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Confucius say what the hell is this?
The modern fortune cookie was created is an American creation, with possible origins in Japan, not China. Thus to the Chinese the fortune cookie is entirely foreign.
The Fortune Cookie
Should we take this opportunity to reflect on the great Billy Wilder movie titled Fortune Cookie (and which starred Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon)?Great comedy, great satire, and an indictment of lawyers like John Edwards. A pretty complete package!
The drought has broken. It's been way too long since we had a "Ha Ha" post from Althouse.Whew, much better now.
I always thought that if I worked in the Chinese Fortune Cookie Manufacturing Plant, I'd sneak little fortune cookie notes that would say something like this:You have 3 hours to live.Your partner has herpies.Nobody likes you.
My father always, upon opening his fortune cookie, would act as if he were reading it and say 'Help, I'm a prisoner in a Chinese bakery.' The individual performances would vary, of course, in intonation, gestures, etc., but what is excellent in retrospect is that all of the performances made for one piece of performance art.Of course, I now carry the torch. And the other day I heard my nine-year-old daughter say, while eating with a friend, 'Help, I'm a prisoner in a Chinese bakery.'
"Chinese food" in America is American Chinese food, there is a big difference.And, in my personal experience, American Chinese food in the rural parts of the country where I've lived is uneatable.As an aside, when my asian friends had relatives visit America they would always take them to 7-11 so they could buy and eat beef jerky. For some reason they thought that this was the quintessential American experience. One more interesting experience. One of my friends immigrated from Taiwan to Atlanta (he was ten) where he played football with a lot of black folks. He quickly learned to use the N word when referring to his teammates and other black folks off the field. Apparently some time passed before he learned of his error.
"'Chinese food' in America is American Chinese food."Like any fine art, it depends on an audience to bring out the best in the artist. The Chinese exclusion laws in effect until the 1960s or so meant that there was no audience for good Chinese cooking until recently, and even now it's only in the big cities with large populations of Chinese immigrants. In NYC, there's wonderful authentic Chinese cooking, featuring the many different styles and provincial specialities, especially in the immigrant enclaves in Queens and Brooklyn. Even there, they bring out fortune cookies. Everyone enjoys the joke at the end of the meal.
No egg foo yung, no chow mein, no chop suey and no vanilla ice cream for dessert: why go to the middle kingdom?
Confucius say what the hell is this in bed.Bob, you forgot Ruth Anne's tip to use "in bed" at the end! Pshaw!
But seriously, a lot ethnic food that Americans eat have no resemblence to their country of origin.Fettucine Alfredo? Sure, it comes from Italy, but it's known as an American tourist dish, exclusively.Crab Rangoon?Created in the St. Louis' World Fair. (That Fair brought about a lot of great foodie ideas, didn't it? Hamburgers, hotdogs, Chinese appetisers. They existed before, but the Fair put them on the map)Not to mention the fact that what Americans call "Italian" is only Southern Italian, specifically Neapolitan cuisine. Same for Cantonese being the default "Chinese".No harm though. It's all good. Literally.
Springfield Cashew Chicken, ie, deep fried chicken chunks, in a brown sauce, with cashews and diced onions on top, spread over white or fried rice, was invented in Springfield, Missouri...and is awesome.
When Vietnamese people started immigrating to New Orleans in the 1970s, some found work in "Chinese" restaurants and went on to open their own. Not until the 1990s did they finally start marketing Vietnamese food to the non-Viet New Orleanians. It's been a wonderful addition to our cuisine. But my favorite mystery Asian food comes from little takeout places in predominantly black neighborhoods of New Orleans and probably elsewhere in the South. Ya Ka Mein soup is a sort of ramen or udon noodle soup topped with boiled eggs and onions, and featuring pork or beef. There are respected specialists, mainly middle-aged black women, who make it in their home kitchens and deliver it to these small corner groceries and little Chinese takeouts.This flicker photo label says it might have been brought back by black vets from the Korean war, but commenters at the site reference it back to the 40s.
I had a friend in college whose family was from Taiwan and who once refused to go into a particular Chinese restaurant because she saw too many "American Chinese Food" items on the menu. This always struck me as silly because, to some degree, it's useful to think of "American Chinese Food" as a necessity of marketing. And in areas without large ethnic populations or without a large enough population to support a more authentic menu, Chinese restaurants need to serve at least some "American Chinese Food" to attract enough customers.A similar situation concerns a friend of mine who was from Thailand who used to go in Thai restaurants and tell them to make the food super-duper spicy because even the highest level of spice in most American Thai restaurants was insufficiently authentic for her.
Beth--That sounds a lot like Nabeyaki Udon, except I don't think there are any onions in Nabeyaki.Not long after the cajun phase died out here, there was a mini-Udon phase. I get addicted to these foods and then can't find them anywhere. I'm still jonesing for a carob shake that only ever existed in one small shack in Westwood when I was a boy.
Oh, and rather than "in bed", add "except in bed". Even funnier.
Why shouldn't American Chinese food, or other local variants on originally foreign styles, be an authentic cuisine?
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