Re: 事白种人享用

1

Jeez Becks.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:08 PM
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Heck, even the Chinese food truck down the street gives bigger portions to people who order in Chinese.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:08 PM
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And what you said about Ben in the post title was pretty rude.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:10 PM
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事白种人享用

Clever, if syntactically incorrect.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:13 PM
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Sorry, didn't mean to sound like such a little bitch, there.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:18 PM
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5 - Compared to 1, no worries.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:20 PM
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Because, yes, I am completely offended that you found faults with my auto-translated Chinese.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:20 PM
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Back in print!

By beloved and belated linguist James McCawley, also author of Everything that Linguists have Always Wanted to Know about Logic*        *...but Were Afraid to Ask, The Syntactic Phenomena of English, and Thirty Million Theories of Grammar, among other things.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:32 PM
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I was just about to refer to that book!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:38 PM
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Anyway, to be serious for a moment, forks, I wonder if part of this comes down to an inaccurate conception of how restaurant ordering in this situation works. Maybe it's more like a bar—if you're at the kind of bar that has menus, the menus are unlikely to mention, say, negronis. But if you know they exist, you can certainly order a negroni (if the bar is worth anything). Having the kind of knowledge that McCawley's book can impart, regarding what sort of restaurant you're in, as well as some of what the range of dishes is, might be all you need. Maybe you could even do without the latter.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:40 PM
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I'm very pleased that I beat you to it!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:40 PM
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8: I have that book! We all loved him. U! of! C! U! of! C!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:41 PM
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McCawley also wrote the groundbreaking scatolinguistic work "English Sentences without Overt Grammatical Subjects", attributed to Quang Phuc Dong of the South Hanoi Institute of Technology.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:41 PM
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10 is predicated on the assumption that there isn't really a physically separate Chinese menu, which isn't always the case.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:44 PM
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i never dared ask for "duck webs and fish lips", which they offered in a chinese in lyle street (because fish don't have lips)

the time i ordered stuffed snail in a vietnamese in mare street they said "we never serve that sir" -- this place they also used to serve "pish soup", but that was an actual typo i think


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:50 PM
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I don't doubt it's outrageously swipple and all but this is a fantastic thai restaurant, or at least, it's a fantastic restaurant and it's a thai restaurant.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:52 PM
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... the yelper who claims that its papaya salad caused her tongue to blister must have lived exclusively on milk toast up to that point.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:54 PM
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Back in my NYC days, we used to frequent a couple of places in Chinatown that had neither English-language signs nor menus. Fortunately, my friend Bridget spoke Chinese. Lovely food... and far less expensive than the tourist places.

When the Offspring was small, half the kitchen staff at our local Chinese restaurant would come out to watch him eat with little-kid chopsticks. They would bring him [and us] off-menu treats, as well. And chastise me if I appeared to pick up take-out and hadn't ordered his favourite dish, then make me wait until it was prepared.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 6:56 PM
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17: Ben, people do have allergic reations to papaya - the people who pick them often suffer from rashes. The fruit is implicated in latex-fruit allergies. It contains a class I chitinase, a substance that appears to be a relevant cross-reactive component in foods associated with the latex-fruit syndrome. If said diner had never had raw papaya before, it could possibly be a cause of blisters.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:09 PM
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The person in question claims to have eaten many green papaya salads before. (Including some in Thailand!)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:14 PM
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Is it the same thing that gives mango pickers rashes? (Friends who worked on kibbutzes quickly got sorted into can/can't pick mangoes.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:18 PM
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21: I bet it is, because I have heard the same thing about latex and mangos.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:19 PM
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20: Then the PIQ is probably lying. Or is allergic to something else.

21/23: Probably; they're all part of the latex-fruit thing.

On a tangent: I've got a friend who contracted anthrax at the State Department and developed a bunch of fruit allergies thereafter. Pisses him off something wicked.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:25 PM
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Hmmm... that was meant for 21/22.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:26 PM
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Is the latex-fruit thing the same thing as the avocado thing? I have an avocado-allergic cow-orker. I saw him after he ate some by accident; not good.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:27 PM
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I go to Chinatown Express so often that they recognize me immediately when I walk in the door. I'm proficient with chopsticks, and I obey the basics of Chinese table manners. What else does it take, people???

It seems pretty obvious -- if Mr. Kuznicki wants so badly to eat from the untranslated menu, he could learn to read Chinese.

Also, his four theories seem totally off the mark, in that all but the last put a lot of faith in the notion that Chinese restaurants spend a lot of energy thinking about white people and what they like. SWPL: believing that everyone else is thinking about them, all the time.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:30 PM
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This is one of my standard rants, which I've expressed (in non-rant form) in reviews. IMO, this practice is utter bullshit.

