ð The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food À Download by ↠´ Jennifer 8. Lee 3.
5 stars An interesting historical and sociological look at the Chinese restaurant in mainly America and elsewhere Wow I learned some new things about the Chinese restaurant business, for example the huge huge clearing house type of network to find jobs in Chinese restaurants for Chinese immigrants and what many Chinese have to go through to even get to America Some pay as much as 60K just to get here mainly for fees The next time I sit in Chinese restaurant to eat I will do so with a different perspective and with appreciation of those who are working to serve prepare my meal I only give it 3.
5 stars simply because sometimes it did not hold my interest and some of the chapters could have been edited down but still a good, enlightening read Oh, one side effect of the book, you will crave Chinese food like crazy I bought take out cashew chicken at 9pm simply because I couldn t stand it any Everyone knows I like Chinese food This delightful book explores the history of American Chinese food, from chop suey to fortune cookies to General Tso s chicken What might appear to be a rather dry topic, turns out to be hysterical For example, not long ago, over 100 people won Powerball all over the country How could this statistically impossible thing happen Fraud Nope people were betting using the numbers suggested on fortune cookies Something I will begin to do, I might add Chop suey was so popular at the turn of the 20th century in New York, purveyors were on the NY Stock Exchange The dish became the most popular food in America, despite it not being Chinese at all Lawsuits occurred because Chinese in San Franciso and New York claiming rights to the recipe And as for General Tso s chicken, General Tso may have liked it, but the dish completely is an American concoction The author traveled to Tso s hometown in China to figure it out And, P.
F Chang s famous upscale Chinese Restaurant chain It s owned by an American so clueless about Chinese culture, that the decor symbolically represents death No culturally knowledgeable Chinese person would walk into the place for fear of what would happen to him I can tell you what would happen he d get sick over how bad the food is for the price he pays There are chapters on the best Chinese Restaurant in the world, the Jewish Chinese connection, why Chinese food is American than American pie and so on I read sections of it to Bette as I work through it, savoring each culinary chapter I ve contacted the author and we might do a dual program at the 93nd Street Y this year I d loan it, but Li Jin wants to read it next after Bette It will take some time to get out of the Siegel circle What fun If You Think McDonald S Is The Most Ubiquitous Restaurant Experience In America, Consider That There Are Chinese Restaurants In America Than McDonalds, Burger Kings, And Wendys Combined New York Times Reporter And Chinese American Or American Born Chinese , Jennifer Lee, Traces The History Of Chinese American Experience Through The Lens Of The Food In A Compelling Blend Of Sociology And History, Jenny Lee Exposes The Indentured Servitude Chinese Restaurants Expect From Illegal Immigrant Chefs, Investigates The Relationship Between Jews And Chinese Food, And Weaves A Personal Narrative About Her Own Relationship With Chinese Food The Fortune Cookie Chronicles Speaks To The Immigrant Experience As A Whole, And The Way It Has Shaped Our Country Wow It was such an interesting read I will recommend this book to anyone who is 1 Chinese American 2 ate at Panda Express or Pick up Stix 3 wonder who actually wrote the fortunes in fortune cookies I started reading the book with limited expectation as to how much it could enlighten me After reading it, I realized that the book has actually taught me a lot about the origin of things that we don t understand about american chinese food that sometimes may not be important enough for us to find out The surprise is, after you have learned the origins of all things insignificant, you begin to see how the culinary culture of American Chinese food gets established, and along the way, it has shaped some aspects of the American Chinese culture too I thoroughly enjoyed the book, best quote from it willingness to try new foods is a lucid reflection of one s curiosity about and acceptance of other cultures Eh I don t know how much of my lukewarm reaction to blame on my life context at the time I struggled to read this book during a seven day stretch with four kids home from school, no electricity, mile long gas lines, etc Not that I don t realize how lucky I was that things weren t worse for me in the aftermath of the serious storm we just experienced But sticking strictly to the book, I think it may have required a engaging read to provide me with the distraction I desperately needed Or maybe it s a good thing that I didn t feel compelled to read this by sorely inadequate candlelight.
