Monday, August 5, 2013
Over the many years, I’ve studied Hebrew, French, Latin, and Italian in one venue or another with consistently poor results. However, when I took German in college, I got straight A’s, somewhat aided by the Yiddish that I heard around me as I grew up. But, I think that anyone who ever saw a World War II movie, regardless of foreign language competency, would have reacted with the start as I did when scanning the death notices in the Sunday newspaper. Admittedly, as a byproduct of aging, I pay much more attention to obituaries and death notices than I ever did, doing the quick math between my age and the deceased’s. In any case, the more than 12 inches devoted to memorializing one 87-year old man was hard to ignore. (A shorter version appeared in Monday’s Times.)
George J. Hauptfuhrer, Jr., of Vero Beach, Florida died on August 2nd. He led a distinguished life as a college athlete, Navy officer, attorney, and leader of many charitable and philanthropic organizations. But, Hauptfuhrer? He lived most of his life in Philadelphia where he was a partner in a major law firm for decades. I don’t want to be at all disrespectful, but I can only imagine the reaction to hearing his name called out loud in a crowd. Many members of my congregation would head for the door, while, unfortunately some folks might throw their shoulders back and hold their heads higher.
I’ve avoided making fun of people’s names or translations on Chinese menus until now. My last name is so often mangled, that I try to learn and repeat a new name accurately. But, Hauptfuhrer? From what I read, he was a wonderful man, and he probably put up with a lot of cheap humor over the years. I hope that he rests in peace now, even if I would have changed seats if I found myself close to him.
Even though I have owned a smartyphone for over a year, I am not a fan of texting. It seems to presuppose that you have nothing to do but stare at your phone, waiting for a message, maybe any message from anyone. However, this morning I found a need to text because I learned that a dear person was in the hospital, pretty banged up, limited in range of motion, but his thumbs still free. Other folks were also sending me messages once I announced that I would be driving to the hospital right after work. So I was not entirely surprised to get the following text: "hello, can I take your shopping cart if it is still available" I thought that V.T. or K.K., with whom I had already communicated this morning about our incapacitated friend, needed a favor. I responded, "When and where?" as an indirect means to find out exactly who sent this message. The rapid response was "This afternoon like 6pm or 6:30pm in flushing [Queens]." OK. V.T. was already dealing with her own brother’s confinement in a hospital and he lived in Queens; she probably needed to schlep something for him. Since I planned to be visiting our hospitalized friend at that time, I said, "Ask Mayris." Now it got interesting. Right away, I got a burst of Chinese and a parallel message, "What’s that?" I brilliantly countered, "Wrong number?" Immediately, my correspondent ended our dialogue with, "What are you mean Mayris?" which is a question that ranks up there with Freud asking, "What do women want?"
Is it possible that making bossa nova into one word and changing the first O to an A, spelled doom for Bassanova Ramen, 79 Mott Street, which I visited last week, on its second day of operations. When I walked by today to inspect the fruit stalls at Canal Street & Mulberry Street, southeast corner (Best Bet - champagne mangos 2 for $1), I saw that the joint was closed. No little sign proclaimed its fate. I’ll keep an eye out and keep you posted.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
I wound up giving my extra ticket to the Mets game tonight to a man standing outside the stadium wearing a Staten Island Yankees hat, on the condition that he wear it backwards, a pose that I generally find unappealing. Nevertheless, I sat through a long, somewhat tedious, game, even though I kept telling myself, "10 more minutes," "end of this inning," and "at 9:30." My indecision paid off in the end, as the Mets regained the lead in the 8th inning and held on. My ample lunch with Marty the Super Clerk at Kitchenette, 156 Chambers Street, sustained me throughout the evening. While we were too early to enjoy it, Kitchenette has a Cupcake Tea for Two, weekdays 3 to 5, including sandwiches, scones and cupcakes, $35 for two people. It seems a little pricey, but Kitchenette’s baked goods are especially good, rumor has it.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Happy Birthday to Prof. David Lee McMullen, historian at the University of South Florida, located in St. Petersburg, Florida, which, despite its name, is nearer to the Florida-Georgia border than to Miami, if you drive, almost exactly the same distance if you fly a crow.
Bassanova Ramen was open today, but I did not inquire whether it intends to remain open for more than a day or two at a time. If it stays in operation, I will likely return in cold weather when its hearty brews will be most comforting.
Feeling the need for a treat, I went to Mottzar Kitchen, 70 Mott Street (April 18, 2012), for Peking duck, a dish given a prominent position on its menu. I found that it warranted the attention when I was served a large half of a duck ($20.95) or a half of a large duck, thoroughly roasted with crispy skin. The server (not in chef’s whites and toqueless unlike what you experience in Beijing) carefully schmeared some tasty hoisin sauce on a spongy 3 1/2" disk, then placed a slice of skin, slivers of scallion and cucumber on the dough before folding. Were he using 9" rice pancakes, he would have rolled not folded and had a heftier handful. That’s not a complaint mind you, merely an observation.
I was worried when my server swept away the duck’s carcass, which had given up very little flesh to the six buns we created. Looking nervously around for a serving of duck carcass to total strangers, I relaxed when my server and my duck returned to my table, chopped into handy chunks. And it was by hand that I started pushing the pieces of delicious duck meat, with little fat to be removed, into my mouth. In all, a superb meal, even if I had to wash my hands twice before setting fingers to this keyboard.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
I used to eat cold sesame noodles as frequently as I now eat scallion pancakes, but I’ve skipped that dish for some time. Since it is still summer, although with mild temperatures today, I decided that a cold dish would fit the bill. I wasn’t even sure where I could find a good version of this classic. The only time that I can recall ordering it in Chinatown in recent years, I was thoroughly disappointed at Wo Hop City, 15 Mott Street (street level), not to be confused with Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street (downstairs), where I ate two mouthfuls and sent it back without paying, a singular experience. Wo Hop, in fact, was packed with European tourists so I walked on by.Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, did not list it on its menu, usually a source of excellent food. So, I went into Joe’s Ginger, 25 Pell Street, known for its soup dumplings and scallion pancakes when I espied cold noodles with sesame sauce ($4.65) on the menu in its window. It was very good, although the medium-sized portion left me room mentally and physically for another dish, but, as always, self-control won out.
Friday, August 9, 2013
It's been raining on and off since yesterday afternoon, usually in strong bursts. This morning a TV crew were undeterred as they worked on the plaza opposite the courthouse (once occupied by J.C. Penney). The show being recorded is called "Unforgettable," which is not a tribute to Natalie Cole. It deals with a female police detective who has hyperthymesia, a rare medical condition that allows her to remember everything visually. I don't know if there's a name for it, but America's Favorite Epidemiologist has a condition that seems to allow her to remember only what I want her to forget.
Mid-morning, I received another text message on my smartyphone, all in Chinese this time. When I responded "Wrong number," I received a polite English-language apology. Next time, I must remember to ask them what is their favorite restaurant.
I may not need their advice because I had a great meal today at Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, which I skipped yesterday. Knowing that chicken is on the dinner menu tonight at Palazzo di Gotthelf, I ordered beef with scallions ($5.95) off the lunch menu. This brought me white rice and a bowl of hot and sour soup, which was exceptional except somewhat unnecessary on this hot and sticky day. The beef was excellent, the portion approaching full size. With the scallion pancake (nobody does it better) ($2.25) that I started with, I had a lot of wonderful food at a very reasonable cost.