Review: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

This book took me way too long to move up Mt. TBR and then once I was reading it, way too long to finish. Not because it wasn’t good — but because July is when two of my “must read now” books are published and a few library books hit too.

I don’t recall when I first became aware of this book, but I definitely have been thinking of it over the last few months since the Museum of Chinese in America opened Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy, their exploration of Chinese food in America. They’ll continue to be in parallel with Golden Venture featured in her book as well as their upcoming exhibit.

American Chinese food is, to me, a fascinating concept as it’s neither American nor Chinese – as the author found when she tried to trace General Tso in his home town and found the military hero, not the culinary genius.  This book almost couldn’t have been written without the show and tell of digital photography where she used her camera to show various dishes as she tried to track them across China. This coming from a woman who spoke Mandarin was essential as I don’t think she’d have gotten half the stories she did without that tie.

I loved the two-fold premise of the book, tracking the iconic fortune cookie from its creation in Japan, or maybe Korea, or possibly even California to the winning lottery tickets as well as the author’s own heritage. Her early chapters, and the final wrap including her father, who was “a PhD away from being a delivery man” being admonished not to leave menus when he brought food to a sick friend, reminded me a little of Steven Shaw’s Setting the Table as he was also a fan of Upper West Side Chinese. The book perfectly toed the line between memoirs and food & travel writing and is a fit for fans of both genres.

I especially enjoyed her trip around the world to find the “best” Chinese food. Such a fun part of travel. Although I’m not personally a huge fan of Chinese food, I might have to sample more of it.

2017 Reading Stats:

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