Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Orleans/New Year

Monday, September 26, 2011

We flew back from NOLA today and return to work tomorrow. I’ll provide a quick recap of the balance of the weekend. Saturday night, we ate dinner at Tujague’s, 823 Decatur Street, founded in 1856, owned since 1982 by Steven Latter, a member of my Grandmother Gotthelf’s family. Tujague’s serves one five-course meal for about $40 a person plus drinks, tax, tips: shrimp remoulade, sweet potato crab meat bisque, beef brisket in horseradish sauce, choice of main course only (blackened shrimp over pasta, filet mignon, fish with crab meat – but, if you know to ask, chicken bonne femme, roasted chicken under about 1/4 inch of fresh chopped garlic), bread pudding for dessert. Certain relatives and friends should note that a non-overtly-treyf meal was made available, as needed.

Sunday, Cindy and David left and we visited the National World War II Museum, a fascinating enterprise. Besides a large permanent exhibit loaded with photographs, memorabilia, artifacts, constructs and recorded memories, a separate building houses a theater which shows Beyond All Boundaries, a multi-dimensional, multi-media movie on a very large screen, narrated by Tom Hanks. The presentation included special effects beyond light and sound to capture the feeling of combat, flight and bomb explosions very effectively. Even though the seats rocked and shook at appropriate places, I felt that I had not merely wandered into a thrill ride at an amusement park. An overarching flaw of the museum is its US-centricity, although modest recognition is given to the efforts and sacrifices of other nations and populations, including the Soviet Union. On the other hand, it is not the International World War II Museum. Additionally, while ultimately the museum is an expression of American patriotism, it honestly acknowledges our inability to abandon domestic racism while professedly fighting international racism. It gave credible support for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, to avoid massive casualties in the invasion of Japan. However, the bombing of Nagasaki three days later was mentioned in one sentence without any rationale. There weren’t many people visiting on this beautiful afternoon, with the New Orleans Saints playing at the Superdome nearby at exactly the same time. I wonder if the museum will survive in the future even without the competition of a professional football game, especially as Americans increasingly turn to myths to support their beliefs.

Sunday dinner was at Chef Duke’s Café Giovanni, 117 Rue Decatur (as they prefer), a very good Italian restaurant, where I had chocolate paté, a real dessert. Afterwards, we walked about ½ mile (a rare occurrence for a NOLA tourist who either hails a taxi, rides in a horse-drawn buggy, jumps on a street car or staggers) to Mulate’s–The Original Cajun Restaurant, 201 Julia Street. We had already eaten, so I had to pass on the fried alligator platter ($18.99), fried crab claws ($12.99) and, most regrettably, the Oreo cream dirt cake ($6.99, ice cream $2.99 extra), but this large room features live Cajun music all evening, without a cover or minimum if you sit at the bar. When it cost only a little over five dollars for a draft beer and an iced tea, I gladly left ten dollars on the bar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The weather was lovely on my first day back in Chinatown. Either because of or in spite of the nice weather, I chose not to wander in search of a new restaurant, but instead returned to Yee Li Restaurant, 60 Bayard Street (March 26, 2010). I had spicy beef chow fun ($7.75), a very good, large portion that was everything but spicy.

As you are probably aware, I am attracted to interesting words and phrases properly and improperly used. After all, as the philosophers teach us, language is what distinguishes us from Sarah Palin. I read some of this week's New Yorker as I semi-slurped my noodles at lunch, and was caught by the following comments about the influences on a young, hot artist. "He also came under the spell of the Minimalists. ‘Robert Ryman’s huge!’ Kassay said." Hmm, is this the "jumbo shrimp" of the art world?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I know that turkey and chicken are the focus of the holiday menus for the next few days, so I had my mind set on beef as I entered Hop Kee, 21 Mott Street (February 9, 2010). I was a bit surprised at the absence of orange beef on the menu and more surprised at the high prices on the menu. Two egg rolls for $7, for instance. I ordered moo shu beef ($14.50), but I can't complain about its value. The portion was very large, accompanied by four pancakes. The preparation was excellent, thick with beef, eggs, mushrooms, green onions, yellow onions, celery, bean sprouts. Grandpa Alan did not make All Gone. One pancake and enough moo to stuff it were left over. Also, included at no extra cost were white rice (why?), fried noodles with duck sauce and mustard to dip in, tea and a fortune cookie. Not a bad way to end 5771.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The fifty-seven hundreds are flying by. We attended services last night and this morning. We invited some special friends to lunch this afternoon, and America's Favorite Epidemiologist dazzled them with her culinary prowess, something usually omitted in her CV.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The abundance of food we had yesterday provided enough leftovers to have more friends over lunch after services today.

The Jewish High Holiday period focuses on reflection of past behavior and provides an opportunity for a course correction going forward. That's okay by me, on the whole. We're expected to emphasize many of the familiar qualities of honesty, humility, courage, which I've been devoted to since my Boy Scout days. I do fine usually, when in a room by myself. I'm able to look myself in the eye, assuming a mirror hung high enough on the wall, recognize my weaknesses and take corrective action. The only problem arises when other people are around. They so often interfere with my spiritual journey and my modest attempts to change the world. Sartre, the Nazi collaborator and Communist apologist, was otherwise correct. H**l is other people.

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