Saturday, July 11, 2015

Street and Road Food

Monday, July 6, 2015
I read the New Yorker regularly.  With the Sunday paper, it takes most of my weekly reading time.  I also give a gift subscription, one now, 2 or 3 in the past, to friends far removed.  Therefore, I was bothered by the recent renewal notice for the magazine -- $99.95 for the first subscription (mine) and $89.95 for each and every gift.  That's already money.  It seemed like 50% more than when I last noticed.  I didn't want to curb my generosity, as limited as it is, or cut myself off, but I felt squeezed.  So, I put the renewal notice aside for a time.  

Then, I noticed what we naturally ignore, those flimsy postcard inserts that flutter out of a magazine's back pages.  They are called "blow-ins" and are properly considered an annoyance.  Calvin Trillin once suggested that we all deposit those blank postage-paid cards into the mailbox to teach publishers a lesson.  This evoked a harsh response from a spokesperson for "serious direct marketers."

Muttering over the prospect of paying almost two hundred bucks for a magazine, I saw that the card dropping to my feet from the latest copy of the New Yorker claimed to be offering a good deal on subscriptions.  As little as $1.47 a copy for 47 issues (a year's worth with double issues) plus a tote bag.  I called the customer service line found on my renewal notice and went over the math with the customer servicer.  Indeed, 47 times $1.47 equals $69.09, considerably less than $99.95,or even $89.95.  She reupped me (and my beneficiary) and threw in two tote bags, for $138.18.  Silence ain't golden.

Sesame Street is proving to be a bit of a rocky road.  I walked in and out of several joints today that don't serve cold sesame noodles: Wonton Noodle Garden, 56 Mott Street; Golden Mandarin Court, 61 Mott Street; Amazing 66 Restaurant, 66 Mott Street; Big Wong Restaurant, 67 Mott Street; 456 Shanghai Cuisine, 69 Mott Street.  Finally, I connected at Canton Lounge, 70 Mott Street.  The medium large portion was sprinkled with sesame seeds and generously sauced ($3.95).  The sauce was a tad sweet, keeping the dish from the top ranks.  It was good, though, and I made all gone.   

Queen Anne, Rainier or white cherries, they may not be the same, but I bought two pounds for $5 from the little lady on the southeast corner of Mulberry Street and Canal Street, a reliable source of fruit.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015  

My logic may not be fool-proof, but I see a parallel between the Confederate flag controversy and the Arab-Israeli conflict.  In both instances, it is the losers who have been trying to set the terms for the future.  Admittedly, the quagmire in the Middle East has several critical elements, but the refusal of Arab states to accommodate and assimilate their displaced brethren, pretending that return to territory lost in battle is a viable option, is no better than celebrating the flag of a defeated (and dishonored) cause.

The New York Times gave the results of a survey of 3,244 subscribers, not meant to represent the public at large.  The question was "How old were you when you first traveled out of the country you were born in?"  I can't find the link, so I'll repeat the results: 9% under 5 years old, 14% 5-9, 16% 10-14, 19% 15-19, 24% 20-24, 18% 25 or older.  Since I did not come from a household that offered me anything but a junior year in a part-time job in the bar association library, I thought that I would land on one end of the bell curve with my first trip to England at age 43, even though I've picked up the pace since then.  

However, I started thinking back – 1982, corporate conference in Toronto; 1974ish, vacation in Montreal; 1973, day trip to Tijuana; 1972, business junket to Germany; and, from the deep recesses of memory, 1950, family vacation trip around New York State in brand new, pea-soup green, 4-door Dodge sedan, including Niagara Falls, both sides.  So, I am more well-traveled than I first thought, but I doubt that many recent college sophomores would trade their upcoming academic year for all my early travels put together.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 
I'm not eating cold sesame noodles every few days in order to see how many cold sesame noodles I can eat every few days.  Rather, I think that this popular dish is a natural for lunch as the weather turns warm and warmer.  By popular, I don't mean as popular as chopped liver at a Shabbos dinner.  In fact, I'm discovering that cold sesame noodles aren't as popular in Chinatown as I first imagined.  Today, Delight 28 Restaurant, 28 Pell Street, and Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers Street, said no noodles.  However, Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, came through as it does consistently.  Their cold sesame noodles ($4.25) rated A- (I'm abandoning the mealymouthed use of Good and variations thereof in discussing cold sesame noodles).  The portion was medium large; slivers of cucumber on top, but no sesame seeds.  It was amply sauced, but the sauce lacked an edge.  Maybe a bit of soy sauce or hot sauce was needed.  Since I was at Shanghai Gourmet, I ordered a scallion pancake as well, since I have praised it here often enough.  However, I could have given a little more consideration to the choice of starch plus starch.  I'll try to remember next time.

Maybe I have not been following Republican politics closely enough, because I only learned today that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker does not have a college degree.  This distinguishes him from all of his competitors for the Republican presidential nomination, although occasionally the benefits of higher education appear to have eluded them.  The question then arises, "Would that make him a bad president?"  
This article by two political scientists concludes " we don't think so."  Their opinion is backed by their recent dry-as-dust academic paper on the subject:
Whatever your opinion of Scott Walker or of the value of higher education in general, I find the study far from conclusive.  The major problem is that they cast their net too far and include  "randomly audited municipalities in Brazil" alongside "data on close elections in the US Congress."  While I am not an American exceptionalist, I find it easy to separate Brazil, ("where the nuts come from," quoth Charley's fake aunt Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez) from the US Congress (where the nuts go to).  

Friday, July 10, 2015
Today begins a seven day vacation in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where my young bride has rented a house to gather in our three generations under one roof to celebrate her birthday.  I am sure that we will eat during this interlude, but I am uncertain how far east the menus will extend.  I will try to continue reporting even thus inhibited.
In fact, on the way up, we stopped at one of our very favorite on-the-road joints, Another Fork in the Road, 1215 Route 199, Red Hook, New York, just a short distance from the Red Hook exit of the Taconic Parkway.  If you have any reason to be in northern Dutchess County or southern Columbia County for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner, take Another Fork in the Road.  They make their own soda, use local products as much as possible, and offer surprising and surprisingly well-prepared dishes, such as Warm Duck Confit Salad, eggs benedict with smoked trout and shakshut, the spicy Israeli egg dish.  It made a great start to our vacation.

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