The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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  • Archive for July, 2007

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    And when they came with their torches and nooses, the Chinese fled to restaurants

    Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

    Denver Riot of 1880 Jean Pfaezer’s new book: Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans is thoughtfully reviewed this Sunday in The New York Times. The book chronicles the waves of anti-Chinese violence that hit the West in the late 1800s, which culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed in stages from 1882 to […]

    I’ll need that by Feb. -30-

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    The New York Times ran a correction, which undoubtedly will go down into the canon of great corrections. An article on Thursday about the arraignment of three men in the shooting of two New York police officers, one of whom died, misstated the schedule set by a judge for a trial in the case. The […]

    I’m catching up on two years of sleep…

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    Working on the endnotes, bibliography and acknowledgments now. (It never, ever ends). AAJA convention in Miami at the end of this week. Will be back blogging full force in a few days.

    Wow. The cardboard in porkbun story was a media hoax to get ratings?

    Thursday, July 26th, 2007

    So a few weeks ago there was a huge ruckus about a Chinese television report that showed a vendor mixing cardboard into his bun filling in Beijing. It ran around the world — picked up by CNN and Fox News — because it seemed so resonant with the dominant narrative at the time (food scandal […]


    Thursday, July 26th, 2007

    i’m hungry.

    Wakiya’s Menu

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

    Here is a look at Wakiya’s menu, courtesy of Menupages. The restaurant Web site claims (when are they going to update that thing?) “It will offer a new style of Chinese cooking inspired by the traditional food of Shanghai and Northern China. Currently not available in America, this new genre of Chinese cuisine is rich in imagination and dynamically […]

    More Culinary Xenophobia? Pat Oliphant’s Chinese Restaurant Cartoon

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

    Click to enlarge. Lots of debate in the Asian American circles over this Pat Oliphant cartoon commenting on the recent food issues in China. If you can’t tell well enough. It depicts a well-to-do white couple in an alleyway behind the “Inn of the Lucky Happiness Chinese Restaurant” picking through scraps from dumpsters and trash […]

    A How-To Menu Guide for all the Laowai!

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

    Ben Ross in China has compiled three years of culinary exploration into a very handy guide to ordering Chinese dishes in China, complete with pictures, phoenetics, and descriptions at It’s also useful for people who want to order “off the menu” or more authentically at an American Chinese restaurants. It’s not the most aesthetically […]

    Don’t Talk to Me Until Friday

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

    Final final manuscript due Thursday. Meanwhile, I eliminated a chapter, consolidating it into another. And am rewriting two chapters after I decided the prose was mediocre. (And I read Harry Potter 7, which makes you appreciate how elegantly everything is constructed)

    Forget singing. Try reading aloud to yourself in the bathroom.

    Thursday, July 19th, 2007

    So my editor, my agent and my friends have all recommended that I read the manuscript to myself out loud as I do the final fine-tooth line-editing. When you read it out loud, it is like music. If something is off, you can tell immediately. Each paragraph, sentence, word has to justify its existence in […]

    Done! (4th time) Now for the factchecks…

    Thursday, July 19th, 2007

    Woke up this morning to the UPS delivery guy at the door with the last hand-edited chapter of my book (both my Jon Karp and Nate Gray, his assistant). Entered those edits just now. Which means, I just have the changes that are coming in from fact checking. Yay. Then to the production side next […]

    Imagine if America only had 100 restaurants today. That was China’s culinary scene in in 1976

    Thursday, July 19th, 2007

    Oliver August‘s new book was released yesterday — Inside the Red Mansion: On the Trail of China’s Most Wanted Man (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). It is the product of seven years of working, hunting for Lai Changxing, a country-boy turned billionaire fugitive and a fascinating tale of how China is wrestling with its new freewheeling wealth. […]

    US and North Korean nuclear envoys meet on neutral ground: Chinese restaurant

    Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

    The AFP writes about how the US and North Korean nuclear envoys met in Beijing and went off to a Chinese restaurant. Given that they are in China, perhaps this is not so surprising (but then again, they did chose to meet in China — neutral territory?). But this brings to mind another “dining diplomacy” […]

    So why are Chinese restaurants all over the world? (Because the Chinese are all over the world)

    Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

    Professor Peter Kwong, who studies Chinese immigration and labor issues, has an amazingly detailed piece about the Chinese diaspora on the Yale Global web site. About 180 million people around the world have moved countries since the end of the Cold War, about one-tenth of them are Chinese. The Chinese have spread to 150 countries. […]

