Jump to content

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles


ALB
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just finished reading a fascinating book, *The Fortune Cookie Chronicles* by Jennifer 8. Lee, about the origins and evolution of American Chinese food. The dishes on the menu at Chen's Gourmet are exactly the same as the ones found at just about any "Mom and Pop" Chinese carry-out restaurant anywhere in the U.S. And there are more of these carry-outs than there are McDonald's. Chen's is in my neighborhood and I am so bored by their food that it is my last choice option for an inexpensive meal when I don't feel like cooking.

I thought that book was fantastic also. I always wondered how Chinese families opened restaurants in small out of the way towns and how American Chinese food evolved to such a definite inauthentic list.. I highly recommend it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought that book was fantastic also. I always wondered how Chinese families opened restaurants in small out of the way towns and how American Chinese food evolved to such a definite inauthentic list.. I highly recommend it.

I just ordered this book. I'm assuming it's because these families can't really cook very well and hence they move to places with little or no competition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a great read, I got it from the library. I am known in my family for getting the WORST fortune cookie fortunes ever-one time, I didn't even get one, just an empty cookie. My fortune from my lunch at Blue Pearl last Friday-'You will be hungry again in one hour.'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just ordered this book. I'm assuming it's because these families can't really cook very well and hence they move to places with little or no competition.

What you will find out from reading the book is that restaurants were started all around the country by earlier waves of Chinese immigrants who had become citizens and had the language skills to deal with local bureaucracies in getting permits, etc. Then, through grapevines and some Asian restaurant industry journals, were able to sell their established businesses to later waves of immigrants from different regions of China, many of whom lacked English language skills. A very poignant chapter of the book deals with a Chinese accountant and his wife who supported themselves for years by working in NYC Chinese restaurants until they saved enough to buy an established business in a small town in Georgia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do you think about the author's criteria for selecting the best Chinese restaurant (outside of China/Taiwan/Hong Kong)? I believe she selected a restaurant in Vancouver as the best because despite it being upscale it was able to draw in Chinese clientele. I think if you can induce the generally frugal Chinese expats to eat high priced fancy Chinese, then you've done something right. On a tangent, I looked at Zentan's menu and I have no desire to eat there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very poignant chapter of the book deals with a Chinese accountant and his wife who supported themselves for years by working in NYC Chinese restaurants until they saved enough to buy an established business in a small town in Georgia.

A couple with a very ungrateful child.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, when the child is older and finds out he or she will say: "Y'all left NY to come here??"

It was way worse than that, unfortunately.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book at the beginning but my interest began to flag later. I made it to page 222 before lending the book to my husband to take on a trip. I expect to get back to reading it eventually. Actually, thinking about it, the chapter on that family and its troubles was kind of the beginning of the end of my interest in the book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...