Saturday, October 11, 2014

Praise the Lord and Pass the Salt

Monday, October 6, 2014
One problem that I have with organized religion is the sanctimonious pretense to hold eternal verities, without conceding that eternal is often not forever.  For instance, a thousand years ago, the big rabbis decided that chicken really was meat, an important definition within Jewish dietary rules.  Before that, chicken wasn’t considered meat, allowing it to be served with dairy dishes.  St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, Roman Catholic theological giants, placed “animation” at about 40 days after conception.  I’m not going to put English words into their Latin mouths, but they seemed to be speaking of personhood, if not life.

This philosophical exercise is inspired by comments from Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the second highest Mormon governing body.  In explaining his church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, he recently said: “While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not.”  The trouble is that Apostle Andersen forgot that, “in 1890, President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church, received what Latter-day Saints believe to be a revelation in which God withdrew the command to practice plural marriage.”  [Offical Mormon media outlet]  So, the Lord never changes her mind, unless she does.   

Conservation of Resources Headline: “ISIS’ Ammunition Is Shown to Have Origins in U.S. and China”

What a start to a new year.  Last week, I found a new restaurant, and today I found another one.  Kaede, Japanese Restaurant, 90 Chambers Street, is barely open one week.  Its interior is quite attractive, with two-foot square slate-looking tiles, very dark brown faux-leather upholstery, a wall of cherry-toned wood and a sleek sushi bar on its back wall.  However, the vacuous “pop” style background music was too much in the foreground.  

Because we had two different types of salmon at lunch and dinner yesterday, I skipped the sushi, which was probably a mistake.  Instead, I order a bento box ($11.95) with teriyaki chicken.  It had four small pieces of a very good California roll (crypto-crabmeat and avocado), three mini shu mei dumplings, also very good, a salad of iceberg lettuce, as if you needed to be reminded why iceberg lettuce makes a bad salad, and a thin piece of tough white meat chicken, cut into strips and covered with a vague sauce.  It also came with a bowl of cloudy miso soup.  The California roll was so good, although not what I usually order, that I’ll probably return for straight sushi in the future.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
While I have to admit not having much luck with new restaurants this year, I can report on an outstanding ice cream flavor that has made its seasonal return – pumpkin at Trader Joe’s ($3.99 a quart).  It tastes enough like pumpkin if you like pumpkin, and not enough like pumpkin if you don’t like pumpkin.  It is very creamy with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  It is so seductive that, last night, America’s Favorite Epidemiologist had some even after her bedtime teeth brushing ritual.  

I went to an in-house educational session at lunch time, equipped with a chicken-lamb combo over rice ($6) from the Two Brothers Halal cart on the corner of Centre Street and Worth Street, although the cart was only large enough to hold one person.  If Jews and Muslims spent more time eating together, many of our problems might be resolved, or just forgotten in the glowing aftermath of an excellent meal.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
In spite of my rumored facility with language, I’m really a numbers guy.  After all, I taught ninth-grade algebra for a whole year.  So, I’m fascinated by the New York Times’s interactive college football map, which displays fan loyalty throughout the United States, by zip code, based on Facebook data.  
Forget the sports angle, it’s the sociology that intrigues me.  Why do minority neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan, Newark, Trenton, Camden, Boston, Worcester and Philadelphia “like” the football team of the University of Florida Gators so much?  I simply don’t believe that many of their residents have second homes in Gainesville, Florida.  Why are the North Carolina Tar Heels so popular in Montana, and along the border of South Dakota and Nebraska?  A very predictable result, however, is the national constituency for Notre Dame, with the exception of Utah where Roman Catholics are probably as much a threat as homosexuals..  
Thursday, October 9, 2014
The sign says Cheung Wong Kitchen, 38A Allen Street, but the menu says 38 Yummy Kitchen. In either case, it is a new restaurant for me, although not newly-opened.  It is small, 2 rectangular tables seat 6 each, and one small round table can fit another 6.  Half the floor space is taken by the open kitchen.  The restaurant sits on a corner and its north face and half of its west face are glass, allowing a lot of light into the otherwise dingy interior.

It offers almost 60 dishes over rice costing $4.50 to $6.75, most $5 or less.  I had Singapore chow fun, one of my signature dishes ($6.75).  It’s not on the menu, but Singapore chow mai fun and several chow funs are, so there was no hesitation in giving me what I asked for.  In spades.  It was the biggest portion of any noodle dish that I can recall, and well prepared, too.  The spicy curried noodles were mixed with green peppers, beef, pork, egg, shrimp, and bean sprouts.  I was very hungry, but still left about one quarter over.  A Styrofoam cup of tea was gratis.  

Friday, October 10, 2014
Trip Advisor, the website that aggregates reader’s opinions about hotels, restaurants and attractions all over the world, has just released its list of the 25 best restaurants in the United States, according to its respondents.  I’ll provide the top ten.  See

Alinea – Chicago
Eleven Madison Park – New York City
Restaurant Gary Danko – San Francisco
Halls Chophouse – Charleston, SC
Victoria & Albert’s – Orlando
Uchi – Austin
Bouley – New York City
Canlis Restaurant – Seattle
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse – Dallas
Daniel – New York City

Note that Bouley and Daniel did not get three stars from Michelin last week; only Eleven Madison Park did.  Three of the other seven top-rated New York Michelin group hit the top 25: Le Bernardin (11), Per Se (19) and Jean Georges (24).  In contrast to the Michelin 8, none of which we ever patronized, we have eaten at 3 of the 25: Bouley (before it moved around the corner), the French Laundry (Yountville, CA), and Chez Panisse (Berkeley, CA).  It looks like I have a lot of eating yet to do.

Tavish McMullen arrived last night for visit over the long weekend.  We have several interesting things planned, which will begin next week’s report.

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