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good fortune cookie

By 12:43 AM , , ,

gold coin
Originally uploaded by looseid

I slowly entered the dark storefront that wafted of warm vanilla air. The aged Chinese man with the sweater vest squinted and purposefully shuffled towards me. As soon as he got close enough, he grabbed my wrist and placed two flat pancakes in my hand. They were soft and JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH HOT.

I jumped. He smiled approvingly.

I don't mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I was a bit startled because the fresh samples nearly burned my palm. He wanted me to eat the treat - I sensed from the protracted stare. So I obliged. The flat disks quickly turned crisp as soon as the residual heat dissipated.

I had come to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.

Lately I've been compulsively going to local establishments and walking up streets and alleys that I've never visited in the last seventeen years. There are so many nooks and crannies left in San Francisco and still more being carved out or redressed every day. I don't think you can ever run out of places of discovery.

But, nonetheless, it's the easiest thing to get stuck in a rut and then complain about being tired of the scenery. All you have to do is turn your head a few degrees and there's something new.

So, I set out on this little visit to Chinatown during lunch.
My mission was brief. Get fortune cookies.

When a place makes and sells only one thing, there's not much more to do after you purchase that one product. No browsing, or impulse shopping. I should consider it a bonus that I got accosted by the drive-by hot cookie handoff. But total, I spent about a minute and a half in the store.

The one variation I saw in the product was that next to the traditionally folded cookies they sold flat ones without the slips of fortune and called it gold coins. Oh and there was a small section behind the register that sold "Adult Fortunes". I'm guessing that they're x-rated sayings. I can't even venture to transpose fortune-cookie-speak into something raunchy. It only comes out comical, in a Wayne's World "Cream of Some Young Guy" kind of way.

The ladies making the cookies by hand not once looked up during my transaction. Their seasoned dexterity was mesmerizing. All day long, flipping, turning, folding in a dimly lit, waffle-cone scented galley.

I thanked the old man and walked out back into the sunshine. Ross Alley was a street I honestly have never been to. I'm pretty sure I'll return knowing that this store was here.
On the way back to the office, I made a couple of more purchases. A large bag of peanuts for 89¢ and a chunk of ginger for 13¢.

Why don't I shop in Chinatown more often?
I'm pretty certain that same shopping list would have sunken me 7 bucks at Whole Foods.

I can't remember the last time I bought anything worthwhile for a dime and three pennies. What a beautiful city.
When I got home, I found a stack of four more gold coins the old man slipped inside my "Have a nice day" shopping bag. That must be a Chinese baker's dozen.

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  1. It really is amazing that in some places they still hand-fold the fortune cookies. Sounds fantastic.

  2. It's a thing of old school beauty. Check it out, someday. 56 Ross Alley.