Most of us know that all the Chinese foods we know and love: General Tso’s chicken, sesame beef, sweet-and-sour everything… none of these are actual dishes eaten in China. American Chinese food is really a cuisine all on its own, an amalgamation of Asian, continental, Latin, and local flavors that have become an indispensable part of most dinner plates.

According to historians, Chinese local fare came to the American West Coast during the Gold Rush, brought over by Chinese immigrants from the southern territories of mainland China. Records show that many of those immigrants had trouble finding work when they arrived in the U.S. and they turned to the food service industry to support themselves. In a new location with different local ingredient availability, the food began evolving to include vegetables such as tomatoes available in the Americas but not China.

Since then it adapted and fused with countless other global tastes to become the popular food we know today. Still, there are many interesting facts about Chinese food in America that are not as well-known.