Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

When I'm searching the stacks doing pull/holds for patrons for the library, I'll admit to doing wee bit of shopping for my own reading pleasure.  Quite often looking for someones requested book takes me to sections of the Dewy that I don't visit when looking for something to new to read.

Such was the case last week when I came across this delightful book.

The book begins on March 30, 2005 with the drawing for the $84 million Powerball drawing.  Unbelievably 110 people picked the winning numbers.  Even stranger was that these were all hand picked numbers, not a single one of the winners were computer generated.

And so the digging begins with each winner being carefully questioned, to find out why the winners picked these numbers, only to discover they all used the lucky numbers from their fortune cookie.  No, this is not a spoiler, its mentioned on the cover in the front flap.

As Jennifer criss crosses first our country, and later spins her web of curiosity around the world, looking for the beginnings of fortune cookies.  Looking into the snakeheads, who for exorbitant fees, smuggle Chinese people to other countries, predominantly to the USA.  Why no matter what part of the country you live in, Chinese restaurants always have Chinese as waiters, kitchen staff and bus boys, and finally why so very few of them speak English.  Soy sauce wars both within our own country and abroad.  And finally answers where in the world is the best Chinese restaurant!

Jennifer has a light touch with her writing, keeping the reader glued to the book, flipping pages to see where it all ends up.  This book never lags or stumbles, but keeps you riveted on her various red herrings side trips on her quest to answer who invented fortune cookies.

What I found so fasinating was how widely adopted and adapted Chinese food is around the world.  One of her interesting findings is that in India, Chinese food is the second most popular cuisine eaten, with an Indian twist of course.

Chinese food has become so deeply ingrained in the American food culture that during the Iraq Invasion in 2003 two Chinese restaurants bloomed in the Baghdad Green Zone!  We think our our country's foodscape as little more than McDonald's, Burger King's and KFC's.  From sea to shining sea one long boring run of burgers and fried chicken. But like so much of common knowledge, its wrong.  We have more Chinese restaurants than we have of the big three chains added together!  Who knew that Chinese food was more popular than our iconic burger and fries?

EDIT!  I forgot to include the Powerball numbers: 28, 39, 22, 32, 33 and 42

And this  about Jennifer from wikipedia:
Lee was born on March 15, 1976 in New York City, to immigrants from Kinmen, an island off the coast of China's Fujian province.[7][8] Lee was not given a middle name at birth so she chose "8." when she was a teenager.[9][10][11] In Chinese culture, the number eight symbolizes prosperity and good luck. She graduated from Hunter College High School in Manhattan in 1994. She graduated from Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999 with a degree in applied mathematics and economics