Happiness is a Fortune Cookie!

COOL COUGARS, our homeschooled Campfire group, started Trail to Family & Community in mid-September and have been working on the IMAGINE NO HUNGER project. Tomorrow will be the last in this trail. Since weather has been warm/inviting, we will be meeting at Larkspur Park.

Meanwhile, each family is to bring a sustainance bread from his/her culture or heritage such as Mexican, tortillas; Jewish, bagels; etc. We were going to make steamed buns; it'd be trying to make enough for 20+ kids/moms. So, we're taking the easy way out by bringing fortune cookies to the meeting to share and give a brief talk on fortune cookie. Hopefully, Safeway or Albertson woul carry them in a big package.

Where and who invented fortune cookie? You ask. This goes back...even before America...For many centuries the Chinese have marked special occasions and festival times such as harvest and New Year with the giving and receiving of Moon Cakes (my favorite dessert of all times) these were made from Lotus Nut Paste.

During the 13th and 14th centuries China was occupied by the Mongols. When plans were made in Peking for a popular uprising to oust the invaders, much thought was given how news of the date of the uprising could be circulated without alerting the Mongols.

The story goes that the Mongols had no taste for Lotus Nut Paste and so the Chinese hid the message containing the date in the middle of their Moon Cakes replacing the yolk with secret messages. Patriotic revolutionary, Chu Yuan Chang took on the disguise of a Taoist priest and entered occupied walled cities handing out Moon Cakes. These were the instructions to co-ordinate the uprising which successfully formed the basis of the Ming Dynasty.

Thus the tradition of giving cakes with messages was born and became a popular way of expressing wishes of goodwill or good fortune on an important occasion.

The origins of the Fortune Cookie as we know it today vary and has continued to be a matter of debate. Like chop suey, some says it is an American invention. Some says in fact it is not even by Chinese American.

Some history claims that it was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara. Hagiwara was a gardener who designed the famous Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

One history claims that David Jung, a Chinese immigrant living in Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, invented the cookie in 1918. Concerned about the poor he saw wandering near his shop, he created the cookie and passed them out free on the streets. Each cookie contained a strip of paper with an inspirational Bible scripture on it, written for Jung by a Presbyterian minister.

In 1983, San Francisco's pseudo-legal Court of Historical Review held a mock trial to determine the origins of the fortune cookie. To no one's surprise, the judge (a real-life federal judge from San Francisco) ruled in favor of San Francisco. Included among the evidence was a fortune cookie whose message read: "S.F. Judge who rules for L.A. Not Very Smart Cookie." Equally unsurprising, Los Angeles has denounced the ruling.

Some says they were laid down by the Chinese 49'ers who worked on the building of the great American railways through the Sierra Nevada into California.

Work was very hard and pleasures were few in isolated camps, those hard workers had only biscuits with happy messages inside, to exchange at the Moon festival instead of traditional cakes with happy messages, thus the FORTUNE COOKIE was born.

Regardless which history you buy in to, fortune cookies has definitely become something of a cottage industry and as the Chinese settled in San Francisco after the railway and the Gold boom the custom continued. Today it is almost impossible to have a Chinese meal in America and Canada without finishing with a fortune cookie.

More and more businesses and even governments are having promotional messages printed on the opposite side to the fortune. The HONG KONG police used them in anti-drugs campaigns and the US followed.

The first automated production of fortune cookies took place in America in 1964 before that they were made by hand using chopsticks. In '64, Edward Louie of San Francisco's Lotus Fortune Cookie Company, automated the process by creating a machine that folds the dough and slips in the fortune. Today, the world's largest fortune cookie manufacturer, Wonton Food Inc., in Queens, ships out 60 million cookies a month.

HAPPINESS IS A FORTUNE COOKIE. A typical day of an unschooler...our heritage lesson.

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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
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Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
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