She’s a thirty-something Harvard grad and a New York Times reporter with a serious food obsession, a wicked sense of humor, a love of good parties, and a new book out on the history of Chinese food in America. What’s not to like? When Jennifer 8. Lee swings by the Women’s Literary Festival at the DoubleTree Resort (633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.) this Saturday, March 28, she’ll be dishing up a deliciously funny narrative on everything from chop suey to chow mein to turkey dumplings. She’ll also be signing copies of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. Here are four reasons not to miss her S.B. appearance:
1) Know Your Food: If you’ve ever perused a Chinese restaurant menu and wondered why General Tso’s Chicken has that name, this is your chance to find out: Lee has spent years researching (and eating) Chinese-American cuisine, and has plenty of insights and stories to share.
2) Cookie Comfort: Her writing makes the history of Chinese food downright fascinating. In the first chapter of her book, she writes, “We’d break open the fortune cookies for the message inside, rarely eating the cookie. The cheerfully misspelled, awkwardly phrased, but wise words of the Chinese fortune cookie sages gave me comfort. My parents’ bookshelves were lined with Chinese philosophical classics like Confucius’s Analects and the I Ching. For a girl who could not untangle the thicket of Chinese characters in those opaque and mysterious books, the little slips of insight represented the distillation of hundreds of years of Chinese wisdom. Then came a shocking revelation. Fortune cookies weren’t Chinese.” Aren’t you hungry to hear more?
3) Divine Inspiration: For writers and readers alike, the Women’s Literary Festival is a great place for inspiration, and with the Santa Barbara Writers Conference on hold this summer, this weekend’s festival is an opportunity worth seizing. “I like to write stories that make people think twice,” Lee says, and conference attendees can expect her talk to spark new ideas, as well as to entertain.
4) The Write Stuff: In addition to Lee’s talk, attendees can stick around for the whole conference, which includes speakers like Reyna Grande, who writes from her experience as an undocumented Mexican immigrant in the U.S., and Laila Lalami, a Moroccan writer with a novel due out next month. For more information, visit womensliteraryfestival.com.