There’s one of those memes going around on Facebook right now called “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me”, in which you’re supposed to list, well, 25 little known facts about yourself. I’ve been tagged but haven’t participated because I over think things: I don’t know who knows what about me, and the mental macrame that I can create with such a puzzle would be a terrible thing to behold.
But I was just reading this lovely little NPR piece on food for the Chinese New Year –coming up on January 26th, by the way — and I did come up with at least one little known fact: I am a Chinese food fanatic.
Maybe this isn’t a hard thing to guess, I grew up in Manhattan, and I’m Jewish, and everyone knows that Chinese food is Jewish soul food, and it’s also what you have to eat at Christmas time while going to movies and secretly reflecting on how your people killed the baby Jesus. (Kidding! Kidding!) But in the eight or so years that I lived outside New York City, in rural places throughout the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic, I wasn’t at home until I found a decent Chinese place, since I really want Chinese food at least once a week, and definitely on Sundays. I was able to find it in Oswego, NY, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but never, tragically, in southern New Hampshire, which is probably why I had to move within two years. One reason anyway.
I like to order Chinese food before I go away on a trip, and I always order it the night I return from a trip, and I start thinking about it on the plane trip home. (I even ordered Chinese food on the night I returned home from two weeks in China!)
For me Chinese food is properly and invariably consumed on the couch. Soup is the central part of the experience for me, everything else is extra. My favorite Chinese soup is egg drop with wonton soup, mixed, with extra scallions, but I also like hot and sour soup, especially the kind prepared by the Grand Sichuan, the Szechuan restaurant in my neighborhood. I also like the hot and sour soup prepared by Chinese Mirch, which specializes in the style of Chinese food served in India. When I’m ordering from an Americanized Chinese place in my neighborhood, I very often make a whole meal of Yang Chow wonton soup, which has wontons, chicken, pork, shrimp and spinach.
Nothing says “I’m home” to me as much as a paper bag filled with a container of Chinese soup.