That said, I haven't read the linked article, but plan to (!), so maybe I'll change my mind or something.

But I can't defend this stance tonight, as it's bedtime for kiddies and then troubling Mad Men for grownups!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:52 PM
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The article not linked to in 13, but readily available via Google, is brilliant. I'm only a little bit in, and he's already given the demonstration sentence

(17) *Go fuck you.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:57 PM
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The linked article won't affect your view, because it does little more than note the existence of the practice.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 7:58 PM
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Fuck seven old ladies by midnight, rob.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:00 PM
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I'm pretty sure I could complete an entire course of graduate study in linguistics, culminating in a MA, if not a PhD, in a year, if I were allowed to use only obscene examples.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:07 PM
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26.3 is obviously absurd.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:07 PM
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Isn't the obvious deprecated around here?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:11 PM
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That's not obvious to me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:11 PM
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See, I just went to Tong's where they had English on the menu but that was because 'English people' would sometimes come in. The secret menu WAS the main menu. Of course, Master Tong retired and then things went to hell.

Sad.

max
['There is no sex in the Champagne Room.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:19 PM
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Hmm, both of the posts linked to in the original post don't express surprise that secret Chinese menus exist. They merely ask how the practice of having such menus could be economically rational. In the discussion, the possibility that people might favor their own ethnic group is only mentioned sotto voce ("I hate to bring up the obvious, but... chauvinism"). These questions say more about the authors expectations of human behavior than knowledge of Chinese restaurants.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:33 PM
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The secret menu WAS the main menu

That reminds me of the time I went to this Persian restaurant called Al-Mu'tasim and everyone around me seemed to be eating these fantastic dishes that weren't listed on the English menu. I left and came back with a friend who knew Farsi and he told me that the English menu didn't actually differ from the Farsi menu, it had just been confusingly translated, in such a way that if you could read Farsi you could see what was happening, but if you didn't, everything would remain occulted for you.

We went into the kitchen to find the chef and tell him, but (maybe he had seen us coming?) he was nowhere to be found; in fact, the kitchen seemed completely empty. But then we thought we heard some noises coming from the walk-in, so we investigated. I went in first, and I was surprised to see that when my companion came in after me, he closed the door and raised a cleaver! It turned out that, all along, he was the chef—and I was the daily special!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:34 PM
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38

How embarrassing for you, neb. I hope you never made that mistake again.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:35 PM
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And most of the time, when race is discussed, it is in terms of White entitlement.

If it had been a soul food restaurant, we'd have had grounds for a lawsuit.

Maybe in your fantasy, run by the Federalist Society, court system.

What else does it take, people???

"I can't believe I have done what it normally takes to get what I want, and yet I still don't have what I want."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:37 PM
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36: Doesn't Tyler acknowledge that straight out?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:40 PM
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How embarrassing for you, neb. I hope you never made that mistake again.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:42 PM
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There's no mystery here. Chinese restaurants do the right thing. Authentic Chinese food is disgusting.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:43 PM
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I was recently told by a Chinese colleague that all Western food is basically interchangeable; that McDonald's is not preferable to a nice French restaurant, because any Western food tastes bland and homogeneous.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:46 PM
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Err. The nice French restaurant not preferable to McDonald's.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:47 PM
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I might as well say here that I measure all Chinese restaurants by the broccoli/cabbage ratio. The larger the amount of broccoli to the amount of cabbage in any random dish, the better the restaurant.

The kids are asleep, and Molly is working. I'm going to find something I can watch that neither Molly or the kids would want to watch.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:55 PM
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er, "compared to the amount of cabbage"

Also, our CSA has brought us an undesirable amount of cabbage.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:57 PM
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an undesirable amount of cabbage.

This is not possible in my house. I love cabbage. Stir-fried with rooster sauce, oh yeah. Add an egg on top.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 8:58 PM
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You could make your own sauerkraut, rob.

Some people might think that that gives you an even worse problem, to wit, a surplus of sauerkraut, but just think! If you weren't a vegetarian, you could use that sauerkraut to make choucroute garnie!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:04 PM
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Cabbage is a good excuse to make pupusas.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:06 PM
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Grrr. The DVD of The Black Freighter I got from Amazon does not work. Lets see if the "bonus digital download" works.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:14 PM
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rob, I'm not sure if I ever told you, but it just occurred to me now (since I'm actually in Ohio, though much farther south), but multiple members of my family took classes at your institution, and I think my grandpa even taught there every once in awhile. I went and visited a few years ago.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:21 PM
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Authentic Chinese food is disgusting. amazing.

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:22 PM
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I thought that everybody knew that Chinese restaurants have special menus for their Chinese customers but apparently not.

Why would people know that?

