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New York Times metro reporter Jennifer 8. Lee is a master of turning the “betcha didn’t know” tidbit of reporting into a big-picture observation. For her first book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Lee investigates the history and behind-the-scenes machinery of Chinese food in America. Her breezy page-turner digs up evidence that the little white boxes are just as American as apple pie or McDonald’s, if not more so. In the process, she demystifies the tropes of Chinese-American cuisine. For starters, fortune cookies came from Japan, not China, and General Tso (actually General Gao) had nothing to do with our favorite, sticky, spicy, bright-orange chicken. Lee also explains the natural affinity of Jews for Chinese food: No dairy makes it easy to keep kosher, and both groups tend to have nothing to do on the holidays kept by the Christian majority.
Lee discusses and signs copies of her work at 7 p.m. at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. $6. (202) 364-1919.