Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Funny things, these fortune cookies...

San Francisco has long been known as a city of innovation and ideas, but just how many things have traced back to the City by the Bay? Plenty, just check out these random inspirations:

The Mai Tai

Here is what Vic himself says regarding the birth of the Mai Tai:
"...I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year-old rum. It was J. Wray Nephew from Jamaica; surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends. The flavor of this great rum wasn't meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings. I took a fresh lime, added some orange curacao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy Syrup, and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle almond flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went in for color ... I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Tahiti, who were there that night. Carrie took one sip and said, "Mai Tai - Roa Ae". In Tahitian this means "Out of This World - The Best". Well, that was that. I named the drink "Mai Tai".

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Denim Jeans

In 1853, the California gold rush was in full gear, and many items were in high demand. Levi Strauss, a young German immigrant, came to San Francisco from New York with a small supply of dry goods with the intention of opening a branch of his brother's New York dry goods business. Shortly after his arrival, a prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, "You should have brought pants!," saying he couldn't’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last. Hence, the blue denim jeans were born.

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Chop Suey

It has been common wisdom to say that chop suey...did not exist in old China. The stir-fried hash was invented, according to tradition, in a San Francisco restaurant during the wee hours one morning when a rowdy group of holidaying diners would not hear of the Chinese cook's plea that he had no food. Rather than risk a drubbing, the cook concocted chop suey of the day's scraps.

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The Fortune Cookie

Now here is one that seems to be up for debate. Many stories have circulated about the true origin of this tasty after dinner treat, including one that says a Chinese immigrant named David Jung invented them in Los Angeles in 1918. I don't really know for sure (no one seems to), but what I was always told was that the fortune cookie was invented in1914 by the designer of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. He as in fact a Japanese immigrant by the name of Makoto Hagiwara.

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