The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | February 24, 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 more astounding because it has happened without a single corporate force plotting the dominance of egg rolls and fried rice. Lee, a Chinese-American reporter for New York Times, traces the roots of the innovations that helped make the cuisine ubiquitous, including chop suey (San Francisco), fortune cookies (Japan), takeout containers (Hazelton, Pennsylvania), delivery (New York), and soy-sauce packets (Totowa, New Jersey). The book’s unifying conceit–tracking Powerball winners who used fortune-cookie lucky numbers–never quite congeals like MSG-laden brown sauce, but Lee throws in enough tasty morsels to make this book a pretty satisfying meal. –David Lidsky

    We can debate whether the unifying conceit congealed or didn’t congeal. But one small point is that the conceit is actually tracking the path of the Powerball fortune cookies, not the winners themselves (which are over and done with in chapter 1).

    So restaurants –> winners –> distribution –> factory. Interwoven with the origin of the fortune cookie, which goes San Francisco –> Los Angeles –> Kyoto, Japan.


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