Happy Valentine’s Day or The Secret Chinese Menu Strikes Again!

So, first of all, and since I’m thinking of Louise and she posted about Valentine’s Day in Japan, I’m sort of surprised by the non-issue that is Valentine’s Day here. I work in an office FULL of women and I expected a little bit more of an event. There was no asking about plans for the night, no little candies passed around, nobody appeared to receive flowers. I was at least expecting people to ask me if I was going out to dinner. Nothing.

The streets, however, are a different world altogether. I saw lots and lots of people with balloons. Lots and lots of balloons, in fact, while I regularly pass people selling flowers in the street, I usually don’t see people selling balloons. Many more balloons than flowers. Balloons on sticks, balloons on string, I didn’t get a balloon.

Anyway, we did go out to dinner tonight. We walked over to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, which is now the second time we’ve been and I’m starting to really like this place. It is still expensive and we can’t go there all the time, but ACTUAL Chinese people eat there.

Unfortunately, the actual Chinese people didn’t arrive until we were paying the bill, so I was not able to point to their table and ask the waiter to bring me whatever they were eating. I was also really missing Louise, I already know that the restaurant is Cantonese, and Louise could tell them to bring us real Chinese food and not goopy/saucy stuff. (Although, we quite liked our goopy/saucy stuff, as it had really good flavor and the vegetables are still crunchy.)

But, after rudely trying to listen in on the conversation behind us – in Cantonese – which was wildly unsuccessful in helping us learn what was on the Secret Chinese menu, we just went ahead and asked the waitress what the folks behind us had just ordered. I was reminded of Calvin Trillin in “The Tummy Trillogy” where he continually complains about his lack of ability to speak Chinese and how it is preventing him from a really good meal.

So, the folks behind us ordered stir-fried baby chard with mushrooms, the first of the season, the waitress explained. Making it that much worse. She did tell us that the next time we come in, ask for her and ask what the kitchen is preparing that is not on the menu. I think, with that, we just might be gaining access to the secret Chinese menu.

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4 Responses to “Happy Valentine’s Day or The Secret Chinese Menu Strikes Again!”

  1. Max Says:

    oh man, I’m jealous. Cincinnati lacks in ethnic foods.

  2. aj burke Says:

    What? You’ve been blogging about some great food, Max. Maybe Cincy doesn’t have many ethnic restaurants, but you’ve gotten the food a better way: by circumventing the restaurant and getting the food from the real people making it – your students, and people at the festivals you’ve gone to.

    D, linking back to your first visit to the restaurant reminded me that just this morning I was thinking about how sad it is that we’ll never again be scammed out of our money at cards by Gma B. Perhaps that’s a strange lament…she was just so good at it, you had to admire her.

  3. A2 Says:

    Hey girl, you did not get a balloon…. but you got flowers!

  4. barbara Says:

    A and D, I’ll have to practice up and see if I can relieve you of some coinage. I know it won’t be the same, but I could use the lunch money, ha-ha.

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