The author, an American born Chinese woman ABC, as she calls it , makes a nice comparison between her hybrid cultural identity and the uncertain origins of so called Chinese cuisine in America She explores the various aspects of the Chinese food we know and love soy sauce packets, Jews and Chinese food, whether Chinese individuals would recognize chop suey or General Tso s chicken, and many chapters on fortune cookies which admittedly got a bit tiresome for me their origins, their production, their distribution, who writes the fortunes, etc This was one of those lightweight nonfiction reads that started out mildly entertaining and got old when I was only about 2 3 through It s possible I would have enjoyed this had I been in a better mood when I read it, so I m giving it three stars even though I think my reaction is probably of a two.
I waited longer for this book than any other I have ever reserved at my local public library, including the final Harry Potter book When I finally got the book, I understood why Despite the tantilizing topic of Chinese food, the book is actually not very engaging Each chapter told a different story, but within the chapter the writing jumped all over the place I also felt that the style was a bit lacking in places, as though I was reading a high school student s thesis rather than a professional journalist The chapter that suffered most from this was The Greatest Chinese Restaurant chapter, where Lee did not seem to have any idea what she was really looking for and bores the audience with her ramblings on the merits of completely dissimilar restaurants and how she can t possibly compare them, but she will I kept waiting for her to either offer factual proof of her theories, or at least voice her opinion, but frequently throughout the book she simply presents all sorts of ideas to the reader without bothering to follow them through to completion There were interesting bits and pieces throughout, and the subject of Chinese food is one that many will find tasty, but overall I was not impressed.
I was pretty shocked too A four star bestseller With the word Chronicles in the title, no less Ms Lee exceeds the expectations of her campy cover in this roundabout study of the Chinese Restaurant business in America The incredible saturation of new immigrants in this business allows the author to delve into human trafficking stories, follow families across continents and generations, through the US legal system and a vast web of Chinatowns across the globe She doesn t shy away from the ugly parts Chinese immigrants created niches for themselves in the laundry and food businesses because they were considered women s work, and no threat to American men s jobs All told, Lee makes a strong case for Chinese food as a distinctly American cuisine, tied up in our seemingly contradictory historical desires for comfort and adventure in our food.
Most impressively of all, Lee grapples with her own writerly vices, questioning her need to pin the history of an immigrant group or cuisine into neat individual stories The book s central search is for the origin of the Fortune Cookie, on the assumption that untangling its history will reveal some essential truth about the industry Lee recognizes the flaw of this search throughout, and makes the reader take in the fruits of the journey all along the way, rather than making weak justifications for process at the end I was happy to see this kind of transparency and introspection in a widely read book, that really asks us to question what we think we ll learn from these stories.
I especially recommend the chapter on the Kosher Duck Scandal of 1989, which occurred at the Royal Dragon across from my high school and unearths some really fascinating stuff about Jews and their Chinese food Also, the author s middle name is 8, and that s pretty awesome.
Not as much info on egg foo young as I d like just kidding but this casual cultural history of American Chinese food offered entertaining insights not only into the origins often American of dishes like chop suey and general tso s chicken but into the life of Chinese immigrants in general and Chinese immigrant restaurant owners in particular not an easy life especially for the kids The author travels all over the world from small town China to small town Georgia to try to better understand her our food and culture, producing some easily digestible nuggets geddit about the orgin of fortune cookies yes, they re really Japanese and the reason why Jews eat at Chinese restaurants on Christian holidays Although this won t be a draw for many, I got a particular kick out of the odd fact that the book begins and ends in Des Moines at a chop suey joint I ve never dared to enter but feel that I now must.
The basic premise behind this book is an interesting one using American Chinese cuisine as an object lesson, Jennifer 8 Lee wants to show that Chinese ness is a cultural value that can fuse with almost any other culture and yet still remain distinctively Chinese Unfortunately, the book is terribly edited It s at least 100 pages too long, repetitive, and poorly organized She ends the book two full chapters before it actually ends, which makes the final 30 or so pages of the book feel utterly extraneous Lee is a fine writer and clearly has a personal investment in the topic, but the editors needed to help her decide if she was writing a cultural history or a memoir Right now, the book suffers from a lack of this distinction.