Friday, February 5, 2016

Mangez, Mon Amis

Monday, February 1, 2106
There are times when my physically big head seems to contain a very small mind.  One example is in the realm of gender.  Recently, "the 127-year-old American Dialect Society anointed 'they,' the singular, gender-neutral pronoun, the 2015 Word of the Year . . . where they is used for a person who does not identify as male or female."  See

I didn't have a vote, but I would not have chosen to abandon the classic distinction between singular and plural when an obvious alternative exists when he or she is inexact:  It.

My interest in Chinese food is well known, but now there may be reason to classify it as an addiction, not merely an affinity.  It seems that some restaurants in China have been adding poppy capsules to their food.  They are "made from the dried pericarp of the ripe fruit of an opium poppy plant."

Yes, I looked up pericarp -- "the walls of a ripened fruit."  So, chopsticks may be as dangerous as hypodermic needles.  

Here is a headline that probably delights old and young alike: "Grandparents Who Babysit Are Less Likely To Develop Alzheimer's." 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
I'm sorry but I missed a very important dispatch late last year, possibly because it appeared on Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday.

France’s Foreign Ministry has compiled La Liste, "an ambitious ranking of what it claims are the 1,000 best 'tables of exception' in the world."  The top spot in the world went to Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, Crissier, Switzerland. 

Dinners start at $297; a fixed price lunch is $196.  However, the joy of victory was short-lived.  The 44-year old chef, Benoît Violier, promptly committed suicide.

Per Se, 10 Columbus Circle, New York, is ranked #2 in the world and #1 in the USA.  Before you spend $325 to curb your hunger (but not your thirst, that's extra) at Per Se, you might check out the its latest review in the New York Times, containing "Slips and Stumbles" in the headline.

While we have never been to Per Se, America's Favorite Epidemiologist took me for a belated birthday dinner at the French Laundry, 6440 Washington Street, Yountville, California, the senior creation of Thomas Keller, on April 1, 2003.  The nine course dinner cost $135 back then plus drinks plus an 18% service charge.  It was good, as I recall, but only the copy of the menu that I saved reminds me of what I actually ate.  

La Liste brings back more vivid memories of what I consider the finest meal that I have ever had.  It designates La Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France, as #8 in the world.

I went there alone on my first trip to France in October 1985.  I chose the dinner menu for 350 francs, plus drinks and 15% service charge.  David Goldfarb, bon vivant, helped me with the translation of the menu that I removed at the time and kept ever since.  The meal consisted of
Mixed salad greens with currants
Soft-boiled egg with caviar
Fillet of salmon in sorrel sauce
Lobster poached in tomato sauce
Veal kidney with sweet peppers
Cheese platter
Dessert cart
Petit fours

I remember particularly the egg and the lobster.  When the captain wheeled over the dessert cart for me to make a choice, I unleashed my high school French and said, "Tout."

By the way, 350 francs converted to $45.50.  That you don't forget.

Thursday, February 4, 2016
Headline: "Health Care Signups Exceed Hopes, With 4 Million Newcomers to Federal Marketplace"

Marco Rubio's web site tells us: "One of the first votes Marco took in the Senate was to repeal ObamaCare, and he has fought to replace the failed law ever since."

Ted Cruz, another member of the Buena Vista Social Club, states, "I support repealing every single word of Obamacare."

And, DT, my fellow New Yorker promises, "I would end Obamacare and replace it with something terrific, for far less money for the country and for the people."

My conclusion, vote Republican and meddle with success, or, at least, strip healthcare coverage from millions of Americans.  Of course, if Ben Carson is right that "Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," I may want to change my mind.

Friday, February 5, 2016
Even though I don't have the privilege of walking the streets of Chinatown every weekday any more, I try to keep up with developments down there, especially new joints.  Art S. and Jon S. (no relation) joined me at Wu's Wonton King, 165 East Broadway, open only a couple of weeks.  The place was freshly decorated, with off-white walls making for a bright interior.  It has 8 round tables and 20 two tops usually pushed together to seat four people.  It was busy because of or in spite of the fact that it is located as far east as the entropic Chinatown has grown.  

Wu's has a very large menu covering several major strands of Chinese cooking, but it doesn't have any hot mustard.  There are 30 lunch specials, all $5.50, including a small bowl of soup with a small clump of chicken.  We passed around Shrimp w/Peanuts w/Spicy Sauce, Beef w/Broccoli, and Chicken w/Black Bean Sauce.  The portions were quite generous and shared the plate with a large mound of white rice.  Additionally, we shared a large plate of Beef Chow Fun ($8.95), notable for its tender beef.  All the dishes were good, but the flavors were muted.  

Wu's is the second Chinese restaurant at this location, important in Jewish culinary and literary history as home to the dearly-missed Garden Cafeteria.

When I lived in Greenwich Village, I used to ride my bicycle to the Garden Cafeteria (if not to B&H Dairy) on Sunday mornings for lox and eggs and onions.  By the 1980s, the only Jews left in the neighborhood (whose dietary restrictions gave rise to the Garden and B&H) seemed to be politicians  (like Sheldon Silver) who had iron-fisted control over the local political clubhouses.  B&H, with 8 stools and 4 tiny tables, survived; the Garden, seating maybe 100 people, folded.  

Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?

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