Food Treasures

Fortune Cookie

When I receive a fortune cookie, often at a Chinese restaurant, it brings a smile to my face.  Why? …………….. I don’t know exactly, but I admit it is something I enjoy.  I like the crunch of the cookie, and I anticipate the hidden message within the cookie.  It seems simple, inviting, and a quick bit of wisdom or encouragement to uplift me.  In essence they are fun, and because of that I wanted to include the idea of fortune being entwined with wisdom on my board game called TreasureTrove.  I choose to place a space on the game board within China and called it Fortune Cookie, “roll and collect.”

Each player upon landing on the space gets to roll the die and collect in treasure notes the amount shown on the die.  People enjoy the thrill of rolling and collecting money (Treasure notes).  Of course when you roll a One or Two instead of a Five or Six, your excitement is diminished. Such is the thrill of rolling and such is the thrill of life.

I had always assumed that fortune cookies were from China since I always associated them with Chinese restaurants.  This is not exactly true.  To begin with, fortune cookies are not well known in China, much less used in eateries.  Most evidence suggests that it was the Japanese in San Francisco that introduced fortune cookies to the public around the turn of the 20th century.  Earlier in the 19th century Japanese temples and shrines sold fortune slips called Omikuji.  Sometimes the fortune as told on a small piece of paper was wedged into a solid cookie.  In San Francisco they used a hollow cookie to hold the fortune.  The Japanese sold these cookies to Chinese restaurants where they became popular with Americans.  By the latter half of the 20th century Chinese-Americans began to mass produce the cookies as you and I know them today.

There is some legend that ancient Chinese trying to overthrow their Mongol rulers would send messages inside Mooncakes which the Mongols did not like to eat the inside.  The Chinese communicated secretly this way, and argue it later inspired the Japanese in their fortune cookie making.

I still could not resist placing Fortune Cookie in China on my game board for TreasureTrove, even though they are not well known there.  Besides, who knows, in today’s global market that the fortune cookie as you and I know it could very well someday make it into restaurants in China.  I know if I owned a McDonald’s restaurant in China, I would give fortune cookies away.  I’ll bet they would be very popular.


Danish Roll

I had a little bit of trouble sleeping last night, so I am up early doing some quick writing.  I enjoyed a small glass of cold refreshing milk, especially since it complimented the Danish roll I ate.  I cannot remember ever not liking Danish rolls.  As a young child when my family lived in Europe my dad often raved about the hard German breakfast rolls called brotchen.  There was actually a man who drove a little bread truck to deliver them.  My dad called him the brotchen man.  Brotchen are hard on the outside, and fluffy on the inside, mostly air I would say.  It allows plenty of room for butter and jelly to be placed inside.  They also occasionally bought some lighter pastries that often had a crispy outside with a sugary coating.  I found myself liking what my parents called Danish rolls. I have a small mouth and as I kid I had a hard time biting into corn on the cob,  apples, fat sandwiches and so forth.  Danish rolls were easier for my mouth to bite into than the larger brochen.  My parents also called these Danish pastries.  The pastries and rolls are actually different.  I like the Danish pastries better, but the ones I eat more often now are what I call Danish rolls; at least that is what my wife sometimes buys.  They don’t have the gentle crunch, but are a soft bread with some jelly or cheese mix in the middle.  I do not necessarily go out of my way to have Danish rolls but when they are available as they were this morning in the kitchen pantry, I enjoy them.  I think that is why my wife occasional buys them for the household.  Unfortunately, they are a like Lay’s potato chips: it is hard for me to only eat one.

             As a child I had had no idea what Danish meant.  There was deviled ham, and cottage cheese, so I just thought that was what you called the light, sweet crunchy pastries.  Later I learned there were Danish people.  I knew German people lived in Germany, and French people lived in France, but did not know where Danish people lived.  I did not give it much thought  It was even a few years later until I finally realized Danish people live in Denmark.  When I hear of Switzerland, I think of cheese, chocolate, watches, and banks.  When I think of Norway, I think of reindeer and Vikings.  For Poland it is sausage; for France it is Paris, food and wine; for Holland it is windmills and ice skating; and for Denmark it is Danish rolls.  These are probably some of my earliest remembrances of these countries and for better or worse are still in my mind.

            When I was creating the board game TreasureTrove I wanted to place on the game board some fun spaces where the player has the opportunity to roll the die and collect money.  One such space I placed directly over where Denmark would be on the traveler’s journey around the world.  At first, most players never give it a thought, but after a few games they begin to pick up the little things on the game board such as Danish Roll is directly where Denmark would be.  If they are playing with a child it is something fun to share with them.

            That first Danish roll I had this morning had a cherry jelly center.  I’m glancing over my laptop and down the kitchen counter noticing the one with a soft cream cheese filling is staring back at me.  I think I’ll give in, and go give him a visit. 

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