Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fourteenth Week

Monday, April 5, 2010 (Mila’s Birthday)
It is the opening day of the New York Mets 2010 baseball season and I had the good fortune to answer the telephone last night when Michael Ratner, approaching sainthood, called to ask if, by any stretch of the imagination, I might consider the distant possibility, that I sacrifice an afternoon keeping the justice system on track and, instead, go to the ballgame.
I ate three bananas in the morning and had no problem concentrating on our team’s fabulous victory without thinking about food all afternoon sitting on a cushioned seat at a height just above a typical ballplayer’s head and only a few yards from the field.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
My cold remains and renewed its attack on my physical comfort, so it was easy to take a short walk on an otherwise beautiful day and buy a bunch of big, fat red grapes for lunch knowing that the Promised Land is nigh.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The warmest day of the year to return to Heaven on Earth. I went to Shanghai Asian Cuisine, 14 A Elizabeth Street, a narrow restaurant with 12 tables under glass tops. One long wall is mirrored to open up the space somewhat. The decor reminded me of a Holiday Inn 30 years ago, but I didn’t plan to sleep there. The menu had several pictures of soup buns and many of the customers (half Chinese) ordered them. I was about to, but I feared schpritzing on the linen clothes I broke out for the warm weather, so I ordered a scallion pancake and mixed Shanghai lo-mein. The scallion pancake was very good even though it was thin with brown spots resembling matzahs. At $2 it rates as a best buy. The lo-mein, a medium-sized portion, had a square profile, about 3/16", not the round 1/8" usually encountered. The noodles were slippery, but the sauce was bland. Vegetables, shrimp, beef were mixed in. Just OK for $5.95.

Thursday, April 8, 2010
What a day for celebrations. I have failed to mention, until now, that right across from the courthouse, at the corner of Worth Street and Centre Street, is the Office of the City Clerk, which, among other things, issues marriage licenses for Manhattan and conducts civil ceremonies. That means that many afternoons, as I went to and fro Chinatown, I saw couples on their way to begin life’s greatest adventure excluding death. Many couples are easily spotted by their attire, including full bridal gowns, tuxedos and the like, and the photographer trailing along. I was going to wait and publish an accumulation of observations about these couples, but I have to report what I saw today.
The ten or so men in the wedding party of about twenty people posing for photographs were wearing kilts with the full regalia. One woman waved a Scottish flag (Scotch flag?). This was more than an improvised tribute to the late Alexander McQueen. I was immediately reminded of my dear friend David McMullen, currently resident in Edinburgh, and, to satisfy his curiosity by proxy, I asked the middle-aged man at one end of the line smiling for the camera what clan were they? What tartan were they wearing? He answered three times without me understanding a word he said. When I asked him to speak English a young woman stepped out of the group to write down the name of the blood bond holding them together – the "Heart of Midlothian" soccer team of the Scottish Premier League from Edinburgh. Seriously.
Dream sequence – My wedding day
Voice of America’s Favorite Epidemiologist: "What’s taking you so long? The rabbi can’t wait much longer."
Alan: "Sweetie, I can’t find my Mets T-shirt."
I left the group with a jaunty step although no bagpipes could be heard. However, as I walked along Bayard Street approaching Mott Street, I heard a pounding drum and, at the corner of Mott and Bayard, in front of New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, which I visited on February 19th, there was a drummer and two people clashing cymbals (cymbalists?). Opposite them was a line of 12-15 smiling people wearing red roses, and two dragons. They were celebrating the grand opening, according to a sign on the front door, of the restaurant which I opened almost six weeks ago. Go figure.
Then, the group boogied down Bayard Street to pose again in front of Old Sichuan at 65 Bayard Street. Do I need to tell you where I ate lunch? Unfortunately, the celebration ended, in all senses, once I entered the restaurant. The front portion is narrow and grotto-like featuring a heating/AC duct about 15" in diameter running along the ceiling. A back room is reached by crossing a faux bridge trimmed in artificial fruit and vines. I ordered a lunch special, orange flavor chicken with egg drop soup for $5.95. Additionally, still weaning myself off matzahs, I ordered a scallion pancake for $1.95. The soup was cold and I returned it to a waiter to heat. The chicken came next, a medium-large portion with bright green broccoli on the side. The orange sauce was tasty, but the chicken tasted tired, the word that came to mind with the first bite. The white rice was cooked with a little salt raising it above the normal blandness. What about the scallion pancake? Yes, what about the scallion pancake. It came as I was putting aside the last piece of chicken. It was good, a little light on the scallions, but not greasy.
My spirits were renewed as I neared the courthouse and met three members of the New York City Transit Authority’s legal staff that I enjoyed working with throughout last year. I entered the courthouse through the back door where I could not see who was posing in front of the Office of the City Clerk.

Friday, April 9, 2010
What a difference a day makes. The temperature is almost 30 degrees cooler today than yesterday and all the men I saw in wedding parties at the corner were wearing long pants.
Grand Street west of the Bowery (Third Avenue south of Houston Street) once was second only to Mulberry Street in representing Little Italy. Today, with the exception of Ferrara’s, a few other restaurants and grocery stores near the intersection of Mulberry, Grand Street is Chinatown. Even east of the Bowery, Jewish-owned dry goods stores predominated on Grand Street past Allen Street (First Avenue south of Houston Street). Now, Chinese businesses, including restaurants, are common sights. I went into OK 218 Restaurant, 218 Grand Street, a small space mostly occupied by its kitchen supporting a big take-out business. On one side, though, there are 4 round tables and 3 rectangular tables. I was only the second non-Chinese customer among the dozen or so seated. The long wall of the dining area is covered by a mirror and the back wall has a big photograph of the Li River, a beautiful location that we visited almost two years ago. More than half of the lunch menu had rice dishes and I ordered three barbecued meats over rice, that is duck, chicken and pork for $5.25. All of the meats were hanging in the window before being served to me with some sauteed cabbage next to the rice. The meats were not fatty; the portion size was medium. Toothpicks were right on the table with the soy sauce, hot pepper paste and hot oil.
Tonight, I end the week as I began it, at CitiField watching the Mets (win).


  1. The flag, Saltire, is Scottish. Whisky is the only thing ever referred to as "Scotch"

    Heart of Midlothian you say? Living but a few blocks away from the Hibernian stadium, we are Hibs fans all the way. No tolerance for Hearts colors in the pubs in this neighborhood.

    Glad you made opening day. Haven't been following the Mets scores but I will update my list to do so. However, I am celebrating last nights 9-3 Rays victory over the damn Yankees and hoping we can put them away tonight and tomorrow as well.

  2. A slight correction to my earlier comment - there are small pies, usually filled with minced beef or lamb that are called "Scotch Pies". Intended to be eaten out of hand there is an indentation in the top to hold the sauce - typically HP or "brown sauce" as it is know here but it might also be curry sauce, onion gravy or even ketchup depending on personal preference.

    Also, the term "Scots" is often used as an adjective and if one in not familiar with the accent can be misheard as "Scotch"