friday feast: take-out wisdom


“Hello? Shanghai Garden? I’d like to place a take-out order, please.”

“What you like?”

“One order beef chow fun, one order kung pao chicken, and a double order of moo shu pork.”

“Name and phone numbah, please?”

“Jama Obama. 555-8888.”

“Okay, pick up in 15 minutes.”

I can hardly wait! You know how it goes. Sometimes you just gotta have those thin pancakes full of fried pork, scrambled eggs, tree ears, and lily buds. Oh, have I mentioned my life-long passion for chow fun?

photo by bionicgrrrl

Wide, flat noodles are my friend. As are those white cartons and wooden chopsticks! Those little packets of soy sauce. Everything all warm and cozy in a nice brown bag. Yay! I don’t have to cook dinner tonight! Chinese take-out, you’re more than just comfort food. After seducing my taste buds with all your fine flavors, you spell out my life in fortune cookies.

Prophecies, proverbs, advice, great one-liners — so concise and far reaching — just the right crack of poetry after plum sauce. I think it would be a fine thing to write fortunes for a living. Imagine the lives I could touch with just a few words! They would carry the weight of hopes, dreams, the future, maybe even change.

What’s that? You’re hungry?

Well then, here’s a very cool take-out poem for you, full of crisp, heady fortunes you’re going to want to bite into more than once (some of them appear in that first photo up there):

by Frank O’Hara

photo by inediblejewelry

I think you’re wonderful and so does everyone else.

Just as Jackie Kennedy had a baby boy, so will you — even bigger.

You will meet a tall beautiful blonde stranger, and you will not say hello. 

You will take a long trip and you will be very happy, though alone.

You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.

(Rest the rest here.)

Oh, I’ve written some fortunes just for you:

The lovely Anastasia Suen is hosting the Roundup today at Picture Book of the Day. When you see her, ask her if she’d like some kung pao.

Tasty tids:

The modern-day fortune cookie was actually invented by Japanese immigrants in California.

They are practically unheard of in Mainland China and Taiwan.

Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), once roomed with Edward Gorey at Harvard.

He was a music major, poet, playwright, art critic, and associate museum curator at MOMA, who died tragically at the age of 40 from injuries sustained in a car accident.


Oop! Gotta go. My order’s ready!

45 thoughts on “friday feast: take-out wisdom

  1. You ALWAYS leave me hungry in the morning, which is terrible just before I head to class. I should be thinking about math and numbers, but instead I’m now wondering how to get my hands on some dim sum and moo shu chicken!


  2. “Okay, pick up in 15 minutes.”

    The place we used to go most often for Chinese takeout would say, “Fifteen minute, bye-bye.” It’s become our trademark handle for all “ready soon” sorts of conversations. 😉

    What’s that? You’re hungry?

    Argh, yes! I grew up a big fan of chicken lo mein, with the narrow, spaghetti-like noodles, but chow fun will do, too. 😉


  3. Hey, Kelly! The good fortunes always come true!!!

    Love the poem. I’ve got a good fortune cookie story. I do believe I feel a blog post coming on. 🙂


  4. It’s all about Makoto Hagiwara and Seiichi Kito and a bakery in San Francisco. 🙂

    Aren’t you the lucky one who has a sister bringing you dim sum from SF?


  5. Poetry Fortunes

    Elaine M.


    Love the post–but it makes me so hungry! Enjoyed O’Hara’s poem. I like your original fortunes. Let’s hope the one you wrote especially for Kelly F. does come true–beacuse I’d definitely come to that launch party. In fact, I’d be the Firth person to arrive!


  6. Hello, Jama Obama. I love this post. I have GOT TO read more Frank O’Hara, too.



  7. Tanita Says 🙂

    1.) I’m starving now. Drunken Thai noodles also have wide flat noodles as a base, with plenty of basil and garlic and spices and tofu, and I’m STARVING for that now.

    2.) I really need those earrings.

    3.) Oh, man, wouldn’t it be the best job EVER to write fortunes?


  8. I might be able to eat the noodle (I’ve been trying to add rice back in, but I’m still not 100% sure it’s going to work), but the total preparation of chow fun dishes might still contain stuff I can’t have. (Soy sauce often has wheat/gluten, for instance, or meats are dredged in flour before sauteing, etc.) So – for now, no commercial Chinese takeout for me.


  9. On second thought, he’s got that new girlfriend, and I don’t think I like her very much. Let’s see, Dylan is always so moody, so maybe instead I’ll bring Barack!!


  10. Re: Tanita Says 🙂

    1) I want to be drunk on Thai noodles, too.

    2) Yes yes.

    3) I want to do that when I grow up. And then, I’d like to watch people as they crack open the cookies and read their fortunes.


  11. I’ll have an order each of Billy Collins, Jane Austen (does that come with Colin Firth on the side? And I add a side of Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Day Lewis with that?) And the lovely poems all April. 15 minutes? Okay.


  12. That’s what I call a tall order! I’m afraid we’re out of Colin Firth at the moment (he’s on hold for Kelly). We could manage Ralph and Daniel and Billy (all wrapped in pancakes). Come to think of it, I like Joe Fiennes more than Ralph. Something about those ink stained Shakespeare hands and the way he unwrapped Gwyneth Paltrow. 🙂
    *fans self*

    15 minutes!!


  13. Hehe! Ralph is the only actor to make my knees go weak, my heart melt, and in general go gaga. (Hand me that fan!)


  14. Oh, yum.
    And yes, Tanita, I’d like to join you and Jama in writing fortunes. If the downtown in the economy gets to us, we could supplement by coming up with cool paint names and, perhaps, the lush descriptions on shampoo bottles…


  15. I’ll google them.

    I have to GO up to SF to get the dim sum, but it’s still great. The problem is that, in our little hills, nobody will deliver to our house. Sigh.


  16. Good idea. Bahama Blue for the dining room . . .

    “You will teach an online writing class and all your students will have luscious, squeaky, freshly shampooed hair.”


  17. Oh, Jama! These are so funny! Thanks for the laughter (and for the longing for Chinese take out, too…). Billy Collins is thinking of you…Thanks for the giggles!
    Kelly Polark


  18. the economy, writing, and shampoo

    “You will teach an online writing class and all your students will have luscious, squeaky, freshly shampooed hair.”

    Hear! Hear!

    Thanks for the chuckles.


  19. I like the poem, but your fortunes are better. 🙂

    I loved Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Mahvelous!



  20. There’s a serious party going on over here! I laughed my way through all the comments. Luckily, I ate a ton of ribs and fries for lunch, so I’m not starving like the rest of your poor readers.

    But now I’m craving a good fortune. I might steal the Billy Collins one. Surely he can dream about more than one person.


  21. Jama,
    We had Chinese take out today! Ah, those warm brown bags & white takeout boxes! Just the ticket after a long day cleaning and then hosting 5 tweens for a playdate. Here’s what my two fortune cookies said ..

    Your path is arduous but will be amply rewarding.
    You will soon achieve perfection.

    Nice! I don’t usually get such sweet ones. Though I could do with the one that said a cupcake will follow you home!


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