Mendelson begins with the arrival of men from the poorest district of Canton Province during the Gold Rush. She describes the formation of American Chinatowns and examines the curious racial dynamic underlying the purposeful invention of hybridized Chinese American food, historically prepared by Cantonese-descended cooks for whites incapable of grasping Chinese culinary principles. Mendelson then follows the eventual abolition of anti-Chinese immigration laws and the many demographic changes that transformed the face of Chinese cooking in America during and after the Cold War. Mendelson concludes with the post-1965 arrival of Chinese immigrants from Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and many regions of mainland China. As she shows, they have immeasurably enriched Chinese cooking in America but tend to form comparatively self-sufficient enclaves in which they, unlike their predecessors, are not dependent on cooking for a white clientele.