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 June, 2008

    99 copies of book on the shelves (at the NYPL)

    Sunday, June 29th, 2008

    Previously, as I noted, as of May 1, there had been like 19 copies at the NYPL, with a bunch of holds. Then today, a  reader sent me an email saying they got a gigantic order in Just wanted to let you know that I finished reading your book this morning (I thought NYPL was […]

    Take Out: “General Tso’s Chicken Meets 24”

    Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

    I was flipping through Time Out New York yesterday when I saw this ad for Take Out, a feature film about a Chinese delivery man, and was amused that it quotes me: “General Tso’s chicken meets 24 — Jennifer 8. Lee, The New York Times.” This may be the first and only time I will […]

    Laundry. A Luxury.

    Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

    You know your life is really out of whack when you are excited (as I am) that I finally have a chance to do laundry. (I hear the dryer spinning in a peaceful whirl). I am just coming out of orbit now. I have an event this Sunday (Jews! Hamptons!) and another Monday. And then […]

    Radio: Radiowest, a one-hour interview with SLC’s NPR affiliate

    Monday, June 23rd, 2008

    This is my hour-long interview with Doug Fabrizio on KUER, an NPR affiliate out of Salt Lake City, for Radiowest. It’s very, very rare that someone will give you a whole hour — so I deeply appreciated the time. The audio file will be up for roughly three months the producer told me.

    Slate tries to explain Chinese menus with me.

    Monday, June 23rd, 2008

    I’m interviewed for an Explainer in Slate on the Chinese menu translations by Brian Palmer, lawyer. (Explainer, incidentally, is oft edited by a classmate of mine from high school and college — Dan Engber). So that is my tiny appearance on Slate.

    Artinsanal Chinese food? Chinese food truck in France

    Monday, June 23rd, 2008

    David Sax of deli fame sent me a photo of a Chinese food truck he stumbled upon in France! He writes: So there I was in a small town in the French countryside last Friday, picking up all sorts of cheeses, breads, and meats at a farmer’s market in the central square, when I came […]

    The official Chinese menu translations, a revealing look at Sweet and Sour

    Friday, June 20th, 2008

    I just did a post for the Times Olympics blog on the translation, which I will essentially put in a modified form below This is what they are trying to avoid: This month, the Chinese government has officially released its very long list of suggested translations for Chinese dishes in preparation for a tourist-friendly Olympics. […]

    WAMU: Kojo Nnamdi Show, and musings on radio interviews

    Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

    I finally got my chance to appear on the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU in Washington, which means that except for Chicago, I’ve been on all the major NPR markets: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia (WHYY’s building is soooo nice) + assorted markets in New Hampshire, Colorado. I have to […]

    The best Chinese restaurants in the world…sorta

    Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

    Here is an incomplete list of the some of the restaurants I visited for my chapter on the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world. This is not an endorsement for all of them, as you will find reading the chapter. Rather what my research turned up as interesting candidates. Not all restaurants here made it […]

    Fortune Cookie Chronicles as a QPB “Main Selection”

    Sunday, June 15th, 2008

    I heard from my publisher this week: Quality Paperback, an affiliate of Book of the Month Club, decided to use Fortune Cookie Chronicles as the Main Selection as opposed to (I think) just a regular or alternate selection. They are going to issue an early paperback (will this look like the permanent paperback?) Suddenly I […]

    Dim sum and Fortune Cookie Chronicles, June 22, 5 p.m. at Dim Sum Go Go

    Sunday, June 15th, 2008

    This is a cool even, put together by the ever organized Calvin Chen and the UPenn Asian American alumni group. (Love the invite!) June 22, 5 pm Dim Sum Go Go @ 5 East Broadway in Chinatown $20 for dim sum and fortune cookie book talk rsvp to

    Even more on the Baghdad Chinese restaurant

    Sunday, June 15th, 2008

    The AFP’s Benjamin Morgan writes a story on the Chinese restaurant in Baghdad confronting violence. It makes $40-$50 a ady. Modest by American standards, but 4 to 5x to what the co-owner was making back in China. There is endless fascination on this topic of Chinese food in Baghdad, including Craig Smith’s 2005 story for […]

    Toledo Blade: The book argues for a more honest and complex definition of “authenticity.”

    Monday, June 9th, 2008

    The Toledo Blade, out of the blue, publishes a review by Jennifer Day. And she quotes one of my favorite passages of the book, which has not been mentioned yet — my comparison of the unbroken fortune cookie to an unexpired lottery ticket. Article published Sunday, June 8, 2008 Fortune cookies open the door to […]

    Economist: Fortune Cookie Chronicles among top 10 selling books worldwide on China in May

    Monday, June 9th, 2008

    My brother IMed me a few days ago to tell me that Fortune Cookie Chronicles was mentioned on page 96 of The Economist (subscription required) in the types of books that interest people on China. I was surprised that this far out, it even ranks internationally (even within the narrow topic of China-related), because it […]

    LAT’s Steve Harvey on the Fortune Cookie mystery

    Sunday, June 8th, 2008

    Google alerts let me know today that Steve Harvey, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, does a whole column titled “Claims to original fortune cookies crumble under weight of research” around one of the central mysteries of my book. It’s one of the first times that there is an entire print piece that is […]

    Chinese takeout at the Next to Last Supper (Jesus was Jewish, after all)

    Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

    Mae just sent me a hilarious picture of the Last Supper, except parodied with Chinese takeout and fortune cookies, called the Next to Last Supper. She found it at Middle Earth, her favorite store for art.  Some people would argue, this makes sense. After all, Jesus was Jewish.

    Mexican fortune cookies, called dichos

    Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

    The Los Angeles Times food section did a recent piece on taco-shaped fortune cookies. As Tom Miller writes, Dichos, as the cookies are called, have been appearing at restaurants — Mexican and others — in southern Arizona in a haphazard pattern in which word-of-mouth has far outpaced formal distribution. Raul and Marina Montaño, the Douglas, […]

    I don’t have a talk for 10 days and I’m so happy

    Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

    This is my biggest stretch without a speaking engagement since I started doing book talks on March 3. (I did three talks in four days recently) Yesterday I did the Flushing Library, which is one of my favorite libraries from my childhood, but arguably brings out some interesting characters.