Memorize this: chop suey is not authentic Chinese food.
The movie titled “Flower Drum Song” debuted in 1961. In the movie, based on the Broadway show, the cast sings a song called “Chop Suey” to emphasize a clash of cultures between old Chinese traditions and the lives of Chinese-Americans who have added many bits of American culture to their lives.
It is stated as an introduction to the song that chop suey is an American invention. But hardly anyone paid attention to that. Here is the movie cast performing “Chop Suey” in song and dance:
The story goes that chop suey was invented in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Supposedly, some drunk miners showed up in Chinatown after most of the restaurants had closed. They found one restaurant owner who was about to close and demanded to be fed. He did not have much food left in his restaurant after the dinner service. So, he stirred together the leftovers from many of his individual dishes and chop suey was created. It became very popular and was mistaken for a traditional Chinese recipe.
In the 1960s, if you wanted real Chinese food in San Francisco, you went to Cecilia Chiang’s Mandarin restaurant. Here is her story: