Monday, January 25, 2010

Life is a Bowl of Chinese Wonton Noodle Soup.

In a week from now I will be sitting back at home in Budapest... wishing I was on East Broadway eating chinese wonton and noodle soup. It is always like this. I can easily leave the United States of Fox TV, of the mind numbing shopping malls and the squalid Starbucks coffee shops and the strange puffy stuff they think is bread, but I have the hardest time leaving the Chinese noodle soups. Fumie and I spend hours weekely trying to piece together the recipes for the proper soup stock, we run all over town chasing after some dry pasta that may or may not provide something "like" the classic Hong Kong fresh Cantonese noodle bite, but it is hopeless. You want Chinese noodle soup? You have to go to a Chinatown to have it.
The best thing about Chinese noodle soup may well be the price. You can fill yourself up for under four dollars, five if you want a chunk of roast duck or char siu pork tossed in. Yesterday Fumie and I made a beeline for one of our favorite places at 70 East Broadway in the heart of the Fujienese Chinese neighborhood: the East Corner Wonton Resturant.These are the places that your parents never took you to. You can easily recognize them by the ducks and ribs hanging in the window, and they seem to be on every street corner in lower Manhattan, adn quicte honestly, I am amazed that there isn't a Chinese noodle shop on every street corner in the entire world... we don't want your cheap goods and shoddy plastic shoes, China. We want your noodles. And your Roast duck. On Rice. We will give you five dollars of hard american currency for it. We will let you control if you will add some crispy spare ribs in sauce with that. Heck, we will hand over the entire American economy for it if you throw in some steamed chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. We are not proud. It's called pragmatism.
Suddenly, one-sided globalization seems like a much more comfortable concept. Chinese noodle soup comes in various forms, from a filling and cheap noodles and shrimp wonton version to noodles, shrimp, and any of a variety of roast meats seen hanging in the window. Duck, roast pork, stewed tripe, roast cuttlefish, and even those squiggly things that we think are pig intestines - I've had them, they are good, but I have never had them in a place where anybody spoke enough English to explain them to me.
I have a weakness for stewed beef, which means beef tendon, a gelatin-rich cut of cow leg that makes my skin feel like a baby's bottom. My advice for eating in a Chinese soup joint is - if you think you will not like something, and if the waiter feels he needs to warn your round-eyed lao wai ass about it, it is probably really good to eat. When the waiter says "You no like that" just remember to listen to him in reverse: you like that.
So go for the gelatinous stewed beef tendon... the squiggly pig guts... the orange cuttlefish... and always order the "chinese vegetable" with oyster sauce! You can thank me later. And trust that the world of New York's Chinatown knows exactly how to present itself. A bit later we striolled around and visited some of the local shops... excellent kitchen ware cheaper than anywhere lese in the world. And also the Chinese pharmacies, which offer cures for a dizzying array of ailments that all of us can use.

1 comment:

Rick Bruner said...

Mmm, healthy brain pills!