The For­tune Cook­ie Chron­i­cles: Adven­tures in the World of Chi­nese Food

Jen­nifer B. Lee
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Jews love Chi­nese food. Jen­nifer Lee argues fur­ther that Chi­nese food is now the typ­i­cal Amer­i­can food in gen­er­al. Why? Because there are more Chi­nese restau­rants in the Unit­ed States than all of the KFCs, Burg­er Kings, and McDon­alds combined! 

I had ter­rif­ic fun read­ing Lee’s book, packed with aston­ish­ing facts about Chi­nese cui­sine in Amer­i­ca. Chi­nese for­tune cook­ies were a Japan­ese inven­tion in the ear­ly 1900’s in Cal­i­for­nia. Chop suey, also invent­ed in Amer­i­ca, quick­ly became the most pop­u­lar food to eat in New York City restau­rants by 1900. And, one of my favorites, a chap­ter deal­ing with how Chi­nese immi­grants became rich by effec­tive­ly tak­ing chick­en McNuggets and slather­ing them with a sweet and spicy Asian-tast­ing sauce suit­ed to Amer­i­can tastes — Gen­er­al Tso’s chick­en. The good Gen­er­al nev­er tast­ed it in China. 

Lee also includes chap­ters on why Jews grav­i­tate to Chi­nese food, and about the famous kosher duck scan­dal of 1989 in Wash­ing­ton D.C., when ducks of mys­te­ri­ous prove­nance” made their way to a famous kosher Chi­nese restau­rant which then was shut down in disgrace.

If you like Chi­nese food, this book is a must read.

Don­ald Siegel is the author of the Kosher Chi­nese Cook­book: From Lok­shen to Lo Mein: The Jew­ish Love Affair with Chi­nese Food (Gefen Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, 2005).

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