Monday, January 23, 2012

Fortune Cookies from Non-Chinese Restaurants? (& other stuff)

Did you read the article by Addie Broyles in the Austin American-Statesman last Wednesday? I posted about it here. What you didn't see in that post is this screenshot of the newspaper version:

In the print version of the article, Broyles calls me an "aficionado" and includes a photo. So that's fun. 

In my interview with Broyles, I mentioned that I have received fortune cookies from non-Chinese restaurants, a fact she included in the piece. My niece had pho in San Antonio last week and sent this erroneous not-a-fortune, adding evidence to my theory that fortune cookies are so seeped in Americans' collective expectations of what should accompany any vaguely Asian meal that even non-Chinese restaurants now feel compelled to engage in the practice.
"I spent the time prepare the song, while the song is not being sung."
Huh? For what it's worth, Nici's dining companion, affectionately known to me as The Mange, received a not-a-fortune that said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Reliable fortune cookie insert sharer Pam sent this photo, saying her "cookie had a fortune," and her "sweetie's had a pep talk." When I responded that I loved and needed both in my life right now, she included the hashtag #peptalkcookies in her reply. Perfect.
"You will soon witness a miracle."
"Don't underestimate yourself. Your social skills are needed by others at this time."

It's January 23, 2012, and you know what that means: the Chinese (or Lunar) New Year. This is the Year of the Dragon and is said to be very auspicious, as the dragon indicates power and good fortune. The Atlantic has some beautiful, powerful photos of people ushering in the New Year here. Do you have plans to celebrate?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not-a-Fortune Gets Some Nice Press

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Austin American-Statesman food writer Addie Broyles when she interviewed me for an article leading up to the Chinese New Year (Jan. 23rd). Titled "The fascinating origins of fortune cookies," it is available here

Broyles references Jennifer 8. Lee's book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, which I blogged about in July of 2010. She writes about Matt Kelsey's blog "My Daily Fortune," that chronicles his year of playing the lottery based on the numbers listed on the back of fortune cookie inserts. Kelsey guest blogged for me in March of 2011. Broyles's article also mentions Dorothy Huang, who taught this Chinese New Year cooking class Audriella and I took at Central Market in January of 2010 and this Chinese New Year cooking class Erin and I took (also at Central Market) last year. I am sad I won't be in attendance at Huang's class this week but I promise to bring in the Chinese New Year in another way (will it be as fun as the year Myrtle, Erin, and I made dinner, attempted to make our own fortune cookies - to limited success - and lit sparklers?). Anyone want to get together and eat some Chinese food, crack open some fortune cookies, and talk about how great the Year of the Dragon will be? 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

V's Happy Life

Last Thursday I met my friend and former next-door neighbor V for dinner at the MoPac location of Chinatown

Though it is often hard for me to believe it has been so long, almost four years have passed since V and I were neighbors. No longer able to chat in our driveways and wave to each other on the way back from getting the mail, we have to be more insistent about scheduling time together. Over the years, our socializing has taken the form of meeting for drinks, going to the movies, eating dinners out, enjoying Austin's live music scene, and making an appearance at a downtown establishment that, in hindsight, may have been a little out of our league (or a little below our age bracket- though fun was had by all).

V made early contributions to the blog, sharing her fortune cookie superstitions and her daughter's actual fortune (with a sweet story of her husband's plan to keep the insert) in January and March of 2010, respectively. I can't fault her for not appearing on the blog in the past two years, as she gave birth to twin boys on my birthday in 2009 (I'm sure she planned that) and has been living the minivan dream ever since (apologies for the inside joke). V, her now-two-year-old boys whose smiles are infectious, her supportive, charming husband, and her talented, smart, sassy daughter are building and living a happy life together. 

When we were planning our outing for last week, we quickly dismissed the idea of seeing a movie in favor of dinner- safer to chat that way, especially safer than at Alamo Drafthouse, where they are serious about talking and texting. In deciding where to meet, V asked, "Is there a yummy Chinese place we could go?" We considered the different parts of town we would be coming from and decided on the centrally located Chinatown. It was then that V said, "I finally get to have a fortune with you!" What?! How was it possible that in almost seven years we had never had Chinese food together?

V had the sesame chicken; I had the orange peel beef. She opened her cookie first (and I believe added "in bed" to the end when she read it aloud):
"Your life will be happy and peaceful."

Unlike V, I did not receive an actual fortune:
"You have a deep appreciation of the arts and music."
This isn't even that original of a not-a-fortune. It's very similar to the not-a-fortune I received at my birthday dinner with Amy and Colleen (but insisted on trading for an actual fortune), for example.

