doth the General spite me today,” begins Chapter Three, The Pecking Order, “My beak is parched and yet my bowl is empty. Who does a bird have to bok to get a drink around here?”

Chapter Eight offers this titillating insight: “When General Tso takes a lover, he pours sticky syrup over her and sprinkles her pulsating body with red peppers. Perhaps if I roll around in this mixture, he will treat me like the lover I know I am? Tomorrow I shall carry out my plan.”

And the sad, powerful conclusion, where General Tso comes at Bruce with a glistening hatchet: “The end draws near. I feel death tapping at my skull. Tap! Tap! Tap! And yet I know I shall live on forever. I know I shall forever be. General. Tso’s. Chicken.”

Tonight, as I gnawed at Bruce’s regenerated carcass, I felt his spirit enter me. “I am the ancient bird,” he sang from inside. “Let us sing my song.”

“CAW! CAW! CAW!” I sang out.

“Quiet,” said Lauren, “The Sopranos is on.”

Bruce, Lauren and I watched together as the mystery of General Tso and his chicken finally came to rest.

2 thoughts on “General Tso and His Mighty Chicken, Bruce”

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top