food tales.

August 23, 2011

My recent reading has taken a weird focus on food. This was completely unintentional – I didn’t even realize until I started writing about each of the books that I noticed the theme.

Squeezed (What you don’t know about orange juice) – This book was a disappointment to me. It went into great detail about how the FDA came up with its regulations around orange juice – which just didn’t interest me that much. I just wanted the basics – how have the beverages gone about marketing orange juice so that consumers automatically think it’s fresh, is “not from concentrate” better than concentrated, what are the practices around orange juice that we don’t hear about (like storing the juice for weeks and months or the oranges not coming from Florida). Pretty much this interview sums up the exciting parts of the book.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life –  Stories from the author, who is allergic to dairy, eggs, beef, soy, shrimp, swordfish, certain fruits/veggies/nuts (though not peanuts) and some environmental allergies. And she’s prone to anaphylactic shock. Having no allergies, I actually found this book pretty interesting as it touched on many things that I would never have even thought about. Things like how little kids learn, understand and avoid their allergens, worries about your kids having allergies or not having allergies, having to worry about every ingredient in a dish, and about the awareness that has slowly emerged around peanut allergies and celiac disease.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food – I thought this book was awesome. It starts out as the author begins investigating fortune cookies (after reading a story about lottery winners picking numbers based on fortunes). But it evolves into researching not only the cookies, but how Chinese food in general has become so prolific in America and how it’s basically become its own cuisine – Americanized Chinese. Lee delves into where General Tso’s chicken started, why Jews like Chinese food, Chinese immigrants becoming restaurant workers, soy sauce, take out, and of course who invented the fortune cookie. It was a funny and interesting read. I highly recommend.



  1. I heard it’s some Japanese business man in US came up with the fortune cookie idea. Personally I think it’s a bunch of nonsense — today my friend took a fortune cookie at Okenshield and it read “You are politically independent.” I am glad I did not pick one for myself.

    The most incredible pork I had in China just melted in my mouth, which I’ve never had in US, not even in “good” Chinese restaurants. This is part of the reason I am going to China now, for an yet-to-be-determined period.

    No fortune cookies after meals in China. 🙂

    • Yeah, the book talks the people who write the fortunes too – how they have to be the write length, nothing possibly offensive, etc. And how Americans only want positive fortunes.

      When are you heading to China?

      • Garrison Keillor once suggested a fortune cookie that says “You are eating too much MSG”. 🙂 Which I think is really funny.

        I’m going in 10 days! Hopefully I’ll be able to tunnel through the “great fire wall” and still access this site.

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