I must have seemed disappointed in my not-a-fortune because V offered to trade inserts. She said a happy and peaceful life is what she wants for me. What a friend I have in V!

But you know what? I do have a deep appreciation of (for?) the arts and music, and V and I share that, which is why we go to movies and concerts (front row at Ray LaMontagne, Citizen Cope's killer acoustic set at the Cactus Cafe - both memorable). That makes for a happy life. Thank you for spending those moments with me, V. I appreciate you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holiday Round-Up

Yes, I know the holidays have passed. However, my friends and I received these inserts during and around the winter holidays, hence the title of this post. An alternate title could have been something along the lines of "Everything Collected Since the Post Before the Last Post (the one about the Fortune Chicken)" but that seemed a bit cumbersome.

First, a bit of housekeeping: for those of you who are keeping track (probably just my friend ARM in CA), I took care of the potential fire hazard I wrote about in November immediately after publishing that post. You can put away your fire extinguishers.

Agostinelli sent me this not-a-fortune from the inside of a Baci chocolate at the end of November, the day after my post before the last post (the one about the Fortune Chicken).

 "If God had not created woman, he would not have created flowers."
[This is attributed here to Oscar Wilde. My very brief internet research ascribes it to Lord Byron; my admittedly limited knowledge of both leads me to believe the latter over the former if pressed to choose between the two.]

 Colleen sent me this photo from her family's traditional Christmas Eve Chinese food meal. (Completely unrelated: I love her family. LOVE.)
Colleen: "You look pretty."
Her mother: "You love challenge."
Her father: "You have a lively family."
Her middle brother: "It is not in your character to give up."
Her youngest brother (not pictured): "Simplicity in dress suits you."
[I believe I know this family well enough to say that each of these inserts, though not an actual fortune, is perfectly matched to its recipient.]

 So this is pretty funny. My friend in CA, mentioned above in reference to the potential fire hazard, forwarded this from her father on New Year's Eve:
"There are times for burps and belches. This is not one of them."
I could not agree more. 

 Erin labeled this actual fortune the entrails of her third course (by that she means the fortune cookie insert; I didn't get it at first, either):
"Your nurturing instincts will expand to include many people."
While the cookie insert can speak to Erin's future more soundly than I can, I can attest to her nurturing capabilities. Those who find themselves the beneficiaries of her guidance and encouragement will be better for it.

 These from my friend Frank (have you read his blog yet?):
"Much more grows in the garden than that which is planted there."
[My father is a gardener. While I think he would agree with this not-a-fortune, I also think he would identify much of the extraneous growth as weeds (for what it's worth).]
"We cannot do great things; only small things with great love."
[Eh. I might quibble with that.]
"Make two grins grow where there was only a grouch before."
[Um, what now?]
"Your heart will always make itself known through your words."

This not-a-fortune is mine- hooray! 
And I must say, the realist in me agrees.
"Emotion hinders your true self."

 From Pam, one *almost* and one actual fortune:
"You could make a name for yourself in the field of medicine."
"The star of riches will shine on you beginning next month."

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this post. Soon I will write about fortune cookie wrappers. I have amassed quite a collection over the past couple of years. Do you have any you'd like to share?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chickens Can't Tell Fortunes...

or can they? On New Year's Eve, My friends (and reliable Not-a-Fortune enablers) UnScurvyGirl and Mr. Fabulous gave me this Fortune Chicken:
Made in the Netherlands, Fortune Chickens are to be smashed "in times of confusion or great despair." 

Pre-smashed Fortune Chicken:


After a series of stomps, the Fortune Chicken revealed its message.

The only remaining photo I have of the Fortune Chicken's insert is terribly blurred. However, it reads:
"You are not an accident. The world needs you."

While smashing the Fortune Chicken did not result in delivery of an actual fortune, I can think of few more life-affirming, celebratory ways to usher in a new year than being told the world needs you. Not just one person- the whole world.
[Note: I cannot resist making a reference to the Friends episode where Phoebe gets a tattoo of the whole world (in actuality it is the size of a freckle- she was afraid of the needle). Rachel: "Phoebe got the whole world."]
Thank you to UnScurvyGirl and Mr. Fabulous for this unique contribution to the blog.

Related sidenote: I came across a song titled "Fortune Tellin' Chicken" by Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (of Kids In the Hall fame). Other than a few spoken-word lines in the beginning it is instrumental, but the video is interesting. For instance, would you like to ask a chicken a question like "Am I pregnant?" How about "Does Mom like me the best?" or "Did the chicken cross the road?" Follow this link and see for yourself.