The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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  • Archive for January, 2008

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    Washington Synagogue, March 17, with Politics and Prose

    Thursday, January 31st, 2008

    The event, scheduled for March 17, 2008 (a Monday), at a local synagogue is being held in conjunction with Politics and Prose, one of the venerable independent book stores. I’m all about the synagogues.

    The Books are Here!

    Thursday, January 31st, 2008

    I will post photos later. I was running out of the building so only caught a glimpse of the books in the package. The orange cover glows slightly — almost fluorescent.

    Story #3 on the Baghdad Chinese restaurant, this time by ABC

    Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

    Yet another story on the Baghdad Chinese restaurant (really, people love Chinese restaurants), this time a Reporter’s Notebook by Hilary Brown of ABC. This restaurant will soon be the most covered restaurant in all of Baghdad My favorite excerpts: There’s no menu so I had the bright idea of calling ABC’s Beijing bureau to find […]

    Szechuan and the City

    Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

    That is the cute but corney name for my Q&A in Publishers Weekly this week.

    Presenting the future of journalism…

    Sunday, January 27th, 2008

    I’m not even sure how I ended up at a karaoke bar in Koreatown with (mostly) sophomores on the Harvard Crimson on a Friday night. I start losing track of the years. I think they are the 136th guard.

    More on the Baghdad Chinese restaurant: no Sweet and Sour Pork

    Friday, January 25th, 2008

    Media just loves the Chinese restaurant in Baghdad story. The Times of Lonndon also takes alook at the Chinese restaurant in Baghdad with a piece that is horribly headlined: “Chinese chefs take a wok on the wild side in world’s most dangerous city.” Tidbits we learn It is probably the only non-Iraqi restaurant — and […]

    Even Hallmark is getting naughty with its fortune cookies

    Friday, January 25th, 2008

    Timothy Layman sent this Hallmark Card link to me. For $4.99 you can get it personalized and mailed for you (no need to lick your own stamp!) Outside: “You will have much success and happiness.” Inside: “In bed. Happy Valentines Day.”

    Read the The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

    Thursday, January 24th, 2008

      This is a plug, but a relevant one. Yesterday I went to a reading/presentation by Eric Weiner, the NPR resporter and author of Geography of Bliss, at the Rubin Museum in New York City. The Geography of Bliss is one of my favorite books of the last year. I was lucky to read an […]

    Soy sauce packet, writ large

    Thursday, January 24th, 2008

    This is just a random amusing shot of the cover of my book next to the Chinese takeout that we had for the the media luncheon last week. It’s very large and very orange. At this point I have talked about Chinese food in Boston, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor and New […]

    So did you like my book? A strangely satisfying compliment.

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

    From my friend Tim Layman, about my book: “It’s not that like I was expecting not to like it. But I was surprised how much I did.” Have had other double-edged compliments like that. From Seth: “I’m not even interested in Chinese food! But I liked your book.” Or this e-mail from my good friend […]

    Updated tour sked: Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

    I just got my updated book tour list for March for Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles. I will add them to Appearances page in a bit. We are still trying to nail down DC. Possibly a joint synagogue-bookstore event.

    Chinese restaurants return to Baghdad

    Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

    h The security situation must be improving in Baghdad: A Chinese restaurant has opened in the Karrada neighborhood. (There had been several Chinese restaurants in Baghdad beforehand, including two in the Green Zone, but all of them they had closed down as security got worse and worse). Menu is limited, but it includes dumplings. And […]

    Giving new meaning to “in bed” from fortune cookies. Chinese food pajamas

    Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

    My friend, Rachel Metz, saw these Chinese-food themed pajamas on sale at Daffy’s in Brooklyn this weekend. It kinda makes you wonder, what designer thought: there must be people who love Chinese food so much, they want to sleep with it.

    The long march of the fortune tea cake?