I worked in a Chinese restaurant and it wasn't true there. But we had no Chinese customers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:24 PM
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I'm surprised he didn't mention the other theory involving ethnic bias, namely that Chinese speakers may be more price sensitive as a group, and thus a Chinese-only menu allows the restaurant to engage in simple yet effective price discrimination by charging whitey full price.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:25 PM
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I'll be hobnobbing with sauerkraut makers at the fermentation festival soon. I'm excited.

||
Wondrous 9th inning under way in Texas. Woohoo!
|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:27 PM
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Caliph Al-Mu'tasim is not to be confused with Caliph al-Musta'sim. They were centuries apart. Also, there were three different Berke Khans roughly contemporaneous with al-Musta'sim.


Posted by: X | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:31 PM
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37: It turned out that, all along, he was the chef--and I was the daily special!

'To Serve Neb', Swipple Shock! Monthly, Aug. 2009 issue.

max
['Also this month: True Tales of Internet Love! We Met On Facebook! Our Love Twittered Away! Also: IKEAn't Deal With That!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:36 PM
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Authentic Chinese food is not remotely vegetarian.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:44 PM
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Why would people know that?

From talking to Chinese people? From going to Chinese restaurants and watching other people?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:47 PM
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You can also generally order off-the-menu Korean food at Japanese restaurants. Our world is full of secrets.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:52 PM
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Shit, after a little work, i got the first, short, cheaply produced DVD extra to play properly, and now the second one is crashing.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:52 PM
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37 That reminds me of the time I went to this Persian restaurant called Al-Mu'tasim and everyone around me seemed to be eating these fantastic dishes that weren't listed on the English menu.

Neb, if you want to pull off your story, I think you need to ensure that Al-Mu'tasim is not some jumble of vapid superlatives.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:52 PM
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And now I'm confused about why this is in my English copy of Ficciones but not my Spanish one.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:53 PM
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Bad runaway HTML.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:54 PM
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Can you read Spanish? That might be a stumbling block.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:55 PM
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From talking to Chinese people? From going to Chinese restaurants and watching other people?

Watching other people's food arrive and being familiar enough with every item on the English menu to recognize that these people's food is not on it?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:56 PM
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A veces, un poco. I muddle through if I'm determined enough. I'm not overlooking an entire story just because I'm illiterate, that's for sure.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:58 PM
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Seeing chicken feet at a neighboring table would be a pretty big clue.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 9:59 PM
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66, 68: Yeah, I would think seeing unusual-looking food could be a clue. Especially if the English menu is limited to the standard boring stuff. But "Chinese restaurants have more extensive Chinese-only menus" is one of those things that I've known for so long that I don't know where I learned it. I thought it was common knowledge that people are just born with or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:03 PM
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I learned it from a Chinese person who was very enthused for me to try fish gut soup. Not as good as it sounds.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:09 PM
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Zack Snyder has introduced the idea that the Superman comic existed in the world of Watchmen. I think this is a thematic mistake.

Also, here come some anti-semitic stereotypes.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:10 PM
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37: You jest, sir, but I should note that my entire participation on this blog has been a mere preparation to the anticipated act of chopping up and consuming a shank of nosflow.

Not even kosher! Halal, even!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:14 PM
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If one is so foolish as to go to Google Maps and type "The Strand" with no city or other further identifying information, the bookstore in New York is only the seventh result. Higher priority Strands include a hair salon in Kansas and an apartment building in Florida.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:14 PM
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||

Continuing to live blog Watchmen DVD extras: The fake digital watch ad is great. Do young people understand how cool a digital watch was on a yellow school bus with other boys playing Coleco handheld football games?

No, they do not.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:19 PM
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||

Another good touch for faux archival footage: the vertical line that appears out of nowhere.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:25 PM
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Maybe the line noted in 75 is a stereotype. Maybe you don't really get that line in footage from the late 70s, when it is supposed to occur in the DVD extra I'm watching.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 10:35 PM
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Didn't we used to have a night shift?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 11:36 PM
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They had to be let go.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-09 11:43 PM
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21: Is it the same thing that gives mango pickers rashes? (Friends who worked on kibbutzes quickly got sorted into can/can't pick mangoes.)

Apparently mango has been associated with the latex problem, but it is far more likely that the mango pickers are reacting to the urushiol (active ingredient in poison ivy etc.) that is found in the peel of mangoes. Very low concentration in the flesh itself, but contamination during preparation or residual peel can lead to mouth/lip rashes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 12:05 AM
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Certainly several of the Chinese restaurants I used to go to in Glasgow had Chinese-language-only menus. There was usually a specials board with a list of ten or twenty dishes that weren't on the English menu. The bulk of the rest of the Chinese language menu was the same though, apparently.

