Fogei- Waiters, Those Who Bring Sustenance

Fogei: waiter (in a teahouse); employee (in a shop); address used among policemen.

Fo describes a unit of ten soldiers in ancient China.  The person responsible for cooking was called fotau.  Soldiers in the same unit called each other fogei.

I grew up working in a family restaurant, as a fogei (waitress/busgirl/cashier/whatever was needed).  Sometimes I think Chinese restaurants serve as hubs of connection; at least, everybody seemed to know one another in the industry in my town.  There’s a sense of six degrees of separation whenever I meet others familiar with the Chinese restaurant business.  For a nice history, take a look at Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants.

Food serves as a necessity in our lives; it’s essential to our well-being.  Beautiful metaphors spring forth from the vital sustenance.  My friend, director and therapist Wesley Du compares families to dumplings. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can watch his short film “Dumpling” tonight at the NewFilmmakers festival.

I think the food metaphor transfers well to the writing field.  In my first post, I referenced the hard work and discipline in honing the writer’s craft, the prep work.  This likens to the hours I spent peeling potatoes and carrots in my family’s restaurant, staining my hands orange and layering them with brown dust.

Now I want to talk about the reverse process, the pitch.  It’s like the egg rolls we made, each a neat packet of savory tidbits wrapped in golden crispness.  I’m currently working on my novel’s high concept, the condensation of my story into a few lines.  It’s hard to fit the juiciness into a tagline, but I’m trying.  Sometimes all the time you get to make an impression is 90 seconds, like in the popular Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam .  By the way, if you live in the west coast area, there’s a chance to participate in a WD Pitch Slam on the weekend of October 19-21, 2012 near Hollywood.

So bon appetit–may the delicious food you eat sustain your body and stimulate your mind!

Baatpoh- The 8th Woman, or The Numbers Game
Yihsaijou- Genealogy Lessons


  1. Great post, Jennifer! It simultaneously makes me hungry and makes me want to work on my own novel pitch!

    – Pat Walsh (fellow MNINB Platform Challenger and author)

  2. Ha, that’s great, Pat! Thanks for the visit to my blog.

  3. Yum, yum, yum. Then we got to the pitch, which scares me half to death. Clever way of intertwining these two things Jennifer.

  4. The tagline is tough, isn’t it? Great analogies, great post, Jennifer! I enjoyed it. I’ll subscribe.

  5. It’s true. Have to work on that tagline. Thanks for subscribing, Gerry!

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