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Mandarin also?Edit

Although this dish's name seems to have originated in the Cantonese-speaking regions, should a mandarin definition also be added? Mandarin-speaking people do know what the dish is (and pronounce it in Mandarin, using the same characters, when referring to it), and it is available in restaurants outside Cantonese-speaking areas. 19:42, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

done. -- A-cai 00:32, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

The Cantonese definition seems to have been removed, although this is fairly clearly a dish of Cantonese origin. 02:59, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree. The problem that I'm running into is that I can't find any corroborating material. I don't think citing the Wikipedia article is appropriate at this point, since it also lacks proper citations. I don't speak Cantonese myself, so I don't know if I can trust the accuracy of the scant materials that I've found online. Already, I've found one descrepancy. Wikipedia says that 鸡片 is "gai1 pin3" but Cantodict says that its gai1 pin3*2.[1] I think I'll post this to WT:BP, and find out what others want to do. I'd honestly rather having nothing, than to include potentially inaccurate information. My reason is that I've seen how errors and inaccuracies are quite easy to perpetuate online, once they are out there. -- A-cai 05:39, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

It's fine to wait, if you're worried. It's just that this is one of the very best known Cantonese dishes, at least in the Cantonese cuisine known in North America. 06:40, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

All the more reason to make sure we get it right, don't you think? -- A-cai 06:45, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Here's an early appearance in English, from Google Books: [2]. 07:01, 6 April 2008 (UTC)


(Oxford English Dictionary) moo goo gai pan, n. Cookery. Forms: 19- moo goo gai pan, 19- moo goo gai pen, 19- mou goo gai peen, 19- mou gou guy pan, 19- muy gou guy pan. [< Chinese regional (prob. Cantonese), lit. ‘mushroom chicken slice’; cf. Chinese (Mandarin) mógu mushroom, Chinese (Cantonese) gi chicken, Chinese (Mandarin) piàn, (Cantonese) pin slice.] A Chinese dish consisting of stir-fried strips of chicken with mushrooms and assorted vegetables. 1902 N.Y. Herald 14 Dec. V. 11/3 ‘Mou gou guy pan’ loses its mystery as boneless chicken with white mushrooms. 1938 Official Chinatown Guide Bk. 1939 19 Moo goo gai pan, sliced chicken with mushrooms.

6 August 1874, Indiana (PA) Progress, “A Chinese Dinner” (San Francisco), pg. 3, col. 3: The next dish served up was Moo Goo, a stew composed of bamboo sprouts, ham, Chinese water nuts and mushrooms.

New York’s Chinatown by Louis J. Beck New York, NY: Bohemia Publishing Company 1898 Pg. 49: BILL OF FARE Seventy-five Cents per Dish: -- Por Law Gai Pan—(Fried Chicken, Boneless, with Pineapple). Chow Gai Pin—(Fried Boned Chicken).

30 August 1903, New York (NY) Tribune, supplement, pg. 2, col. 1: The Chinese menu is puzzling. It is composed of dishes with such names as “mo gu sue ki,” “chow main,” “geish y main,” “yock a main,” “fin ka nau yok,” “li chee,” si u ah,” “up tread main,” “yang wall,” “muy gu guy pan,” etc. All these dishes are agreeable to the American taste. They range in price from $1.50 or $2 for “mo gu sue ki” (which is made of chicken breasts and mushrooms, principally) to 15 cents for “yock a main,” a composition of noodles, chicken and pork.

1903, Metropolitan Magazine (NY, NY), pg. 431, col. 1: All the great dishes served in China a thousand years ago...including..."muy gou guy pen” which is boneless chicken with white mushrooms.

The Restaurants of New York by George S. Chappell New York, NY: Greenberg, Inc. 1925 Pg. 161: I long to make repeated visits and try such combinations as Moo Goo Bar Low Guy Pan, which is boneless chicken with pineapple and lots of other things.

19 January 1930, New York (NY) Times, pg. 71: In The Nomad for January H. W. Hanemann tells of “The Deeds of a Fearless Gourmand,” his tale being “the account of his victorious campaigns against smorgaasbord, fassulia piaz, prishka, pollo con arroz and moo goo gai pan” in the restaurants of the city of New York.

Tips on Tables: Being a guide to dining and wining in New York at 265 restaurants suitable to every mood and every purse by George Ross New York, NY: Covici Friede Publishers 1934 Pg. 163: LUM FONG’S 220 Canal Street (Off Baxter Street) A few of the specialties from Mr. Fong’s kitchen are moo goo gai pen (sliced breast of chicken with mushrooms and bamboo shoots), Chinese kreplach (Mr. Levy’s contribution), fresh lobster Canton style, real Chinese noodles, egg roll, and roast duck.

