In most restaurants, dessert is the thing they try to push on you after you’ve already eaten a big meal. So you have your ice cream, or pie a la mode, and then collapse into a big heap on your bed while contemplating going on a diet.
Chinese restaurants give the same dessert with every meal, for the most part: a fortune cookie.
And of course, the cookie isn’t even that sweet. The joy of eating it doesn’t last very long.
It’s the words on the little slip of paper inside that nourishes us. The little piece of random advice that seeps its way into our mind as we go about our week. A provocation.
I’ve written before about how things like fortunes, horoscopes, and lucky numbers help us pay attention. They’re somewhat random and meaningless out of context, but it’s our mind that makes the meaning.
And if fortune cookies allow us to focus our attention by way of some random thought scribbled on the piece of paper inside, then they offer something no other dessert does… insight.