Saturday, February 13, 2016

I Concede That Pastrami Is Romanian

Monday, February 8, 2016
We have just returned from celebrating the birthday of Super Bowl Baby Boy Boaz, in Massachusetts.  Today, of course is the Chinese New Year, the year of the fire monkey, a character described as "ambitious and adventurous, but irritable."  If that describes you, it probably means that you were born some multiple of 12 years ago, corresponding to the Chinese annual zodiac.  Here are some dos and don'ts for the year of the fire monkey for all of us, but especially Australians.

Regardless of the character of the year ahead, we need to eat.  Here is a collection of recipes that I encourage you to try out; I'll sample the results, if asked.

If fate keeps you away from New York City the next time that you are hungry, you can sample Chinese food in the Boston area.

I agree with the critic's admiration for Sichuan Gourmet, 271 Worcester Road, Framingham, which our three generations have enjoyed visiting several times.  Even our little ones appreciate their scallion pancakes before wandering table to table.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Chinese food is not my only passion.  I am also devoted to the New York Times crossword puzzles, and the paper has taken the trouble to analyze 74 years of clues and answers, with some fascinating results.
 How about "1995 court V.I.P" or " Am ___ blame?" or "Skater Midori" for an answer that appeared over 100 times?

I haven't heard of anyone objecting to the term "Chinese New Year" yet (something to do with big crowds maybe), but we can look to Brown University for inspiration.  In April 2009, the faculty voted to change the name of Columbus Day to the Fall Weekend holiday.  Now, probably because Winter, Spring and Summer had their feelings hurt, they voted to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day.
How about all the capitalists who feel left out on Labor Day?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Last night, after admiring Kim Sykes's latest paintings on display (through April 4th) at the Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia Street, Mr. & Mrs. Stony Brook Steve, America's Favorite Epidemiologist and I went to dinner at Rasa, 25 West 8th Street, featuring Malaysian and Thai food and sushi.  The room is long and relatively narrow.  About one-third of the floor is taken by bars, liquor and sushi.  Seating is on benches running along the available wall space, with black leather(ette?) cushioned back rests. opposite dark wooden tables and chairs, holding about 40 people in all.  By 7:30 PM, all seats were taken.

Since I have gotten familiar with Malaysian food in Chinatown, I ordered two of my favorite dishes, roti canai ($7.25), the thin flaky Indian pancake with curry dipping sauce, and Rendang beef ($18), "simmered until dry with exotic spices, lemongrass, lime leaves & grated coconut with thick coconut milk."  The only thing memorable about either dish was the price, about twice what superior versions cost at Wok Wok, Southeast Asian Kitchen, 11 Mott Street.  On the other hand, the art, the company and the conversation were excellent.

Thursday, February 11, 2016
Jeffrey Heller, major league humanitarian, touted Trader Joe's scallion pancakes to me.  They come frozen, 4 to a package for $3.49.  Each is about 5" round and nearly 1/2" thick, weighing slightly less than 1/4 pound.  I had three for dinner tonight and was very pleased.  They contain more vegetables than the typical Chinatown version, onions, scallions, leeks, carrots, closer to a frittata than a crêpe.  I pan fried them with a shpritz of vegetable oil.  They are vegetarian, but not vegan (sigh of relief).  Fill your freezer with them for a quick and satisfying breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Once upon a time, many Jews avoided saying "Jewish" when identifying themselves and tried to deflect its usage by others.  I thought that was past us in the US until two very disparate things caught my attention.  Today's New York Times crossword puzzle gives "hora" as the answer to the clue "Romanian wedding dance."  While Wikipedia defines hora as "a type of circle dance originating in the Balkans but also found in other countries," I guarantee that the last 94 horas any of us witnessed were at Jewish celebrations, weddings and b'nai mitzvahs.  I just don't think that New York metropolitan area party spaces are teeming with Romanian weddings.

Then, there was Bernie Sanders's speech after winning the New Hampshire primary.  "I am the son of a Polish immigrant."  I'll bet that his father didn't call himself Polish and Poles didn't call his father Polish.  He was Jewish and he wasn't allowed to forget it.  "Jews (and not only in Poland) tended to view Polish society and Polish history as being in a perpetual process of growing anti-Semitism," according to Grzegorz Krzywiec, a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of History.  Once they got to the Goldene Medina, Jews and Poles did not ignore their historic differences and dance the hora together at Romanian weddings.

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