The Week In Books, No. 20

This week I learned a wealth of information about Chinese history and culture, Chinese immigration, Chinese-American life, Chinese food in its different iterations around the globe, and The Kosher Duck Scandal of 1989.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee (yes, 8 is her middle name) is written in a style similar to Michael Pollan’s books on food, in that it traces a number of fascinating aspects of a central topic. Lee was inspired to write the book when she read about a huge number of people who won a multi-state lottery by playing with numbers they got out of a fortune cookie fortune. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants and a journalist, Lee began tracing the lucky fortune cookies, and along the way discovered a lot of interesting things about her heritage and identity as well as about Chinese food in general.

I truly enjoyed this book and Lee’s writing style. She covers a wide variety of topics well, and manages to tie them all together in a satisfactory way. She even discusses the difference between real soy sauce and chemical soy sauce (I have long suspected there was a difference but now I know why!) in case you’ve wondered why you prefer Kikkoman’s to La Choy like I do (or vice versa). If only I wasn’t sick most of the time, I’d be hightailing it to Super 8 China tonight!

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