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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fortunate Cookies

Tonight, I had dinner with Mrs. Fando and the Littlest Fando at a local Chinese eatery that we frequent. They have smashingly good steamed rice, a ripping Mongolian Bar, and the sushi chef always gives me a seaweed salad, which is actually quite good - despite the actual seaweed wrap. Anyway, we were finishing up our meal when it came time to eat our fortune cookies.

Being Christians, we have absolutely no superstitions regarding fortune cookies, but they are rather amusing to read. The one exception to this rule is the fortune cookie my wife got one evening while in college. It read simply, "Today is your lucky day." That night I asked her out for the first time. Several people have since commented to her that this is absolute proof in the complete falsehood of fortune cookies. (God bless her, she smiles and politely disagrees.)

Still, the vast majority of fortune cookies are filled with cliche's and homilies best suited for bumper stickers. Not tonight though. Tonight, my fortune cookie said the following: "A nice cake is waiting for you."

For those of you who don't pay attention to fortune cookies, preferring to eat the orange slices and pay the cheque as quickly as possible, you should know that this is an earthshaking new trend in fortune cookies. Prior to this message, the single most amusing fortune cookie I have ever read (and "amusing" is a relative term, as you shall see) stated, "You like Chinese food."

Excuse me while I dry my eyes and massage my aching sides. Very droll. So the notice that somewhere, apparently, a nice cake is waiting for me, is clearly a huge step up for fortune cookie writers.

Cake could mean any number of things, poetically. It could mean prosperity, affluence (not that I crave wealth or anything, but getting the house paid off would be something) , or an actual cake. It could be a chocolate cake, an ice-cream cake, a Bundt cake, or even a rice cake (although that's more Japanese than Chinese, to be fair.) It could mean yellowcake as well, which may indicate that I will become radioactive in the near future.

Come to think of it, this whole cake thing could signal a new trend in not only fortune cookie writing but poetry in general as well. Imagine Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney coming out with a new English Translation of Baking with Julia: Based on the PBS Series hosted by Julia Child. All right, the original was in English as well, but Heaney's version would be so much more poetic.


Baking with Julia - Translation by Seamus Heaney

Page 6 - Buttermilk (excerpt)

Though no one bellys up to a soda fountain
In these days to chance a tall glass of sour
Buttermilk, bakers still add it to butter cakes,
muffins, and quick breads for tang and tender crumb.

Should you not find this sour, liquid butter in the shop
Substitute a 2/3 cup of plain or lowfat or nonfat yogurt
For every cup of sour, lovely buttery curd and whey.
Powdered buttermilk is available in supermarkets.


...So anyway, this clearly signals China's growing influence in the United Nations and in the World Bank. I'm sorry, where was I? Ah, fortune cookies! Cake! What a surprise to see them together.

I just hope this cake I'm waiting for doesn't have coconut on it. That would not be a "nice cake."


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