A Chinese Surprise

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful Chinese meal ? or so I thought. Delicious it was. Chop Suey served on rice. A fantastic mix of chicken, beef and pork.

With a perfect mix of vegetables, not too much and yet not too little. I even used chopsticks and managed to get most of it in the right direction. It was so delicious I cleaned up my entire plate and went back for seconds. After all this I sat back in my chair fully satisfied and happy with myself. No Chinese meal is ever complete without a Fortune Cookie, right? So fully contented, I reached for a fortune cookie and quickly crushed it to get to my fortune. Just as I was about to read my fortune, my smug dinner party guest exclaimed what a wonderful American meal we had, just had.

American meal! ? what had he been eating. This startling comment caused me to temporarily forget my fortune and stare at him. What do you mean ? American meal. We have just had a wonderful CHINESE Chop Suey and a CHINESE Fortune Cookie. Which part of that do you not understand? "American", was all he would say.

How rude. Being one not to let things ride, I set about finding research to prove him wrong. Well it was about then that I received a helping of humble pie. He was right.

One hundred percent absolutely correct. We had indeed just eaten American ? well possibly American Chinese but definitely American. Both Chop Suey and Fortune Cookies were invented in America. The general consensus is that Chop Suey was invented in the United States in the mid-1800's, possibly by a Cantonese immigrant.

Chop Suey being derived from the Cantonese word "tsap seui" which means "mixed pieces". The origin of the Chinese Fortune Cookie is not quite so clear cut. While definitely American, there are several versions of it's birth.

One story involves a Chinese immigrant living in Los Angeles, one insists that is was actually a Japanese gentleman and yet another story revolves around a group of Railway workers. Next time you sit down to a meal, take a moment to reflect ? do you really know what cuisine you are eating? Happy Dinning .

By: Francis Chang


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