The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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    Booklist Review: More a summary than a review

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | January 17, 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 investigates the murky origins of chop suey, which for decades peculiarly defined Chinese cooking for many Americans despite the fact that the dish appears nowhere in its putative homeland. In recent years a classic called General Tso’s Chicken has found its way onto virtually every Chinese American menu, and Lee meticulously chases this concoction back to its provincial roots. In an amusing chapter, Lee chronicles the unique bond between Chinese food and American Jewry despite Chinese cooking’s obvious conflict with kosher dietary proscriptions, both groups uniting in opposition to the dominant majoritarian culture. Documenting the less-savory aspects of America’s Chinese restaurant business, Lee lays bare the trafficking of illegal immigrants into kitchen servitude. She also hops from one world capital to another in a quest for the best Chinese restaurant. Extensive bibliography. — Mark Knoblauch

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