Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Book Review: Where Do Fortune Cookies Come From?

So why are we Chinese food aficionados so enamored with fortune cookies?

Perhaps that was the question writer Jennifer 8. Lee asked herself and her editor as a premise for writing The Fortune Cookie Chronicles (Grand Central Publishing 2008).

Ms. Lee is a second-generation Chinese American who flits from continent to continent searching for the answer to the question — who invented the fortune cookie. Hint: it wasn’t the Chinese.

In her exhaustive book she also explores General Tso’s chicken, a popular dish on the menu of cookie cutter Chinese restaurant menus. Was there really a General Tso or General Tsa?

Chapters are filled to the brim with every imaginable ingredient on the topics explored.  Some of the topics include:

–The origins of takeout
–How did the Chinese spread across the United States and why do Chinese restaurants dot teeming metropolises as well as obscure towns?
— How did Jews grew to love chow mein and Chinese food?
–Were those Peking ducks really kosher?
–Who writes all the fortune cookies and where do the sentiments come from?
–The mystery of the missing Chinese delivery man
–The best Chinese restaurant in the world
–How could all those Powerball winners get the same fortune cookie numbers?

Be prepared to crave Chinese food even if you read a few pages every night before going to bed like I did. As I turned off the light, I could almost smell tangerine chicken as my head hit the pillow.

Leave a Reply