I was watching The Simpsons tonight, and was reminded of my perennial question "Who the Hell was General Gau anyway?". Or, if you're not from Boston, "General Tso". For a while, I liked to imagine that the apostrophe didn't denote posession, but instead was a contraction. Which would mean "General Tso IS Chicken". Reminds me of Soylent Green. (Which, in turn, reminds me of Phil Hartman, doing an SNL sketch.)
Perhaps it was my father that suggested that maybe Tso/Gau wasn't really a general at all, and it was a convenient personality, closely analogous to "Colonel Sanders". I never cared for that idea.
I also used to think that maybe the dish was named after Sun Tzu, author of "The Art of War". I couldn't find any proof, but it was one of the few individuals I could name from Chinese history, so I left it at that until the mention on The Simpsons tonight.
I looked around and found any number of menus and recipes, but eventually I stumbled across this page led me to the information that the individual in question, a General Zuo Zongtang, was important in putting down the Taiping and Nian rebellions. Roughly analogous to a "General Sherman's Chicken".
Hm. Speaking of Sherman; General Zuo lived from 1812 to 1885, making him Sherman's contemporary. That's kind of interesting. I have a hard time keeping timelines straight. Somehow, my High School education has left me with the impression that world history stopped around 1776, and history since then has happened only within the US. (Maybe the other countries were feeling envious in 1914 and 1937. We didn't study reasons, just dates.)
Now I'm hungry.