At one time I had a Chinese speaking -- Scottish of Chinese extraction -- flatmate whose parents ran a Chinese restaurant, so if we went out she'd sometimes translate.

One of my shady school friends used to live above one of those restaurants and got to know the cooks. He'd usually order off the Chinese menu just by asking the guys what he specials of the day (on the menu the Cantonese speaking customers were using). If you weren't a regular or didn't know people, they usually just pushed you towards the English menu.

In Oxford I've been to restaurants for dim sum with Chinese work colleages [I used to work with a group of TCM pharmacologists] and the stuff that arrived was pretty great, and sometimes exotic. However, I gathered from them that the place we were in largely had exactly the same things on the Chinese and English dim sum menus.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 12:12 AM
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Obviously mango farms should be thoroughly doused in Tecnu.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 12:18 AM
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I'm surprised he didn't mention the other theory involving ethnic bias, namely that Chinese speakers may be more price sensitive as a group, and thus a Chinese-only menu allows the restaurant to engage in simple yet effective price discrimination by charging whitey full price.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 1:38 AM
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Whups.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 1:41 AM
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I once made the mistake of eating an entire kilo of baby mangoes, skin and all. you can eat these fruits with the skins on, this particular type, and I didn't realize they were mangoes. there are lots of weird fruits here, after all, ad they tasted different. my lips tingled a little after the first one, but I put some cortisone cream around my mouth, waited a day, and all was well. so I went on and finished them. I subsequently got the worst rashes of my life, all through my crotch and even in my armpits where I had sweat out the deadly urushiol. it looked like there was a fire burning in my ass. so very, very unpleasant. oral steroids to the rescue, but jeez.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 4:43 AM
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What *can* you eat an entire kilo of and be untroubled?

(I once ate a family-sized bag of marshmallows while watching TV of an evening by myself. Clue to world: never do this.)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:21 AM
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68: Rory and I went out for dim sum once with my boss and his nephew. My boss thought he'd freak the kids out by npointing out the cart of chicken feet. Rory, of course, decided to engage him I a game of chicken-feet-chicken, ultimately flagging down a cart and ordering a plate full. The nephew (an autistic kid with a foot fetish that, we learned doesn't extend to poultry) looked on in horror. I forced myself to try, but bleh. Rory and my boss, however, devoured the rest


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:50 AM
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Your kid is awesome, Di.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 7:20 AM
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Morning update on a theme no one else picked up on: The bit about the Superman comic existing in the world of Watchmen was not added for the movie; it is in the comic as well.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 8:28 AM
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Has no one tried the "there's nothing 'Chinese' about Chinese food, given the political and ethnic diversity of the present territory of China" tack yet? Well, consider that particular glass bead played. Also something about the Uighurs. And the noodle house gunfight in Hard-Boiled, because Chow Yun Fat is The Man.

As for Watchmen, it's hard to top the rude vitality of comic books, but the cynical vulgarity of movies gives it the old college try every now and then. Christ, the guy playing Ozymandias was weak. They should have at least shelled out the coin for a real star.

OT: Can anyone recommend a decent source about solar sails and sailing?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 8:55 AM
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All I know is a million Arthur C. Clarke stories from the fifties.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:09 AM
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Didn't we used to have a night shift?

Partly on hiatus on account of having recently moved and not having home internet access yet.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:50 AM
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I, of course, was not at all aware of this separate-menu thing, although it doesn't surprise me. I suspect the way one becomes aware of it is through living in places where there are significant numbers of Chinese people.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:51 AM
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Teo's the night shift foreman. We're just waiting for him to give the go-ahead to get back to it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:56 AM
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94

You have my blessing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:56 AM
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95

And speaking of blessings, holy shit are there ever a lot of Jews in Highland Park. I mean, I knew there would be, but wow. Around the corner from my apartment there are two Judaica shops across the street from each other. About a third of the restaurants I see advertise themselves as "Glatt Kosher" in their windows. I've never lived anywhere remotely this Jewish before. Should be an interesting experience.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:59 AM
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93-4: Great green shoots of recovery, Batman!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 10:00 AM
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95: Yes, apparently it has had an eruv since 1978. Here is a list of them (unsurprisingly, Squirrel Hill in P'burgh--and I suspect Moby Hick--is covered). Given the recent healthcare bloviation from John Mackey, maybe this should replace Whole Foods in Ogged's housing search criteria.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 10:35 AM
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Jews are not necessarily bad people Teo. You just have to keep your eyes open.


Posted by: x | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 10:42 AM
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85: What *can* you eat an entire kilo of and be untroubled?

