How do you do it? What is your fortune cookie modus operandi? Â Do you crack open the cookie and read the fortune first, or do you crack, nibble, read, and then eat some more? Do you read your fortune and then, if you donâ€™t like it, steal your husbandâ€™s? (Not that I would do that, but I think Iâ€™ve heard of such a thing happening. Ahem.) Fortune cookies are rather fascinating, and it got me wondering about their origins.
According to Smithsonian.com, Â There has been a lively debate over who invented fortune cookies, but the leanings are towards the Japanese. Hereâ€™s an excerpt from the story by Jesse Rhodes:
Fortune cookies are most likely of Japanese origin. In the course of her detective work, Nakamatchi came upon a handful of family-owned bakeries near a Shinto shrine in Kyoto who continued the local tradition of making tsujiura senbei (“fortune crackers”). Flavored with sesame and miso, the cookies are larger and browner than their American cousins, and the little paper fortunes are found on the outside, held in the cookie’s little “arms.” The clincher was an 1878 Japanese block print of a man preparing senbei using the same hand-operated cookie grills still used in the Kyoto bakeries. (Of course, at least for the American market, the manufacturing process is automated.)
Do you wonder how that played out waaaaaaay back then? Who decided to write wisdom on a ribbon of paper and bake it in a cookie? Did it start as a miniature secret love letter of sorts? Perhaps a way to pass along a message of hope when someone needed both sugar and inspiration (Okay, when doesn’t someone need both sugar and inspiration?)? Ah the mystery, the craziness, of crunchy desserts.
Back to my earlier question about fortune cookie break and entering, I usually go for the wisdom and slide the cookie shards over to my husband. If dessert doesnâ€™t have chocolate included somewhere, somehow, I can pass up sugar pretty easy. But I gots to have me some deep Zen prophecy after a meal of General Tsoâ€™s Chicken. Here are some fortunes that I have saved over time and stuck on our refrigerator:
â€œDo not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.â€
â€œBeauty is in the eye of the beholder. Wonton or Dumpling?â€
â€œA good way to keep healthy is to eat more Chinese food.â€ (This one just made me laugh with its shameless promotion.
â€œUnfortunately, for you, I could not think of anything wise to say.â€ (The equivalent of a lump of coal in the Christmas stocking.)
â€œThere comes a time when a yen for a man is just Chinese money.â€