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Monday, March 21, 2011

In Your Hand

The first ethnic cuisine I had in New York City was Chinese, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was affordability as a student. It was no time at all before Chinatown became the restaurant destination of choice. I did not dabble long in the cuisine either. I soon found a few dishes that I liked, and in no time at all, experimentation gave way to the familiar - beansprouts with black bean sauce or chow mei fun noodle dishes.

As students, we indulged our new found freedom away from home, most of us for the first time. Yet ironically, the values and even the idea itself of routine and ritual that we rejected from our parent's generation were soon to be substituted with our own rituals, routines and values. We deceived ourselves to believe that we were completely free spirits - i.e. free of any structure or tradition. However, we had, in fact, established a new, well defined culture, with its codes of behavior, dress, relationships, foods, recreational drugs, hair styles, slang, activities, work ethic, music and sex. One tradition just replace another. Over time, we learned that many of the values, mores and traditions of previous generations were not as bad as we once imagined, like a good work ethic or relationship fidelity.

When it comes to food, no generation needs to be convinced of the merits of tradition in cuisine. This was and still is one of the greatest things about New York City - the plethora of restaurants and their ethnic diversity. However, when it comes time to eat and I am very hungry, I am not very inclined to experiment. I don't want any unpleasant surprises. This is the time where nature's call is best answered with a familiar voice.

New Yorkers are no different than anyone else. We look for the comfort in the familiar rituals - morning coffee, reading email, eating at a local favorite restaurant with friends and if you are inclined towards Chinese food, the look of a flat-bottomed soup spoon and the feel of a warm ceramic tea cup in your hand :)


Rigel said...

Awesome as usual, Brian.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes... Relationship fidelity. There's more than one way to be unfaithful. When a partner takes the heart out of you, when that one makes you feel like why do you allow yourself to live this way? When you don't see an out and grab at straws to avoid the depression... It's not simple...

Leslie said...

Yes, at Wo Hop we used to always order the beansprouts with black bean sauce, and the Roast Duck Chow Mai Fon-old price $3.75, new price almost 40 years later only $5.60. Dang, those were good at 3 in the morning! You just can't improve on perfect.

Anonymous said...

LOVE your blog !!!

i have yet to visit China Town though....


I photographed NYC musicians yesterday in my southern town - and they inspired me to look up some raw lifestyle journalism about their city - and I found you.

yay !!

looking forward to reading through your posts and catching up on what you've been up to.