The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

  • #26 on the New York Times Best Seller List
    and featured on The Colbert Report, Martha Stewart,, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose Tomorrow, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR stations coast to coast. Also selected for Borders Original Voices and Book Sense. Follow me on Twitter! Fan me on Facebook.

  • Archive for February, 2008

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    Egg Drop Scoop in Rachel Ray

    Friday, February 29th, 2008

    We got a 75%-page feature in the March issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray called “Egg Drop Scoop,” one of the ever growing number of puns off Chinese food.

    Five-star review from

    Friday, February 29th, 2008

    Fortune Cookie Chronicles got a nice five star review on from Rhonda Parkinson, (ignore the fact that the NYTimes owns, I have absolutely nothing to do with that). The Fortune Cookie Chronicles is an intriguing exploration into a world of Chinese restaurants, a subculture that remains unknown to most of us. My one […]

    I’ll be on The Colbert Report on March 4th

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

    We booked it a while ago, but finally confirmed it. Thank god the writers’ strike is over!

    More Fortune Cookie Memoir: from Bill Stephens

    Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

    I’ve become quite the magnet for fortune cookie tales both real and fictional. Bet you didn’t know there was a whole genre of fortune cookie writing, but there is. Bill Stephens sent me an excerpt, chapter 25, for book proposal, ‘Uncorking & Forking: It’s Been a Good Life.’” Uncorking & Forking: It’s Been a […]

    A meta-fortune cookie fortune

    Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

    Barbara Brown sent this photo to me and a message: “Heard your intrview on NPR yesterday and wanted to share my favorite fortune ever. After a birthday dinner one year I opened my fortune cookie and read, ‘Ignore previous fortunes.’ I’ve never met anyone else who has gotten that fortune, nor do I want to. […]

    A childhood of Chinese moms and dessert struggles

    Sunday, February 24th, 2008

    In my Food and Wine piece, I talk about how desserts totally mystified my family growing up — specifically these “bake sales.” Then I got a note from Patricia Ryan telling a sweet but sad story of her mother struggling with making desserts in her childhood.

    Fast Company compares Fortune Cookie Chronicles to MSG-laden brown sauce,

    Sunday, February 24th, 2008

    Fortune Cookie Chronicles gets a little blurb in Fast Company this month by David Lidsky, which comes out more positive than negative I suppose. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food By Jennifer 8. Lee There are twice as many Chinese restaurants in the U.S. as McDonald’s, an accomplishment all the […]

    Video: Watch fortune cookies being handmade in Japan

    Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

    Here, on the New York Times site, is the  video of fortune cookies being made in Japan that went with my article. I’m not sure why they only put some videos on YouTube (about 150 at last count). Sadly, they don’t give you the ability to embed it either in the blog.

    Welcome to General Tso’s hometown! Xiangyin, Hunan

    Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

    This is the billboard from when I visited General Tso‘s hometown in rural Hunan province in my journey to find the source of General Tso’s chicken. (yes he is real, he played a huge part in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion, started by a guy who thought he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ) It […]

    A reading at the busiest branch of the busiest library system: Flushing Library, June 2, 6 p.m.

    Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

    This appearance is waaaaay in the future. But I am speaking at one my absolute favorite libraries in the United States — the Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library — on June 2 at 6 p.m. The Flushing branch is the busiest branch of the busiest library system in the country. (Perhaps also the […]

    Hong Fu, you have to wonder if this was meant with irony

    Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

    Driving along in Cupertino. Again, had to stop and take a picture

    NPR’s All Things Considered, today (Wednesday) at 5:50 p.m.

    Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

    Updated: 6:25 p.m. | So my first national media interview will air today (Wednesday) at 5:50 p.m. on NPR’s All Things Considered with Michele Norris (who was an electrical engineering major, I discovered). The audio file will be available online around 7 p.m. Thank god for excellent editing!