Official Chinatown Guide Book 1939 New York, NY: Henin & Company 1938 Pg. 19: Favorite Original Chinatown Dishes (Cantonese Pronunciation) Char Shu (Barbecued Pork) Chun Kin (Egg rolls) For Opp (Roast Duck) Bark TOy Guy Pan—Sliced Chicken with Chinese Greens Boo Loo Guy Pan—Sliced chicken with pineapple Moo Goo Gai Pan—Sliced chicken with mushrooms

Where to Eat in New York with drawings by Bill Pause by Robert W. Dana (of the New York World-Telegram—ed.) New York, NY: Current Books 1948 Pg. 65: They could say “Moo goo gai pan” as easily as “ham and eggs,” and tell you its ingredients are breast of chicken with mushrooms and bamboo shoots. (This is from Lum Fong, 150 West 52nd and also 220 Canal Street—ed.) Pg. 69: ...moo goo gai pan, the fairly well known dish of chicken and Chinese vegetables…

March 1957, Gourmet pg. 64, col. 2: Q. I want to give a dinner party, Chinese style, and I’d like the recipe for moo goo gai pen, my favorite Chinese dish. MRS. RUTH TROIANI POUND RIDGE, NEW YORK A. Chacun a son moo goo, say we! Moo Goo Gai Pen In a heavy skillet heat 3 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper. Add 2 cups cooked chicken, cut in julienne strips, 1/2 cup each of celery, water chestnuts, and cooked mushrooms, all finely sliced, 1/2 cup each of bok choy hearts and bamboo shoots, both cut into 1-inch pieces, 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger root, and 1 cup chicken broth. Cover the pan tightly and cook the mixture over moderate heat for 5 minutes.

Stir 2 tablespoons cornstarch to a paste with 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1/4 cup water, and stir the paste into the vegetable-chicken mixture. Add 1 cup tender young snow-pea pods, stringed. Cover the pan tightly and cook the moo goo gai pen for another minute or two. Serve it with rice.

August 1970, Gourmet, pg. 58, col. 1: Q. Please give me a recipe for moo goo gai pan. WILLIAM S. CARPENTER BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT A. Get out your wok and follow the directions below. Moo Goo Gai Pan (Chinese Chicken with Mushrooms) Skin and bone 1 chicken breast and cut the meat into cubes. Combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and dredge the chicken cubes in this mixture until they are evenly coated. In a wok or skillet stir-fry 2 or 3 slices of gingerroot and 1 garlic clove, all minced, in 2 tablespoons oil for 1 minute. Add the chicken cubes and stir-fry them for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Drain the liquid from a 4-ounce can of button mushrooms, reserving 1/4 cup, add the mushrooms to the chicken, and heat them through. Blend 1 tablespoon cornstarch into the reserved mushroom liquid and stir the paste into the sauce until it is thickened. If desired, 10 to 12 snow peas, 4 water chestnuts, sliced, and 1 tablespoon oil may be added with the chicken. Serve the dish at once. Serves 4. 07:05, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

The above entry attests to the fact that "moo goo gai pan" is an English word. It also verifies that the word probably came from Cantonese. What it does not do is prove that the word is in fact a Cantonese word. In other words, it could have been coined for English speakers, based on Cantonese component words, but never existed in Cantonese itself. For example, the Japanese word for "word processor" is wāpro, but there is no English word like "word pro" which colloquially means "word processor" in English.
The above entry also does not provide the exact Romanization and tones (with the Romanization system specified) for the word.
If the word is Cantonese, we should be able to find primary source materials (i.e. materials in written or spoken Cantonese), which can attest to the existance of the word in Cantonese. A native Cantonese speaker could also do that for us, but since all Contributors are anonymous, it would be difficult to verify anyone's claim to being a native speaker. A reputable Cantonese-English dictionary which includes an entry for 蘑菇鸡片 would be the simplest way to settle the issue. The problem that we face with languages like Cantonese is that such dictionaries are few and far between, and often incomplete. That's why Wiktionary is such an important project (I know, it's a catch-22). -- A-cai 07:34, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Good points. I would say, due to the millions of Cantonese in the U.S., that even though the dish may have been invented and named in North America, it's still a Cantonese word the same way xá xị is a Vietnamese word (for root beer, which was definitely not invented by a Vietnamese). Regarding proof, as the Cantonese use the same set of characters as Mandarin, we usually rely on menus of Cantonese-operated restaurants for dish names/spellings (there are a lot online). 09:22, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

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