Fortune Cookies, Char Siu Pork and Time Travel

You won’t find fortune cookies in Hong Kong, or in other parts of China for that matter. Apparently they are a very old Japanese invention. They became Chinese in the United States. I presume this probably occurred to some degree in the same way that Pakistani and Bangladeshi food in the UK became Indian–through a lack of understanding by the dominant culture of ethnic-national differences in groups.  Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrants found that, in general, the British could locate the Indian subcontinent, but not individual regions and groups, so these groups generalised their geography when identifying their foodways commercially.  Thus, to my mind, it is likely that in the gold-rush era, which saw large influxes of Asians into the western US, the (not so) subtleties that distinguish Japanese from Chinese were lost on the miners who were eating this food. After all the miners referred to these restaurants as Chow Chows and Chinkies. Hardly sensitive or subtle. Continue reading