Though name of the dish comes from general Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885), who lived during the Qing dynasty in today's Hunan province, the general himself carries little relation to the dish.
The dish General Tao's Chicken is neither served in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, nor in Xiangyin, the birthplace of the general. The generals' descendants, who still live in Xiangyin, said they have never heard of such a dish.
General Tao's Chicken can be found almost ubiquitously in Chinese restaurants in the US. The chicken chunks, battered and deep fried, are often covered with a thick sweet and sour sauce seasoned with soy sauce, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar, cornstarch and dried red chili peppers.