Sure, but what alameida describes is the equivalent of chopping up some poison ivy leaves and stems and putting it in your salad. Urushiol is a bitch, since it is immiscible in water and works by binding with proteins to trigger an autoimmune response. Once bound, simple washing does nothing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 10:53 AM
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(unsurprisingly, Squirrel Hill in P'burgh--and I suspect Moby Hick--is covered)

I love that you can check the borders online, as well as finding the phone number for the eruv status hotline. I've never ever noticed the boundary stuff! I'll have to look for it next time I'm visiting my mother.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 10:55 AM
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You can eat an entire kilo of spinach or cantaloupe and be untroubled.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 10:56 AM
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What *can* you eat an entire kilo of and be untroubled?

Crayons.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:01 AM
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103

Semen.


Posted by: Rod Stewart | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:04 AM
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104

Potatoes, too. (Well, you might gain weight, but you're not gong to get sick - or at least, I won't.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:05 AM
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105

Cilantro, maybe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:12 AM
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Hard-boiled eggs.


Posted by: Luke | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:15 AM
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I'll bet I could eat a kilo of fried shrimp.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:16 AM
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A kilo of cilantro would give you the green runs for a week. I'm certain enough of this not to try the experiment.

Oatmeal. provided you ate it slowly.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:19 AM
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What *can* you eat an entire kilo of and be untroubled?

Ask the folks at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub.

I've eaten a kilo of lobster and been blissfully untroubled.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:21 AM
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I'm not one to shy away from dyed runs.

Fried shrimp, defiitely.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:21 AM
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Lentil soup.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:22 AM
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Water!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:23 AM
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112: To wash down all that cilantro.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:36 AM
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Watermelon.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:41 AM
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||
I've paid good money to feel this way.
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:42 AM
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Congee.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:44 AM
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Mmm, congee.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:49 AM
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Pop-tarts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:52 AM
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Heirloom tomatoes.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:57 AM
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119: In particular, Mr. Stripey.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:59 AM
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Eating a kilo of heirloom tomatoes will make your lips and mouth burn from the acid.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 2:02 PM
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I am skeptical of that claim.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 2:21 PM
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I just went and weighed out a kilo of the tomatoes we bought at the farmer's market today. It would be a lot of tomato salad, yes, but yeah, I think I could eat that for dinner without ill effect. Maybe I'm wrong, though!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 2:22 PM
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Maybe I'm wrong, though!

Only your commitment to empiricism can supply an answer.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 2:28 PM
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I ate a kilo of Chinese menus once... but that was before they told me that Chinese menus are made of WHITE PEOPLE!

max
['Urp. Tasty tho.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 3:23 PM
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I can eat 25 eggs


Posted by: semi-cool hand luke | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 4:25 PM
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I think I could eat a kilo of chocolate chip cookies in one sitting, and am willing to try.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 4:41 PM
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ok mineshaft, which of the following is correct?

(n − 1)th

(n − 1)st

or

(nth − 1)

One formulation is mine, one is Molly's, and one is in the text she is editing.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:13 PM
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"item [or whatever] n-1".

Otherwise, the first.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:18 PM
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It could not possibly be the third unless you are referring to a sequence of numbers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:19 PM
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why is it superscripted? that is always ugly

i would go with (a): b is correct only if n = 2 and c would only be right if you said "nth - 1th" (or ("nth - 1st")


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:19 PM
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also: oneth is a word* you don't get to say often enough, given that it is sometimes correct (as here)

*or bit of a word


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:20 PM
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Yeah, the first one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:25 PM
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b is correct only if n = 2

Or if n is expressible as 2+10m for integral m not expressible as 1+10p.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:32 PM
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So, Molly is right, the author is close, and I am way off base.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 5:45 PM
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Really? The third was you? Oh, rob.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:05 PM
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Yeah, there's a reason that I edit stuff and Rob doesn't. Conversely, I would really suck at teaching bioethics, so there's that. Thanks for the superscript suggestion, tierce. I do normally change that with numbers. Since the only ordinals in this book have been letters, unsuperscripting did not even occur to me. I might have to look that up and go back and change things.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:18 PM
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(n-1)st.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:23 PM
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Hmm. It's hard to tell because of all the random crap that comes up, but it looks like Google might prefer (n-1)th. I swear I hear people say "n minus first" all the time to mean this, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:27 PM
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I agree with essear. I've only ever heard people say "st".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:35 PM
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I swear I hear people say "n minus first"

That would be (n-1st).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:37 PM
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I've seen and heard both.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:39 PM
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Both the sane ones. Not nth less one.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:40 PM
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Pennth.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 6:45 PM
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yeah, I tried to google, but it wasn't recognizing the hyphen at all, or the parentheses (that is, it was just as happy to return results with n1th or n1st, which led to a lot of N 1st St addresses). I just tried pasting in a minus sign from MS word, and even with quote marks, google still didn't notice or care.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 7:12 PM
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Becks, you were in Chinaese Restaurant?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 7:24 PM
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122: The claim in 121 is grounded in personal experience.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:24 PM
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Anecdotal. You have to take a representative sample of 99 other people before anyone will believe you. It may just be a personal problem.


