Saturday, May 20, 2017

Washington Flu?

Monday, May 15, 2017
"Oslo," the imagined recreation of the events leading to the Israeli-Palestinian agreement of 1993, which I found thrilling, is up for a Tony award as the best Broadway play of the season.  Clyde Haberman, CCNY '62 and the Jerusalem correspondent for the New York Times during that period, discusses the play in light of his own recollections, a very worthy read.

By the way, Clyde's daughter Maggie is now one of the chief Washington correspondents for the New York Times.  I'll have to ask Clyde if she liked roller coasters as a child.
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Henry Chung just died.  He brought hot and spicy Hunan cuisine to the United States, opening Hunan Restaurant on Kearney Street in San Francisco in 1974.  I remember eating there several times in the 1970s and 1980s, most memorably with a business colleague whose mostly bald head erupted with perspiration as he plowed through one dish after another of the incendiary cuisine. 
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Speaking of food, and shouldn't we always be?  Berlin, Germany is proving to be one of the rare European capitals where Jews feel relatively comfortable these days.  Both Israelis and Russian Jews have sought it out in contrast to their hectic homelands.  This article describes the culinary angle to this demographic movement.

However, it starts off on an extremely provocative note: "Beige, boiled and usually packed in a gelatinous goo, gefilte fish is not the sort of dish that typically excites foodies."  While that is a fair description of the packaged product, clearly the ethnically ambiguously named Lindsay Gellman did not have an Eastern European grandmother who made gefilte fish from scratch, often beginning with the live whitefish, carp or pike swimming in the family bathtub.  That was a treat for any foodie; witness how the French tart it up with butter and cream, losing the safe haven of a parve designation, and call it quenelles.  

I have found only one laudatory exception to our grandmothers' traditional labor of love, that is the deep fried gefilte fish that Aunt Judi serves every Passover.  While she claims to purchase it, unlike all the other homemade delectables that cover her seder table, I'll always credit it to her in gratitude.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
I had a working lunch today with Toni Rabin, event planner supĂ©rieure.  For convenience sake, we met at Metro Diner, 2641 Broadway, and I was delightfully surprised by the experience.  It sits across from the deserted Metro movie theater, where I could be found in the balcony as a swooning college freshman.  The diner is a bit bigger than similar urban outposts, but nothing to compare to the sprawling chrome and brass covered suburban installations with their four-pound, plastic-laminated, illustrated menus.      

At the table, Metro made a strong first impression with complimentary cole slaw and real sour pickles that any Kosher delicatessen would be proud of.  I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich on baguette, packed with thick slices of fresh mozzarella and sweet peppers ($14.95).  The fat sandwich may properly be regarded as excellent, even without considering the good quality of the French fries accompanying it.  

What might have been a mundane, forgettable meal, except for Toni's company, turned into a special treat.  It's also worth mentioning that we were not rushed at the height of the lunch hour, although we sat with papers in front of us long after the plates were cleared.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Pio Pio operates several local Peruvian restaurants featuring rotisserie chicken.  So, I was surprised when Stony Brook Steve and I entered the restaurant at 604 Tenth Avenue (a storefront without an address, looking more like a nail salon from the outside) and found something other than a simple chicken joint.  The layout was deceptive.  Behind a small front room was a very long bar followed by a narrow corridor that leads to a balcony overlooking a very large room one story below.  And, this strange layout was almost full at 2 in the afternoon.  Maybe Peruvians have a different lunch hour or don't go to work on Wednesdays.

Not only were the premises much more expansive than I first imagined, the menu offered a broad look at Peruvian cuisine.  There were ceviches and camarones and anticuchos and salchipapa (a large plate of sliced frankfurters and French fries that Steve ordered for $6, an Incan answer to Nathan's).  I had their chicken, half for $9, with a side of rice and beans for $5.  Together it made for a delicious meal.  However, the chicken alone would not have been enough because this was a small bird.  On the other hand, sharing half a pitcher of sangria ($18) also made me more forgiving. 

Afterwards, we headed to St. Luke's Theatre, 308 West 46th Street, a quintessential Off-Broadway venue, to hear a reading of "In a Round-About Way," a new play by Kim Sykes, someone worthy of a paragraph of superlatives, but constrained by time and space, I will simply call a wonderful human being.  Her work is an imaginary encounter between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who actually had been a seamstress at the White House.
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My brother dug up the following article, which provides a fascinating history of baseball cards as background to a major legal case about the right of publicity, the control of their image by professional athletes.  It's perfect reading for us pedants.   

Thursday, May 18, 2017
A note to fans of the New York Mets: The team has been taken over by the New York Rangers, now out of playoff contention.  Despite the dissimilarities in equipment, rules and physical settings, the inability to win when leading late in the game has been easily transferred from one sport to the other.
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Psychiatrists have reopened debate on the "Goldwater Rule," a professional constraint on diagnosing public figures (politicians) without direct examination.  This seems to be a natural consequence of the behavior of you-know-who.  But, we don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind's blowing.

Rather, I am concerned about the role to be played by ophthalmologists and audiologists in diagnosing and treating Ryan-McConnell Disease, the inability to see and hear what is going on in front of them.  Or, is it a matter for a speech therapist -- how to get up and open a mouth?


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  2. Your Thursday entry is among your very best. Trust you saw the Mets cartoon in the New Yorker.