The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Right now I am reading The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee – (Yes, “8” the number. It symbolizes prosperity in Chinese culture.)

The book starts out with the true story of how in 2005 over 100 people won the Powerball lottery using the same numbers, which they got from, where else? A fortune cookie.

It’s hard to believe but there are more Chinese restaurants across the United States than there are McDonald’s, Burger Kings and KFCs combined, but it’s true. And Ms. Lee explores how this, in part, makes Chinese food an American phenomenon.

Ms. Lee refers to herself as an “ABC” (American Born Chinese). Her parents arrived in the United States in 1965. She has 2 siblings; a sister named Frances and a brother named Kenneth. In The Fortune Cookie Chronicles she says, “If you string together our first initials, you get JFK, which, my parents tease, is the airport they landed at when they first came to America.”

Like most Americans, Jennifer Lee grew up eating take-out Chinese food on occasion. She never wondered why the food was different than her own mother’s home cooking until she was older.

This book is an incredibly fun and interesting read. You will be surprised at the things you learn, things contrary to what you thought you knew about Chinese and American food and culture. Ms. Lee beautifully and entertainingly brings together her own personal story as well as the stories of others who identify with more than one culture, along with the history of Chinese food as we know it in the United States. There are parts of this book where her beautiful prose will leave you wanting more, and with an intense craving to pick up the phone and order take-out.



Filed under books, culture, food, opinion

14 responses to “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

  1. sorry – my website did not correctly go in the space, but the above is me. : )

  2. It’s a handle from a take-out box of Chinese food.

  3. i would have said what Jana said–since your talking about chinese food and all….but i’ll go with a bucket handle since she already used take out container handle :)

  4. Iva

    wow my 1st 2 guesses are taken, i guess that is what happens when you go to tartget before you read your blogs :)

  5. Cyn

    I figured out paperclip before I saw Kelly’s response, but my initial reaction was IUD.

  6. It is a thingie-mabob to hold your book open (or the top to a carry-out container).

  7. It’s the handle from a Chinese food take-out box- no?

  8. A handle to a chinese food take-out box?

  9. I am sure that it is the handle for the takeout container but since that was already guessed I am going to say that it also looks like the top to a fragrance burner that I have. Specifically the piece that fits over the part you light.

  10. shionge

    Hiya Tee, I know this is strange but in Singapore it was not a ‘tradition’ to have fortune cookies at all.

    In fact, I received my first fortune cookies when I was in America when my hubby went for a take-out.

    Now, some Chinese restaurant do give out these cookies and I think it is pretty awesome :D

  11. Tee

    Shionge – This was one interesting thing I learned from the book. Fortune cookies are something that were created in America. There is more surprising information regarding fortune cookies but I won’t spoil it by saying any more!

  12. The handle on the Chinese take-out box. As mentioned a few times already. I know, I’m a little late but that’s also my guess.

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