Posted by: x | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 9:46 PM
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I might say "n minus first", but that's because "n minus oneth" sounds dumb. "(n-1)th" is, however, obviously correct, in writing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-09 11:56 PM
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(nth - 1) correctly indexes the item, so I don't see what the problem is.

I went to a chinese restaurant in Boston with a native chinese speaking friend once and asked him about all the specials on the chinese language menu. My favorite was named something idiomatic that (when not referring to this dish) translated roughly to "stupid white guy", but he wouldn't let me order it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 1:53 AM
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But you could read it as the nth term minus one, as opposed to the (n-1)th term, so it is confusing at best,


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 2:29 AM
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as are dodgy commas.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 2:33 AM
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Algebra isn't really designed to be spoken, so I don't think you should adapt its conventions by back-formation from the way it ends up being said. The problem with "st" is the one nosflow pins down: which is that it implies the cardinal of the ordinal ends in a one, which undermines the open-ended counting function of n. It's "th" because n must be assumed to be able to take any value. But yes, probably everyone except me would *say* the "Enn minus first".


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 5:21 AM
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Any integral value, obviously.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 5:23 AM
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(nth - 1) correctly indexes the item

No it doesn't! Suppose the items are chairs. "nth - 1" refers to a particular chair, minus one.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 10:34 AM
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134, 153, 155, maybe others: insert canned rant about how you can't answer language questions through logic but only through looking at how people speak and write.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 10:51 AM
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134 is nitpicking about 131, strictly speaking.

If you were dealing with a sequence of numbers, "nth - 1" would at best be ambiguous.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 10:58 AM
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looking at how people speak and write.

In this case, it is spoken and written differently.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-16-09 11:28 AM
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Worth remembering if you ever try learning Cantonese. I went into a haberdashery in Hong Kong and, seeking Chinese tunic fasteners asked "Lei yau mo fa lau"?

The shopkeeper's face reddened and I found myself being bundled out of the store at high speed by my companion.

"What have I done, what have I said?" I asked.

I had asked him if he had syphilis. It sounds almost exactly the same except for a very slight, but very significant, tonal difference in the word 'fa lau'.

Don't say you haven't been warned.....


Posted by: Herr Torquewrench | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:17 AM
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People think just because they know the word for "tunic fasteners" they know Chinese fluently, but they've barely scratched the surface.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:19 AM
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159: damn silly of the shopkeeper to get offended. Surely it was perfectly obvious what you wanted. It's like the old joke about "Waiter, do you have frog's legs? No, it's just the way I walk".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:54 AM
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Or "Merci, beau cul" heard for "merci beaucoup".


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 10:29 AM
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Drifting back in here, I did read the linked articles, and neb was right, they don't really affect my position.

Part of it, I think, comes from finding the idea of ordering off-menu items intolerably precious. While I appreciate neb's bar menu analo similar-yet-distinct situation, something about the idea is fundamentally opposed to my conception of restaurant dining*. I realize that it's my idiosyncratioc take, but it's mine, so I'm keeping it.

Obviously, the secret Chinese menu isn't the same - there's an actual menu - but it's the same tick. The idea that you need an "in" to be fed well is pretty opposed to the concept of hospitality. "Welcome to my business, where I will take your money in exchange for shit food that I would never offer to someone with whom I have an affinity."

I appreciate jms' take, except that I live in a place with a vanishingly small Chinese population. There's probably not a single restaurant in Pittsburgh that gets more business from Chinese & Chinese-Americans than from non-Chinese. As such, I have trouble buying the "they're just not that into you" argument. They're into me enough that they wouldn't be in business without me; I think that means that my custom should matter to them.

In practice, btw, this means that we simply don't eat much Chinese food, because all the Chinese restaurants evidently take pride in serving us unutterable shit.

* I'm not completely doctrinaire on this - certainly diet-restricted people should do whatever is necessary, and the "Five Easy Pieces" example doesn't bug me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 10:53 AM
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You're probably better off not buying tunic fasteners from syphilitics anyway.


Posted by: x | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 10:53 AM
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Just to expand a bit on the off-menu ordering thing:

To me, any kind of serious restaurant is an endeavor of a chef offering her best to the customers. There are all sorts of shadings to that, but that's the essence. I have great respect for "no substitutions" menus - if the chef wanted to serve potatoes with the steak, she would have made that the dish.

