I just recently discovered Atlas Obscura and have been reading the articles like crazy. My Google news feed originally clued me in when the algorithm suggested an article entitled “What the Heck Is Crab Rangoon Anyway?” and from there I was sucked down the rabbit hole. The article on Crab Rangoon is excellent and traces the origin of Crab Rangoon back to Trader Vic’s, and the post-war Tiki craze. Crab Rangoon is a deep fried wonton wrapper stuffed with cream cheese and crab meat and served with a syrupy, neon colored sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. The dish appears to have been invented from whole cloth by the owner of Trader Vic’s as a imagined Polynesian appetizer. My favorite Crab Rangoon are from The Real Le Anh Chinese Food cart on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania
The article also places Crab Rangoon within American-Chinese cuisine. The article describes American-Chinese cuisine as resulting from the exclusionary immigration laws that sought to keep Chinese immigrants out of the U.S. but that had a loop-hole that allowed for “merchant visas”. In 1915 a court ruled that restaurant owners qualified for merchant visas providing a route for Chinese immigration to the U.S. American-Chinese cuisine took on its familiar form, in part, because many ingredients that were expensive in China were cheap in America, and vice versa. Oil for deep frying, sugar and chicken were cheap while ingredients like Szechuan peppercorns were hard to source.
Atlas Obscura also has a really good article on Kimchi and the practice of families putting aside a weekend or two in November or December to make industrial quantities of kimchi.