Yesterday a friend and I lunched at a Chinese restaurant (well, it’s supposed to be Chinese) and one of the subjects discussed with intrigued was the Fortune Cookie.
Did you know that this originates from the US? From a Chinese restaurant in California and not China. Once called Fortune Teacakes it is claimed to be invented by a Hong Kong noodle manufacturer cum restaurant owner in San Francisco. (The Japanese have their own story but also with a starting point in California.)
Its shape is supposed to represent the ancient Chinese currency (nugget-like) and this unique cookie has spread to Chinese restaurants in Australia, Europe, parts of S. America but strangely, not to China.
It usually comes with a so-called Quote or Message and on its back, lotto numbers and Chinese to English word(s) translation. There have been times when the translation parts were so out-of-whack, I wondered if the translator had hit the wrong key or was drunk at the time of work.
I’ve asked many servers from China and Taiwan (working in the US) if these are given out by restaurants in their countries. They’ve all giggled with heads shaking (not nodding). I know they are unknown in Singapore & Malaysia.
So how did they become an icon of Chinese restaurants when not even heard of in China? Beats me. 😕
(Another subject which surprised my American friend was the Egg Roll ~ forthcoming post.)