Inspired by this thread, a question I’ve wrestled with for many years.
I’ve lived most of my life in China and I’ve never heard of such a thing as a “fortune cookie”. After moving to the West, finding out about this wonderful invention and returning to China, I questioned my relatives and friends, a fairly diverse group in regional terms, and none of them had ever heard of such a thing either. I was unable to even find a halfway close Chinese translation of the term “fortune cookie”. The closest I came was when a friend from Hong Kong related to me that these items were known in Hong Kong as “Mei Guo Bin”, or “American Cookies”, since it is widely known that Americans hold some odd beliefs about them, but never having been to Hong Kong I am unable to verify the accuracy of this claim.
So, any Chinese dopers have the straight dope? Is there a term I could use to explain the idea of fortune cookies to my Chinese relatives? Simply calling them by the literal name “Jian Bin”, which is what the Chinese resturants here call them, would probably only confuse things further.