Ordering something not on the menu* is either telling the chef you don't give a shit about her as a creator or trying to "challenge" her. Asking the chef to come up with something just for you is unbearably pretentious - aren't you just the specialest snowflake?

A big exception to all that is diner-type places, which have broad menus and low ambitions. Omelette X may not be on the menu, but it's surely an omission of paper space, not of principle. Even at a fancier place, I can handle a simplified request - "could I just have a plain steak, no sauce?" - as something that's no trouble for the kitchen and doesn't try to put the customer in a position of arrogating control to himself.

An expatriate going into a restaurant of his homeland in search of homey meal X is also understandable, and shades into the secret Chinese menu example. I probably wouldn't mind the secret Chinese menu at all if it were simply a matter of specific foods (tripe, chicken feet) that Americans almost surely won't eat, but it's not - it's an entirely different cuisine.

* former menu items are an exception: "I was here before and I had X, and it was wonderful; could you ask the chef whether...?"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:08 AM
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any kind of serious restaurant

Isn't part of the problem that there are very few Chinese restaurants in this country that fall into that category? To me, they are more like diners or pizzerias (before pizza went upscale), not "fine dining" where there is actually a chef-directed menu.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:14 AM
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Further to 166: I imagine a lot of Chinese restaurants are copy-catting some other successful Chinese restaurant opened by some friend or relative elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure this also happens in a lot of what passes for Mexican restaurants in the US, because many of them have identical menus—I order Vegetarian #5 at all of them, even though they're not formally chains.

Which is all to say, they may not think that people in the US might want anything other than Standard Americanized Chinese Food.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:20 AM
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Ah, I just realized that 165 is a complaint distinct of the special menu situation. Never mind, then. Yay, reading comprehension.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:21 AM
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I want you to hold the General Tso's chicken between your legs.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:26 AM
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I'm pretty sure this also happens in a lot of what passes for Mexican restaurants in the US, because many of them have identical menus--I order Vegetarian #5 at all of them, even though they're not formally chains.

This must be much more common on the East Coast. While in CA Mexican restaurants of a certain sort can generally be expected to have all the same things on the menu, I've never actually seen an identical menu and generally there are a lot of differences in what you're actually served. Also, apparently we suck at catering to vegetarians, because I've never seen such an option in most of the mom'n'pop type restaurants (which I think of as analogous to the Chinese restaurants I'm familiar with).

We also have a number of more upscale, chef-driven Mexican places and also different varieties of Americanized Mexican food. I've not really noticed that on the East Coast (though I'm jealous of your Puerto Rican, Honduran, Cuban, etc restaurants to add balance to the Latin flavor). I'm partial to Californian Mexican, myself. Black beans, rice, and avocado in everything!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:31 AM
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163: In practice, btw, this means that we simply don't eat much Chinese food, because all the Chinese restaurants evidently take pride in serving us unutterable shit.

I was trying to avoid saying this, but yes, I eat very little Chinese food because it's, well, kind of not very good. A large number of other factors come into play there, though ... and on preview I see that a couple of them have been mentioned in 166 and 167.

I do live in a place in which there are largish numbers of, in this case Korean people. And it's clear in many Korean restaurants that the majority of the clientele are Korean. Are there secret menus there? Maybe. Does it bother me very much? Not really. The restaurants are social spaces for people who are not of my own ethnicity. Carry on, then; it's not like my permission is needed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:38 AM
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Also, apparently we suck at catering to vegetarians

Almost every place sucks at catering to vegetarians. It's just a thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:48 AM
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I order Vegetarian #5 at all of them, even though they're not formally chains

Practically every Mexican restaurant in this area has a lunch special called the Speedy Gonzalez, except the one around the corner from my office, where it's called the Racey Rodriguez.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:57 AM
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Almost every place sucks at catering to vegetarians. It's just a thing.

I think that's less the case in Northern California in general, with the exception of many Mexican restaurants.

Though, at a Mexican restaurant, there is always the chile relleno. Mm. (Though it may well be cooked in lard, I suppose.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 12:14 PM
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it's clear in many Korean restaurants that the majority of the clientele are Korean. Are there secret menus there?

IME, the less Westernized the restaurant, the more likely that they cook off-the-menu dishes for their Korean customers. But also IME, if the restaurant serves off-the-menu dishes at all, then all it takes to be offered them is regular patronage, some knowledge of and interest in Korean cuisine and a willingness to learn more, and a polite insistence that yes, you really would like to have what they're having.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 12:30 PM
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175: P., if you ever come up here, we can go to one of these places. Otherwise, I don't have much of a taste for Korean food, unfortunately; the vegetarianism gets in the way, to be honest.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 1:09 PM
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Vegetarians are lucky. Bibimbap is very vegetarian friendly and it's the world's most perfect food. But it's true that old school Korean cuisine is heavy on the meats.

