July 20th is Fortune Cookie Day, a day to celebrate the crisp cookie dessert that often accompanies Chinese food and offers a prophecy — or maybe even lotto numbers — to lucky diners. Although the simple snacks are most often associated with Chinese food, they are likely Japanese in origin, and were originally called “fortune tea cakes” in reference to Japanese tea cakes. In fact, fortune cookies are not even served in China, and only appear in a small number of countries across the world. In the 1890′s or early 1900′s Makoto Hagiwara of Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden was the first person to introduce the modern fortune cookie in the United States. During World War II, when thousands of Japanese-Americans were wrongfully detained in internment camps, Chinese-Americans began to manufacture the cookies. Today, about three billion fortune cookies are made each year.
When I was growing up Chinese food was one of my favorite foods, and often when it was my turn to choose where the family would eat for our “Friday night dinners”, I preferred my favorite Chinese food restaurant. It was conveniently close and incredibly delicious, and even though it went through several name changes, it lasted for many years. But I haven’t had that much time or appetite for Chinese food lately; Chris and I have developed a love affair with Japanese food that’s coming up on a year and a half! And even though fortune cookies are Japanese in origin, they aren’t usually served in Japanese restaurants, so we’ve been seriously lacking on divinations and lottery numbers for quite some time now. That’s okay though — even though most of the fortunes I’ve received throughout my lifetime have been amusing and light-hearted, there have been a few foreboding, ominous prophecies that have made fortune cookies occasionally creepy.
But all “willies” aside, Chris and I were looking forward to this “unofficial”. Fortune Cookie Day gave us the perfect excuse to re-visit a food that we’ve neglected for too long. On our way home we picked up some Triple Delight, General Tso’s Chicken, and Hot&Sour Soup. After we dropped by the house to let the dogs out, we decided to bring our spoils to my parents house while we commandeered their washing machine (ours is having problems, so we’ll most likely spend part of this weekend at the hardware store). We chowed down while our laundry was getting clean, and my parents and their dog Snicker even had a little too. And when we were all full, it was time to unveil our fortunes: