The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food

In The New York Times article, “Wok,” writers Jane and Michael Stern review a fellow New York Times writer Jennifer 8. Lee’s book (yes, 8, as in “8 Asians“) “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food“:


“Lee rides her obsession on a three-year, 42-state, 23-country journey during which she discovers that fortune cookies, like so much about America’s Chinese restaurants, aren’t really Chinese…On the way to finding the origin of fortune cookies, she pinpoints the beginning of door-to-door delivery in New York and its attendant scourge of free menus. And she gives us the possible origin of chop suey (a joke played by a Chinese chef in San Francisco whose boss wanted him to concoct something that “would pass as Chinese.”) Lee travels to Hunan to see if the actual General Tso had anything to do with the chicken dish that bears his name, only to discover it most likely began as General Ching’s chicken, named after General Tso’s mentor.”

Another interesting “factoid” from the article is that “There are twice as many of these [Chinese] restaurants as there are McDonald’s franchises, and the food they serve is every bit as predictable.” also did blog about Jennifer 8 Lee’s article on “Fortune Cookies Not From China or America, But Japan.

I first learned about The Fortune Cookie Chronicles the other day because I saw my friend was going to attend Lee’s book tour in San Francisco on Facebook at this event Wednesday, March 26, 2008 from 7:30pm – 10:30pm.

There is also this hilarious interview by Stephen Colbert, of The Colbert Report, with Jennifer 8. Lee this past Tuesday, March 4th, 2008.

The book reviews on make the book sound quite interesting, and I just ordered the book today.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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