Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fundamental Questions Answered -- Or Not

From my Sunday Japan Times perusal comes this startling claim:

News photo
Modern Japanese variety
News photo

What's really 'Chinese' about fortune cookies?


Staff writer

Try this for fun next time you're in New York City: Walk into any sushi bar, eat your fill and then ask for a fortune cookie.

"Would that be a Chinese fortune cookie?" the waiter will likely respond a little loftily. "Sorry, but this is a Japanese restaurant."

"Exactly!" you might vouchsafe -- then launch into telling him how the so-called "Chinese" fortune cookie, that ubiquitous American snack that accompanies every order of General Tso's Chicken or Egg Foo Young, most probably came from . . . Japan, where near-identical tidbits called tsujiura sembei (crossroads-fortune crackers) have been enjoyed for generations.

But read on to discover all the details. Names are named. Clues are traced. Fingers are pointed(politely).
But, in the end, is asurety -- that which all academic types demand -- attained?
Or is it merely another frivolus Sunday passtime?

-- ml

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