Friday, May 15, 2015

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Partners

Monday, May 11, 2015
I admit that a week ago I didn’t read much beyond the headline "Native American Actors Work to Overcome a Long-Documented Bias," inspired by a walkout of Native American actors from the set of a comedy in production, which lampooned Native Americans, and in general protest of the lack of casting opportunities. However, the matter came to mind Saturday night when we went to a short-term revival of Zorba!, a Broadway musical based on the successful book and movie Zorba the Greek. I found this production only mildly entertaining, but that’s not what is worth reporting. There were nine featured performers, namely (last only for the sake of space): Chanler-Berat, Cuccioli, Davis, Fontana, Mazzie, Montano, Turturro, Valdes and Wanamaker. While it is possible that all of these had mothers with maiden names ending in "opoulos," I'd bet against it. In other words, this was a Greek-free cast of a work set entirely in Greece, the isle of Crete to be exact. The 21-person supporting ensemble, singers and dancers, showed the slightest improvement, one person with a recognizable Greek surname. This woeful under representation (1 in 30 overall) may reflect distress with Greece's position in Eurozone negotiations, or simply a reminder that Telly Savalas is dead.

For those of you who actually wish to connect your health with what you eat, I can refer you to "How to Eat Healthy Meals at Restaurants," found on-line today.

It includes food at Olive Garden, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Starbucks and even McDonald’s. All that the article can manage in Chinese food is Panda Express, with almost 1,700 locations in the US and its possessions. For better or worse, New York City is limited to one Panda Express operation in Queens, one in Brooklyn and one at JFK airport, which eliminates it from my normal meanderings. If you happen upon a Panda Express anywhere, and your health is upper most on your mind, as opposed to "Is there anyplace else around here?", the article recommends beef with broccoli, mixed vegetables, brown rice (half portion) and a Diet Pepsi for a total of 440 calories.

For my lunch, I returned to Jaya Asian Cuisine 888, 90 Baxter Street, for the third time in its short life. I went early, around 12:30, because another time last week the crowds kept me out. I am making these frequent visits in the hope of finding Jaya to be a very good Malaysian restaurant, a little better than West New Malaysia Restaurant, 46-48 Bowery. It hasn’t reached that yet. Today, I ordered roti telur ($5.95), a delicate crêpe wrapped around a thin omelet with green and red peppers, served with a buttery curry dipping sauce. It was a very good dish, rated A for all intents and purposes. I also had a lunch special (all at $6.95) and I risked ordering sweet and sour chicken over rice, in the hope that the Malaysians had a new wrinkle to this clichéd dish. Hope again, big guy.

While not serving the advertised soup of the day with the lunch special is a minor setback, Jaya is destined to disappoint me more significantly, at least, for the months to come. It throws its doors, windows and walls open to the street, making for a festive air – a hot and humid festive air. Perspiration does not lubricate my appetite.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WZW, 88 East Broadway (February 14, 2011), is physically almost the direct opposite of Jaya, which opened its windows, doors and walls to the outside. WZW is buried in the basement of the mall under the Manhattan Bridge, full of jewelers, beauty salons, telephone calling card and cell phone plan vendors. Tables, chairs, benches and stools are scattered in the area, which was surprisingly well airconditioned, although bereft of natural light. I ordered exactly the same dish as I had over 4 years ago, fried clams with mei fun ($6), and was again pleased with the result and the unchanging price. I enjoyed a big pile of mei fun (vermicelli) cooked with egg, lettuce, celery, onion, and scallion, accompanied by eight baby clams, roasted open, not fried.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
"Researchers who surveyed 6,200 lawyers about their jobs and health found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost zero correlation with happiness and well-being. However, lawyers in public-service jobs who made the least money, like public defenders or Legal Aid attorneys, were most likely to report being happy."

Stony Brook Steve ventured downtown to have lunch with me. We went to Hop Lee, 16 Mott Street, one of the Hop Quartet in the immediate vicinity – Wo Hop City, 15 Mott Street, Wo Hop, 17 Mot Street, Hop Kee, 21 Mott Street, and Hop Lee, 16 Mott Street. Hop Lee operates on two floors, only the bottom level, semi-underground, open during the week for lunch. Since they did not offer dumplings or scallion pancakes as a forshbeis, we decided to have three lunch specials, for the two of us, at $5.75 each. We chose sweet and pungent fish kew, beef with curry and Szechuan chicken. White rice came along for the ride, but first our waiter offered us soup. Neither of us was quite sure what he said, "Chicken feet soup" vs. "Chicken meat soup." I had half a bowl of the mild broth while Steve merely stared at it. Whatever was floating in its did not look like a foot. The solid food was good, a little timidly seasoned, in reasonable portions for the price.

I won’t go on at length about my history with B&H Dairy, 127 Second Avenue, which reaches back into the 1960s. In a nutshell, they have had consistently the best (restaurant) French toast anywhere, confirmed by my cohabiting researcher. The following provides a fair assessment of the joint.
Unfortunately, the recent fatal gas explosion two doors away forced it to close, and it is now struggling to reopen, having to deal with building codes and safety concerns. I donated $25 today to help it reopen. Once B&H is back in business, I’ll go for French toast and report back.

Thursday, May 14, 2015
I fear that there may be an unhealthy trend developing among Chinese restaurants. Just as I reported that the new version of Mission Chinese, 171 East Broadway (January 20, 2015), was open only for dinner, Fung Tu, 22 Orchard Street, given a two star review in the food section of yesterday’s New York Times, also serves dinner only. Both restaurants aim to distinguish themselves from your regular chop suey joints by serving up some unusual concoctions, such as kung pao pastrami at Mission. However, that’s no excuse for keeping the doors closed while the sun is still shining, unless it’s all about attitude.

Herb and Ruth Dooskin and Nick Lewin joined me for lunch at Pasteur Grill & Noodles, 85 Baxter Street, a Vietnamese restaurant. The Dooskins recently went to Vietnam and Cambodia and I was eager to be reminded of many of the things that I experienced on the trip Jill and Steve, my young bride and I took in the winter of 2012. The only notable differences between their trip and ours was their good fortune at being at Angkor Wat at sunrise on a clear morning, without the thick haze that we faced, and their greater tolerance for the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, a show that I described as silly – not Monty Python silly, just plain silly (January 28, 2012).

Besides enjoying their anecdotes, we all enjoyed fried vegetable spring rolls, green papaya salad topped with peanuts and shredded chicken, 2 plates of fried egg noodles (really lo mein) with vegetables in curry sauce – one with shrimp, one with chicken – and beef tenderloin tossed with onions, basil and lime juice. We also shared one small dessert, banana with tapioca in coconut milk. The Dooskins treated, making for a perfect lunch.

Friday, May 8, 2015
Head for the hills. According to the following: "Growing up in some places — especially liberal ones — makes people less likely to marry, new data shows."

You have to read this for yourself. It’s full of juicy observations, such as "[t]he places that discourage marriage most tend to be cities." Population density seems to make a big difference, which leads me to suggest that the more you are around people, the less likely you want to marry them.

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