    Ouch! Scathing review of NYC Wakiya @ Gramercy Park Hotel on Chowhound

    Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

    So it’s friends and family week at Wakiya. And the reviews are trickling in. One anonymous one at Chowhound is particularly scathing — saying they found it “HIGHLY disappointing, overpriced & disorganized” (caps in the original). Their check for 3 came to something like $280 (Ouch!). This blogger is kinder, saying it was one of […]

    Done! (for the third time)

    Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

    Okay. I am done entering all the line edits and cuts (a lot of cuts) and major rewriting. Only one chapter was really in bad shape (out of 20ish, not so bad). I have completely gutted that chapter (2/3 of it is gone). Now all that is left to polish it — while not procrastinating […]

    Dispatches from Wakiya (the Tokyo, not NYC, version) — one of the Best Chinese Restaurants in the World

    Monday, July 16th, 2007

    As New York ramps up for the launch of the Yuji Wakiya’s eponymous restaurant in the Gramercy Park Hotel, it might be interesting to look at the original Wakiya in Tokyo. That restaurant is discretely tucked away in an alley in Akasaka, an upscale neighborhood known for its ryotei, discrete high-end restaurants favorbed by Japanese […]

    Chinatowns, urban redevelopment and Hooters!

    Sunday, July 15th, 2007

    Carol Huang writes about the Chinatown landsqueeze across the country in The Christian Science Monitor (yes, I’m a bit late, but I was finishing my last chapter so I missed this piece and stay with me, I’m getting the Hooters point). The piece basically points out that Chinatowns have stopped being gateways for new immigrants […]

    WP: Culinary xenophobia? A Taste of Racism in the Chinese Food Scare?

    Sunday, July 15th, 2007

    Jeff Yang discusses the China food scare in today’s Washington Post Outlook section — in a piece titled “A Taste of Racism in the Chinese Food Scare.” Culinary xenophobia is a fascinating topic, and long tied into the Chinese presence in America from its earliest days. (see my General Tso’s Kitty post from before). Jeff […]

    I’m done! (for the second time)

    Sunday, July 15th, 2007

    Just handed in a draft of the last missing chapter to the editor. So I’m sorta done! I would feel like celebrating, but now I have to enter the results from the factchecking and the edits for chapters 12 onwards. It never ends… This does not compare in anyway to my friend Sugi, who has […]

    Fortune Cookie Fiction: Does someone secretly listen to our dinner conversations and write custom fortunes?

    Saturday, July 14th, 2007

    A number of people have sent me links to fortune cookie-related art (short story, drawings, even a short film!). The cultural fascination with fortune cookies, particularly with fortune cookie scribes, is So I will start rolling them out over time. Here is a story from Carl Lang (who Facebook messaged me) about a guy whose […]

    Daniel Brook’s The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America

    Thursday, July 12th, 2007

    This recently released book by Daniel Brook (who shares my agent Larry Weissman) is a provocative look at how a winner-takes-all society sucks the best and the brighest away from public interest fields that can better society. Rick Perlstein gives a thoughtful analysis of the book. Daniel will be doing a reading on Monday Jan […]

    So, when is a font racist?

    Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

    So today, I got a burst of traffic from a link from AngryAsianMan, a popular and well-regarded blog on Asian American issues. From that traffic, I got the following feedback comment on the chingchongy font that “THE FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES” is written in along the top of the blog, which I found intriguing. Angry Asian […]

    Cocooning myself to meditate on The Greatest Chinese restaurant in the world (outside Greater China)

    Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

    I’m back, shaking off jetlag, from with one last chapter to write: The hunt for the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world outside Greater China (which is subtly different from “best Chinese restaurant in the world outside Greater China,” because one can be the greatest restaurant without being the best.  (The chapter explains) This crazy search […]

    Long-awaited Wakiya is now taking reservations starting July 25th!

    Friday, July 6th, 2007

    Eater informs us that Chinese-Japanese-French Wakiya at the Gramercy Park Hotel is now taking reservations: (212) 995-1330. It has taken more than a year and a half for Ian Schrager to get his upscale Chinese restaurant as Alan Yau of Hakkasan dropped Park Chinois (what is with all the French-Chinese?)  earlier this year because of […]

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