The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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  • Chinese Food

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    The original General Tso’s chicken

    Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

    In all its glory, from Peng’s Agora Garden in Taipei. We filmed it very carefully.

    David Mamet On Jews and Chinese Food on Christmas

    Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

    Hipster Brooklyn Jewish Deli, Mile End, to Serve Chinese Food on Christmas

    Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

    Mile End Delicatessen, which is famed for its Montreal-style Jewish food (such as smoked meat), is drawing a ream of publicity for its decision to serve Chinese food on Christmas. (It’s of course had its share of press anyway. People love writing about Jewish food). They originally announced it on Twitter, “We’re taking reservations for our […]

    Japanese take on American takeout boxes. In City Centre Tokyo.

    Saturday, December 18th, 2010

    Wear Your Fortunes Around Your Neck! On Etsy.

    Friday, December 17th, 2010

    Love these fortune cookie fortune scarves on Etsy for $22. They read “Success is a journey, not a destination,” which is actually a fortune I have on a giant roll I got from Wonton Food.

    Hunting for Chicken in Taipei with the Wicked Delicate team

    Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

    I’m working on a documentary on Chinese food with the Wicked Delicate team — Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis — which gained fame with King Corn. We got a $40,000 development grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities [pdf]. So we headed to Taiwan for our first international shoot. Taylor Gentry, a great cinematographer, […]

    Fancy Fortune Cookies deal on Groupon!

    Saturday, November 27th, 2010

    I was amused to see that Fancy Fortune Cookies is doing a Groupon, $15 for $35 worth of cookies, in various cities. The owner of Fancy Fortune Cookies, Mike Fry, is a former Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus clown who had the vision of selling flavored fortune cookies come to him in a […]

    Fortune Cookie Fortune Nightstand

    Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

    In the guest room in Atlanta where I stayed. Total coincidence. The owner had been collecting them since she was young.

    Tour of New York City’s Chinatown Street Food

    Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

    As part of a fundraiser for the Asian American Writers Workshop literary festival this year, I am giving walking tours of New York City’s Chinatown street food as part of the Kickstarter project. It’s generally a 2.5 hour tour that is based on one I did for the French Culinary Institute students. It includes Xi’an […]

    95th Birthday Party Favors!

    Monday, October 25th, 2010

    Got this lovely email from a reader today. Love that they are being used as party favors. That’s awesome. I want to thank you very much for writing your book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. I am half-way through the book, but had read enough to be inspired to order 35 copies to give to guests […]

    Bilingual Fortune Cookies, in Spanish

    Sunday, October 24th, 2010

    A reader, Diane Woo, sent in bilingual fortune cookies in English/Spanish. She reports that they encountered these at China Won (aka China Wok), 8109 Fayetteville Road. We had Chinese carryout the other day and we got our usual fortune cookies with our order. When we opened the cookies and read the  fortunes, we were surprised to find one side […]

    Lovely Email From a Reader

    Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

    I got a lovely email today from a reader. These kinds of notes make my day. Dear Ms. Lee, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for writing The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. It touched on many points in my life and even though it’s been years since you finished it I find […]

    Back-to-back nights at Mission Chinese Food

    Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

    Went to Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco two nights in a row when I was in San Francisco. Upscale Chinese in a downscale setting, which has been getting a lot of attention. It’s cohabitating with Lung Shan, an old school Chinese restaurant. It’s like a hermit crab, living in someone else’s shell, except the other […]

    Haozhan in London: Modern Chinese with Flair

    Sunday, August 29th, 2010

    Haozhan was not open when I first went looking for the greatest Chinese restaurants in the world. Here is a pdf copy of its menu. And a sampling of the dishes we orderd.

    Portuguese egg tart, the predecessor of the Cantonese 蛋撻?

    Thursday, August 26th, 2010

    I was in Penang, Malaysia when I saw the Portugese egg tart, also known as pastel de nata, at a local dessert chain called Maxim’s. These are theorized to be an inspiration for the Cantonese egg tart, called dan ta (蛋撻), as they got to Hong Kong via Macau, a Portugese colony when the Portugese […]

    A Peek at the Menu at the New Majestic Restaurant in Singapore

    Friday, August 20th, 2010

    I paid another visit to The New Majestic, one of the restaurants I visited in my quest for the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world. We went there with Don and Laura, freshly married folks. When I visited in 2006, it had just opened. It continues. Lots of high-end ingredients (shark fin, abalone etc.) and […]

    Chinese Restaurants circa 1100 AD in the Khmer empire?

    Monday, August 16th, 2010

    Chinese restaurants have a long history. And perhaps one of the earliest recorded instances are found on the walls of the Bayon Temple within the Angor Thom complex in Cambodia (It’s one of the complexes within the Angor Wat area). Bayon was built in the late 1100s or early 1200s century as the official state temple […]

    Is there a connection between the Dutch and the Japanese fortune cookies?

    Sunday, August 15th, 2010

    I went to the National Museum of Singapore, and spotted these Dutch “pancake grills” that carry an incredibly strong resemblance to the Japanese kata that were used to make the original fortune cookies. It made me wonder if there was a Dutch influence to the original fortune cookies. The cookies made here seemed to be […]

    Fried Rice Paradise, Coming to a Theatre Near You

    Saturday, August 14th, 2010

    Was in Singapore subway station when saw a poster for “Fried Rice Paradise,” a musical. Really. As the website blurbs itself: Fried Rice Paradise is set invibrant Jalan Calamansi inhabited by colourful characters. There is Bee Lean whose father owns a coffeeshop selling fishball noodles. Together with her friends Girly Danker and Johan, she has […]

    Egg Foo Young Really Does Exist. As Egg Fu Rong

    Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

    I found this in Singapore. Unlike chop suey, egg foo young is based on a recognizable Chinese dish.

    Oops. Wrong Cookie?

    Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

    This fortune, which the host got during a taping of a PBS interview about my book, is one of the funnier fortunes I have gotten. It’s from Wonton Foods. Some fortune cookie writer had a sense of humor or was incredibly bored.

    General Tso’s Potato Chips, Now Available at Target

    Sunday, August 8th, 2010

    My friend Ross Baird sent in a photo of General Tso’s Thick Cut Potato Chips from a Target in Atlanta. The general continues his product expansion.

    Historic Fortune Cookie Grills Donated to the Smithsonian

    Friday, July 9th, 2010

    Breaking news! Gary Ono, who is descended from one of the earliest fortune cookie manufacturers, is donating historic fortune cookie grills, known as kata, to the Smithsonian — thanks to a connection I made. Armed with the contact information I gave the museum, research specialist Noriko Sanefuji went out to investigate and met Gary, who […]

    American Chop Suey, Available at Whole Foods

    Sunday, June 27th, 2010

    Photo of American Chop Suey at Whole Foods sent to me by Elisa Mala. I’ve long been perplexed by this dish, which is essentially macaroni, ground beef and tomato paste (plus some other stuff thrown in). It’s a fairly popular dish, based on how many people cook it. How did this become American chop suey? […]

    Crak Bam Dot Mah Johngg

    Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

    I’m excited. My chapter on Jews and Chinese food is excerpted in a new book from 2wice Press. Other contributors include Maira Kalman, Isaac Mizrahi and Christopher Niemann. Flattered to be among them. It’s called “Crak Bam Dot Mah Jongg” and is edited by Patsy Tarr and developed in partnership with the Museum of Jewish […]

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