    Monday, January 21st, 2008

    Barry Popik, a compiler of etymological origins and contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary, has a nice compilation of early citations in newspapers for “fortune tea cakes,” “Chinese fortune cakes,” “fortune cakes” (some of the last one I dispute refer to the modern day fortune cookies because they seem more related to the French galette […]

    Booklist Review: More a summary than a review

    Thursday, January 17th, 2008

    More a summary than a review. Issue: February 1, 2008 The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. Lee, Jennifer 8 (Author) Mar 2008. 320 p. Twelve, hardcover, $24.99. (0446580074). 641.59. Lee traverses the U.S., China, and beyond in her quest to discover what has made Chinese food ubiquitous in America. She […]

    The cover design for fortune cookies.

    Thursday, January 17th, 2008

    I woke up the morning my fortune cookie story ran with emails from friends that were like “awesome layout” and “great design.” As I had waited until late for the story to go online and read it only online, I had no idea what they were talking about. I actually didn’t see the paper until […]

    Fortune Cookies are really from Japan.

    Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

    So today I have a story in The New York Times that points, persuasively, that fortune cookies originate not from China, but from Japan. There is neat slideshow by Sylvia Rupani-Smith and video by Sean Patrick Farrell. This was probably the most surprising outcome from the research of my book, and it is one of […]

    How did Japanese fortune cookies end up in Chinese restaurants?

    Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

    So how did Japanese fortune cookies end up in Chinese restaurants? That’s a bit of a mystery. This is what we do know, based on interviews with fortune cookie makers and articles written around the time. Turns out it’s relatively easy to trace the path of fortune cookies back to World War II, when they […]

    Even Colbert eats Chinese food! That means it’s American!

    Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

    So my friends just IMed me to inform me that Stephen Colbert — author of I am America and You Can Too! — started out by eating Chinese takeout on his show tonight. Unclear what it has to do with the writers’ strike, but somehow that was the impetus. He ate lo mein (unsure if […]

    Stressful day. Multimedia. Bullet points. Rebookings.

    Monday, January 14th, 2008

    Stressful day running around putting finishing touches on a Chinese food Dining story for this Wednesday that looks like it should be pretty good — involves a lot of multimedia (yay for Sylvia and Patrick, who put it all together, and Josephine, for making the video happen on such short notice). Also tomorrow, a big […]

    What do you do with the fortunes you want to keep?

    Sunday, January 13th, 2008

    So the biggest dilemma at the end of a Chinese meal: What do you do with a fortune cookie fortune you want to keep? Do you put it in your wallet? Do you tape it to your computer monitor or fridge? Do you collect them for a scrapbook project? Do yu stuff it in your […]

    New York State raids Chinatown restaurants for illegal fish

    Thursday, January 10th, 2008

    Elizabeth Dwoskin has a fascinating article this week in the Village Voice about New York State inspectors going around to Chinese restaurants fish tanks looking for illegally undersized tautog fish. (It’s illegal to catch one less than 14 inches long, but small fish are often considered more tender by the Chinese diners).

    Two more readings, one in Boston (well really Cambridge) and one in Los Angeles (well, really Pasadena)

    Thursday, January 10th, 2008

    Cary Goldstein just let me know that we have two more appearances tentatively scheduled. Harvard Book Store (they were smart to get!) on March 20 and Vroman’s in Pasadena on the 27th. Still more West Coast stuff and DC stuff to nail down.

    What it looks like 7 weeks before a book comes out…

    Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

    So seven weeks out from the book’s pub date (March 3), it’s all about waiting for the media stuff to gel, which is very unstable and unpredictable. Like just today, I was booked by a television show, dropped by a radio show, and picked up by another radio show. Also, there is all these politics […]

    This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed at home. This little piggy went to dim sum…and ended up roasted

    Monday, January 7th, 2008

    These two pigs were spotted in Jing Fong in New York City’s Chinatown after dim sum with friends (one who said “Ooh! Make sure to get the Christmas tree in the background). Given that Americans don’t like to reminded their food ever ran, swam, flew or breathed, this would probably not go over well with […]

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