Sunday, March 30, 2008

Review: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

When Jennifer 8 Lee visited Google, she gave her presentation about this book. Interspersed with video, photographs, and appropriate slides, she gave a rapid-fire talk in 40 minutes, covering the main themes of this book, intriguing enough for me to start reading that very afternoon while I was in the doctor's office.

Each chapter of this book is like a column in a newspaper --- it can be read independently of all the others. Topics covered range from the origins of the fortune cookie (which turn out to be Japanese), the nature of General Tso's chicken (which turned out to be a New York innovation), to how fortunes themselves get written.

Injected into all this are notes about the nature of being a Chinese immigrant from the 1800s to the modern age. Like her, I observed many Chinese students studying majors because their parents made them --- luckily for me and my brothers, we were all born engineers.

Most practical of all is an article about the Greatest Chinese restaurant in the non-PRC and ROC world, and her selection both surprises and intrigues me --- a Chinese restaurant in the greater Vancouver area that serves Chinese food Western style but has a first generation Chinese immigrant clientèle.

All in all, an entertaining and easy read (perfect for an airplane), but I would go for the Kindle edition or wait for the paperback --- there are no photographs or pictures in the book, which means that electronic form is the cheapest and best way to get it.
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