THE CHINA CONNECTIION


I miss the sight of the roasted ducks dripping succulent juice into the trough below, and promising the harbinger of good eating. Alas, the Dragon BBQ restaurant is no more. It is only the latest restaurant which has closed with no prior notice. Though this city has a huge influx of Asian people, we don’t seem to have a decent Chinese restaurant. One or two Chinese buffets have come and gone through the years, but they don’t last long. Where do they go for good Chinese food? Conversely, we have many Mexican restaurants.

During the years I took Tai Chi each morning, we had a monthly pot luck picnic. I was the only Caucasian and usually took cake or a casserole. They brought ethnic food including chicken feet. unidentifiable dishes and many delicious steamed buns. Always with an enormous jug of hot tea with leaves floating around. It was a great way to get connected.

A number of years ago I wanted to buy goose livers for a pate recipe, so I went up to Oakland which has a large Chinatown, taking my mother in law for a day’s jaunt. Popping into several markets, I realized that no one spoke English which left me wondering how to connect with them. So I flapped my arms and quacked, hoping I sounded like some sort of barnyard fowl. I never got the goose liver, but I got duck liver and we both got a free lunch.

My mother in law was raised on a ranch in Chico, CA, where they had a Chinese cook, who still wore a queue. A ranch hand, thinking it a joke, cut it off one day. My husband’s grandfather chased the culprit off the ranch, whereupon he and the “Chinee” cook shook hands. Amazingly to my husband’s grandfather, the cook offered him a Masonic handshake. I now have a large porcelain teapot which came with the cook from China.

My MIL was quite fond of the Chinese, partly stemming from the herbalist who cured her mother’s paralysis. Would she be pleased or not with the amount of Chinese immigrants today?

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Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

13 thoughts on “THE CHINA CONNECTIION”

    1. I have heard both chicken and turkey feet are great to add to a soup stock. Haven’t tried it though. I don’t usually like “buffets”, but there is one in a nearby town which is very good. I don’t like the idea that food trays are open for people to reach in and help themselves.

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  1. The Chinese restaurants here in our little town feature local Aussie waiters. It’s a very Anglo town and somehow having local waiters make the local diners feel confident, ‘things must be reasonably hygienic.’ Apart from that, in order to placate things even further, the dishes are tuned and watered down to an almost Yorkshire Pudding level.
    We prefer the Thai restaurants where the dishes are put on the table by the Thai cook. The local Thai students eat there, always a good sign.

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    1. I haven’t had Thai food, but my Granddaughter enjoys it over any of the Asian food. She brought a Korean friend who brought the lunch as her father owned a Korean restaurant. I found I liked the Chinese better but I suppose it depends upon what we are accustomed to. I’m open to nearly all kinds of food though I seem to cook either Italian or Mexican.

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  2. I was told by many of my Chinese students (mainly Taiwanese) that their parents do not eat out unless there is a buffet. One would think that in a city where the Chinese population continues to grow (Mission San Jose has to be 75% Chinese) that great Chinese restaurants would open. You make a great point, Kayti. I do not eat out Chinese here after I had a Chinese tortilla that had mildew. Keeping food too long is not a good practice.

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    1. What is a Chinese tortilla? Doesn’t even sound good. I know what you mean though. I once had food poisoning after eating at a local coffee shop in Mission San Jose, and have never eaten there again. Silly I know, but you never forget.

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  3. It seems that living whee you do, you should have your choice of good Chinese restaurants. Like you, we have several Mexican restaurants, but only one Chinese restaurant, which doesn’t have a good reputation. I enjoyed the story of your quest for goose livers.

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    1. Sadly I never got goose livers that day, but the duck were fine and I have even used chicken liver for the pate recipe. No one takes the time these days to make it anyway. Surprisingly I find so many of the younger set like onion dip! Remember that one?

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  4. Isn’t it funny that Houston has great Chinese, Indian, and Thai food? There’s wonderful Dim Sum available, and if it weren’t an hour drive, I’d be there every week. The steamed pork buns are my favorite, although there are many good dishes. There’s a Thai restaurant much closer — a hole in the wall, really — that’s said to be “the” spot for NASA engineers to go. And, I’ve discovered a Vietnamese Buddhist temple tucked away in a little town about fifteen miles away. They provide a free lunch every Sunday noon, and once I’ve gotten to know people, I’m going to go over for that. The first time I stopped in, I couldn’t find a single sign in English, and no one who spoke English. But everyone smiled!

    When I lived in Berkeley, I worked for a Chinese professor, and spent quite a bit of time with his family. Every now and then we’d head over to San Francisco’s Chinatown for dinner. He seemed to know everyone, and we’d go through doors and up stairs until we were in a room by ourselves, or with only a few others, and there were no menus. The prof would order in Chinese, and we’d eat whatever showed up. It always was good — and no chicken feet!

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    1. We have an Indian temple here which serves meals to the public on certain days. I have never eten there though. San Francisco’s Chinatown has so many good restaurants. The one we loved for years was Johnny Kan’s where you walked up stairs. It used to be posh but I understand it has tarnished through the years. I use his cookbook. Dr. A’s secretary (Chinese) took our daughters and me there first and ordered wonderful food. I asked my acupuncturist where they ate and he gave me the name of one place. We checked it out and everything was written in Chinese and no one spoke English. Or maybe they didn’t want our custom. I tried to thank an Asian employ of Costco for some sandwiches they had made, and he kept trying to hand me a new tray of them! Maybe they think we are morons.

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