this is great. Crab Rangoon (which I’ve never heard of on this side of the pond!) is a wholly concocted “preposterous dish”:
Crab rangoon is a pure distillation of tiki fusion weirdness. There was a strange, circular movement between tiki food and American Chinese food. Trader Vic’s created tiki food by making American Chinese food seem more tropical; American Chinese restaurants took his dishes right back and made them more American Chinese. The American Chinese version tends toward cheaper imitation crab, which is made, usually, of pollock blended with starch and other binders, crab flavoring, and red food coloring. Imitation crab simply wasn’t available to Trader Vic—it started being produced in 1975—and it’s also neither Polynesian nor Chinese, but Japanese. American Chinese crab rangoon is a 1940s crab-and-cream-cheese dip stuffed into a wonton and deep-fried—a pure distillation of tiki fusion weirdness. Crab rangoon is, after all, a preposterous dish. Many of the responses I got in my survey were sheepish, or seemed overly proud, as if to mask the problem of loving a dish that is utterly uncool, wildly outdated, and not even in the same ballpark as authenticity.