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In the 1960s Polynesian theme restaurants and tiki bars were all the rage.While Chinese food was introduced to America in the mid-19th century, Vietnamese (Japanese, Thai, etc.) cuisine was generally unknown to mainstream American diners until the 1970s.Won ton soup, egg rolls, barbecued spareribs, sweet-and-sour pork, and beef with lobster sauce were all concocted to whet Americans' appetites, and to this day, it is standard procedure for an American in an Chinese restaurant to be handed a two-columned menu written in English, while a completely different menu printed in Chinese will be given to a Chinese patron, who, in any case, would probably disregard it and order from the specials written in pictographs on the walls.
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Coincidentally, this period also marks the genesis of fusion cuisine, a convergence of fresh foods, exotic tastes and interesting textures.
From the beginning, Asian dishes intended for American diners were adapted to suit expectations.
By the 1920s, Chinese restaurants dotted the American landscape, and one was as likely to find a chop suey' parlor in Kansas City as in New York or San Francisco, even though the typical menu in such places bore small resemblance to the foods the Chinese themselves ate.
Many dishes were cloyingly sweetened with caramel and sugar, inundated with pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries, and fried in thick batters, while the ubiquitious flaming appetized platter called pu pu..first served as a gimmick by Victor Bergeron at his Trade Vic's Polynesian-American restaurants in Oakland and San Francisco.The Cantonese readily absorbed these cosmopolitan influences and, being great travelers themselves, soon emigrated to Europe and America.