The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, by Jennifer 8 Lee

I ordered Chinese food for dinner one night last week, specifically General Tso’s chicken. I couldn’t keep reading Jennifer 8 Lee’s entertaining and informative book on the topic and continue to eat Italian or whatever else was in my refrigerator. I had to have Chinese food.

Lee, the daughter of immigrants, is a dogged and aggressive investigative reporter. But of what? Essentially, she chronicles her search for the origins of Chinese food in America. If you think, “well, of course, that would be China,” guess again. General Tso’s chicken, chop suey, anything with broccoli in it … not Chinese. As another example, Lee spends a good portion of the book tracking down the source of fortune cookies. Let’s just say they’re not standard fare at restaurants in China. And where do you think the staff comes for the Chinese carryout you phone in, or the little Chinese restaurant at the end of the block that you visit on occasion? Yes, these people may come from China, but how did they end up in your community?

Lee answers all of these questions thoroughly and with animated and energetic prose. I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I highly recommend it.

As for animals, really nothing much bad happens unless you get squicked out by the notion of selecting live seafood for dinner. (I will confess that it bothers me, but not to the point where I’d veto a book over it.) When Lee discusses American cultural issues about dog meat with a Chinese farmer, he says that dogs raised for pets are no good for eating — you should only eat dogs raised for meat. Well, that’s nice. (Does WordPress have sarcasm tags?) Okay, so it’s a cultural thing, I’m American, and Americans don’t eat certain animals. Anyway, nothing awful is shown despite a few concepts being presented, so I’m going to declare this book SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy!

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April 25, 2010 - Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews, food, nonfiction, restaurants | , , , , , , , , , ,

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