The Cookie Crumbles

The chic and pricey China Club in Hong Kong is about the only place in China where you'll find fortune cookies served after a meal. Like the Cultural Revolution memorabilia in the club's bar, the cookies are meant to be amusing and ironic. But the fact that they're an in-joke among Hong Kong's fashionable diners, as opposed to the time-honored conclusion to meals that they are in Chinese restaurants in the U.S., illustrates just how divorced real Chinese cooking has become from its American offshoot.

Exploring that bifurcation is the business of