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Entries in Chinese Food (1)


Playing with your food, and other causes of blindness

flavoredsoup.jpgWhen you live in a quaint (read: boring) little town, the great thing about traveling is the opportunity to try new restaurants. So, when I was in Cheyenne, Wyoming yesterday (not far from Denver) I was giddy as a schoolgirl to treat my palate to something uniquely local. Bison meuniere, trout lyonnaise, oysters Rocky Mountain--basically expecting something from the Ted Nugent school of culinary delights.

Imagine my shock and awe when my traveling companions all wanted Chinese. I’m part Chinese and I’ve eaten a lot of funky food––chicken feet, abalone, tripe, jellyfish. As Chow Yun-Fat said in The Corruptor, "if you wanna be Chinese, you gotta eat the nasty stuff." He ain’t kidding. Still, I’m wary of Asian food in western towns. So I attempted a little dinner misdirection by asking the Pakistani woman at the hotel desk what she'd recommend. Sure enough, she mentioned a Chinese place. (Insert Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho sounds here). I’m not a food critic, but a Chinese restaurant recommended by a middle-eastern woman in Wyoming has a hard time getting past my deflector shields.

But, I was outvoted, so I girded my loins. How bad could it be? I’ve already eaten at the worst Chinese restaurant in the Western hemisphere which happens to be in Hope, British Columbia. Hope, for those Rambo fans keeping score in your fortified bunkers at home, is where the movie First Blood was filmed. I should have known the Chinese food would be lacking by the framed photos of Pope John Paul II that graced every wall. Nothing against Polish people by any means, but let’s settle this here and now. If you promise to never again make Peking duck, we’ll step away when it’s time to make the pirogues.  Deal?

Turns out my night in Cheyenne had a happy ending. The Twin Dragon restaurant was wonderful. Run by a family that spoke chopped Mandarin and little else. The food was spicy-hot, authentic Szechuan style, unlike anything I’d had in a while. I was so happy I even ordered a few things to go, for the desk staff back at the hotel.

Why am I telling you this? Partially because I’m home now, blearily looking past a slice of cold pizza and cruising Emily’s Parisian lunch blog, but I also just finished reading Hush by Anne Frasier on the plane. Whether consciously of not, Anne sprinkled food throughout the story. Even ending on some interesting spaghetti sauce, which you’ll have to read the book to appreciate.

It made me look at the sense of taste that I tend to inject into my own writing. Whether I do it to enhance a cultural setting or simply to establish a time of day, I have food everywhere. Maybe too much food. Maybe I need to switch to Jenny Craig. Joe Konrath says to ask questions on your blog. So I guess I'd better end with a question. Does my butt look fat in these jeans?