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Fortune Cookie Chonicles

by: Jennifer 8 Lee

New York NY: Twelve (Hachette Book Group) 2008, $24.99, Paperback
ISBN: 0-446-58007-4

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2009 Issue: 16(1) page(s): 21

This book chronicles eighteen Chinese food mysteries as the author seeks answers to them. The title touts an important one to her and explores where fortune cookies originated. Some others are for: Why is there a relationship between Jews and Chinese food? Why is chow mein the chosen food of a chosen people? Who was General Tso? What did Confucius really say about Chinese food? And, Why did so many people win lottery prizes thanks to fortune cookies?

This book fascinates but is not thorough in its exploration of many Chinese food chronicles. Though mesmerizing in many places, it jumps around as Lee travels chasing answers to her many posed questions. We enjoyed the read but were disappointed, for example, that there was no mention of messages centuries earlier in Chinese cakes. It is one omission among others. The author, a Chinese-American with great writing skills, would benefit with more in-depth knowledge from historical, culinary, and cultural volumes before trekking world-wide for answers.

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