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.