    Book Page Review

    Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

    Another review, this time from Book Page. Sorry for the jpg. I converted it from a pdf. More on Book Page: On or before the first of March, 440,000 copies of this issue will arrive in more than 3,000 subscribing bookstores and public libraries nationwide. Next month, this review will also be available to the […]

    A (brief) five star rating on Amazon?

    Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

    I checked Amazon today and was surprised to see that my book is already in stock though launch day is not for another two weeks. (But don’t buy it yet. It’s better if everyone buys in the same week). Even more surprising, I already have a five star rating (which with one review, means I […]

    You CAN judge a book by its cover. So what does mine say?

    Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

    The Fortune Cookie Chronicles cover gets a shout out by designer Christopher Tobias on his Outerwearforbooks blog as part of his Non-fiction Cover Genius Awards, launched Feb. 14. As he puts it: Why do fiction books get all the glory? In my experience non-fiction is often more of a challenge to design than fiction. I […]

    Food and Wine: My struggles with the oven

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    The March issue of Food and Wine runs my essay on my struggles of learning how to use the oven. One of my favorite essays on food, by Jhumpa Lahiri, about how her parents would carry food back from India to Rhode Island before the days of easily accessible ethnic supermarkets, ran in this exact […]

    How to explain the Book of Leviticus in an atheist nation? China embraces Kashrut

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    In keeping with one of my favorite themes: Jews, Chinese and food: The Chinese have gone Kosher, as Ching-Ching Ni explains in a fascinating piece in The Los Angeles Times from earlier this month (I’m catching up with my inbox!). According to Ching Ching’s piece,  China is now the world’s fastest-growing producer of kosher-certified food, […]

    Fortune Cookie Chronicles, recommended in Glamour Magazine!

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    Got an e-mail from my friend Eric with the subject line: “Just saw your book in glamour magazine.” He then wrote, “It was recommended reading by their book reviewer – you were grouped with 2 other books by female authors – cindy saved it” So I made my way to Borders, bought my copy of […]

    A Persian-Italian-American restaurant?

    Monday, February 18th, 2008

    I saw this while driving around Cupertino with my friend Janet, and was so amused that I made her stop the car so I could take a picture. So the restaurant is called Arya. I checked out their menu and was disappointed that they didn’t actually blend the cuisines, rather it offers dishes from all […]

    Book Forum Review: 80/20 or 75/25

    Saturday, February 16th, 2008

    A thoughtful review in Book Forum written by Melanie Rehak (who wrote a very cool book on Nancy Drew called Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her). Review is mostly positive, with some apt criticisms. It think it’s like 80 percent favorable, 20 percent negative, or maybe 75/25. Overall, pretty good review. […]

    The Fortune Cookie Chronicles Heads Down Under…

    Saturday, February 16th, 2008

    Counterpoint, an Australian radio program, interviewed me in depth about the book. The interview will be available for about a month. I was quite impressed with how much they knew about the book, to the point where I assumed they must have read it. Then my next thought was “Did we mail a copy of […]

    Library of Congress confirmed for March 17th

    Saturday, February 16th, 2008

    From Abby Yochelson: Monday, March 17th at 12:00 noon in the Mumford Room, 6th floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue, SE. The program is being sponsored by the Humanities & Social Sciences Division, the Asian Division, and the Center for the Book. I am working on my Keynote presentation right now. It’s very […]

    Nixon Library in Los Angeles area, late March

    Thursday, February 14th, 2008

    I just got booked at the Nixon Library for a day in late March. Address is 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd in Yorba Linda, Calif. More details to come. Nixon, of course, played a large role in sparking interest in Chinese food in the United States when he went back to China in 1972. As one […]

    General Tso shares an issue with Maxim with a semi naked April Lavigne.

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

    This is the March issue of Maxim magazine with my piece on the origins of General Tso’s chicken. For some reason I find this all very amusing. My research is sharing pages with “Why Women Secretly Love Porn.” (Why do we secretly love porn?) One of the cooler things they did was take pictures of […]

    When Fortune Cookies will be in The New York Times Book Review

    Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

    Scheduled for The New York Times Book Review on March 9th, supposedly. Nervous. Ugh.

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