Future Tech

Canadian influencer’s amazement at absence of fortune cookies in China restaurants triggers amusing online discussion about origins of snack

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 01 Mar 2024, 06:50 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

A Canadian influencer embarked on an enlightenment journey in China and ended up highlighting the fact that fortune cookies are almost impossible to find on the mainland.

The influencer, with an Instagram handle, tandon_rebecca, began her adventure in Shanghai in mid-January, sharing her experiences of the cultural surprises and delights that the city boasts.

She described how the journey she was making which she described had been on her bucket list since childhood.

In a video posted on Feb 8, she expressed her astonishment about the lack of fortune cookies.

This discovery prompted lively discussions among her international audience which consists of 40,000 followers on Instagram.

“Y’all want to know the wild thing I found out about China. We all know about the fortune cookies you get at a Chinese restaurant. It’s not a thing in China,” she says in a video.

“I was going to every restaurant expecting to get a fortune cookie because that’s what always happens in Canada. No, it’s made up. I don’t know if it’s made up, but it’s definitely not a thing in China.

“The people here don’t even know about it. It’s only a thing in Canada, the US, and Australia, I think. Is that not wild?”

The origins of the fortune cookie are hotly debated, but in 2008, the New York Times cited researchers who believed they had discovered that the cookies originated in Kyoto, Japan.

While there is no clear evidence of how the fortune cookies made it to America, they started as localised treats in California.

Makoto Hagiwara, from San Francisco, and David Jung, from Los Angeles, both claimed to have invented the fortune cookie, and a case in 1983 determined that Hagiwara had initially created the dessert.

However, half a dozen companies and families with long ties to the area claim their ancestors invented it.

What is clear is that soldiers heading for the Pacific in World War Two fell in love with the treat when they visited Los Angeles or San Francisco.

They then began to ask their local Chinese restaurants why they did not serve the biscuits. The restaurant owners adjusted, and the treat became a mainstay of North American Chinese cuisine.

The fortune cookie is a crisp and sugary wafer made from flour, sugar, and vanilla and is usually served as a dessert, famously including a small piece of paper that contains a thoughtful piece of wisdom.

Rebecca, the influencer, also shared cultural adventures like eating a tang hulu, a traditional Chinese candied fruit snack, noting its surprising hardness and likening it to a candy apple only much tougher.

“I feel like I need to go to the dentist because I just got a cavity from that one fruit,” she joked.

Rebecca was also captivated by some middle-aged women dancing in a public square, affectionately dubbing them NPCs, or non-performing characters, referring to video game personas that occupy the background but don’t engage with the main storyline.

In the video, she expresses a desire to share their joy: “It’s so cute to me. My new goal is to learn their choreography and join them one night.”

Her fortune cookie revelation led to a viral discussion, with her video amassing over 678,000 views and attracting more than 1,120 comments at the time of writing.

One person said: “I love the Western-Chinese fortune cookie, I would eat a whole bag of them.”

While another added: “In Canada, restaurants with authentic Chinese dishes do not offer fortune cookies.”


 - scmp

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