“What are your table manners like?”
A man in a University maintenance uniform read this question aloud after opening his fortune cookie. As his response, he popped the entire cookie in his mouth and chewed on it with his mouth open. In my face.
That was my favorite exchange of the day.
We had so many different types of people share details, big and small, with us last Thursday and yesterday. Inspired by Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, WAM Collective developed a set of questions surrounding food, hospitality and traditions and had them printed on fortunes inside of cookies. The sweet inviting shell of a cookie attracted almost every passerby, and everyone who stopped took the time to answer the question inside!
Fortune cookies, in addition to their sugar content, are inviting because anyone who has ordered from an American Chinese restaurant has received one at the end of their meal. Fortune cookies are familiar to a wide variety of people, but harbor varying messages and rituals. My first grade teacher taught me to eat the entire cookie before reading the fortune. Otherwise, she said, the fortune wouldn’t come true. Ever since, I have eaten my cookies in this order. WAM Collective learned about personal anecdotes like this from the curious, excited, amused, and sometimes stumped University community.
– Hannah Germaine
WAM Collective Officer