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The Japanese Bakeries Still Selling Fortune Cookies

Many of the menu items in Chinese restaurants in the USA are recipes that are rarely -if ever- seen in China, because they are the result of adaptations and totally invented dishes made to appeal to American tastes. Knowing that, you will be forgiven if you thought that the ubiquitous fortune cookies that are served with the bill are an American invention. That's not so. But you may be surprised to learn that they aren't from China, either. Baker Takeshi Matsuhisa tells us more.

Fortune cookies—that sweet treat served with a side of pithy wisdom—are such a staple in Chinese-American restaurants that many diners are surprised to learn they are not from China. Often described as an invention of immigrants in California, they can in fact be traced back to Japan, where bakers such as Matsuhisa still make the original version, known as tsujiura senbei or omikuji senbei. “These have been around since the Edo period,” Matsuhisa says.

Read the history of fortune cookies in both Japan and America at Atlas Obscura.

(Top image credit: Selena Hoy)


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