(I'd like to go to one of those places. A little less likely these days, now that the relatives who lived there have left DC.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:10 PM
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177.2: Oh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:21 PM
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I like ordering Bibimbap simply because it is such a pleasing word to say aloud.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:23 PM
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While in CA Mexican restaurants of a certain sort can generally be expected to have all the same things on the menu

Which is bullshit, by the way!

It is very worthwhile to, for instance, read Steve Sando's blog for when he posts about the meals he has in Mexico, all of which feature exclusively dishes you would probably have to have access to the secret spanish menu at the secret not-for-honkies mexican restaurants to get here.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:33 PM
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Oh, I'm well aware that Mexican restaurants are not exactly representative of the full spectrum of actual Mexican cooking. I do occasionally read Sando's blog, but even though I like his recipes and his products I sometimes have a hard time with the tone. I bet he'd be delightful to meet, though.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:39 PM
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I just read it for the pictures.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:40 PM
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Well, they are enticing.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:41 PM
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181: sure, but california "mexican" restaurants are no more mexican than california "chinese" restaurants are chinese. Less, even, in the bay area.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:55 PM
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not that texas is any different that way.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 2:56 PM
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Haven't read the whole thread, so maybe someone's already mentioned that the "secret" menu at Chinese places usually isn't secret at all. It's posted on the walls in plain sight. If you can't read Chinese though, that's your problem.

Also, regarding quality of Chinese food in the US, many many Chinese restaurants are run by immigrants who were anything but chefs or restauranteurs in China (or, frequently, particularly outside the big coastal cities, Vietnam). But running a restaurant is a pretty well established way to make decent money over here and also gainfully employ a lot of family and friends. So they don't dream of creating grand dishes or offering sumptious hospitality to satisfy JRoth's Idea of the Restaurant, they just want/need to make a living by following an established formula that has worked for many others before them.

And, in China, most restaurants don't actually have a printed menu. Patrons go in and ask for dishes and if the restaurant has the right ingredients, they'll make it. There's also a lot of fussing over details like how spicy/sweet/oily to make particular dishes, or whether to add garlic or not, or the like (most common dishes have regional variations and people are partial to their region's version). Ordering can take quite a while (usually one person orders for everyone and everyone shares everything. It's not unusual for the ordering process to take 15 or 20 minutes).

Americans aren't used to such menu negotiations, so most Chinese restaurants here go for a printed menu with dishes known to be generally acceptable to whiteys and that are relatively easy to translate. Often the waitstaff's English isn't fluent enough to do the same kind of negotiating over dishes as happens in Chinese. Having a standardized whitey menu with numbers cuts down on mistakes and translation problems. And restaurants in China do the same kind of rule-of-thumb calibrations towards classes of customers as happens here; a Shanghainese dude ordering a dish in a Sichuan restaurant is going to get a less spicy version of it than a native Sichuan person, even if the Shanghainese dude insists that he loves spicy food.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:01 PM
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185: Actually, Tex-Mex is very clearly and closely related to the "authentic" cuisine of northern Mexico. Not that you can get authentic Tex-Mex in Houston though.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:05 PM
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Tex-Mex is very clearly and closely related to the "authentic" cuisine of northern Mexico.Not that you can get authentic Tex-Mex in Houston though.

Fair enough, but again extremely regional.

Part of the reason that a "country X" restaurant is often a weird idea.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:09 PM
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184: Uh, I'm not sure I claimed otherwise? Personally, I find the whole quest for authenticity to be overdone. I like California Mexican food.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:14 PM
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Personally, I find the whole quest for authenticity to be overdone.

Word.

Part of it is the same thing that fuels the barbecue wars and other similar disputes. "That's not real barbecue!" Whatever. It's still damn tasty.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:17 PM
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190: I am happy to sample all and any barbecue, and declare it all to be real.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:20 PM
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190: Part of it is the same thing that fuels the barbecue wars and other similar disputes and disparagement of Pop-Tarts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:21 PM
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Actually, Pop Tarts very clearly and closely related to the "authentic" cuisine of northern Kellogia.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:25 PM
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I have no idea why I italicized 193. Kellogians hate Italians.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:26 PM
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I am happy to sample all and any barbecue, and declare it all to be real.

But the Platonic ideal of barbecue is the best kind!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:30 PM
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Non-fattening!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:31 PM
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(): This must be much more common on the East Coast. While in CA Mexican restaurants of a certain sort can generally be expected to have all the same things on the menu, I've never actually seen an identical menu and generally there are a lot of differences in what you're actually served. Also, apparently we suck at catering to vegetarians, because I've never seen such an option in most of the mom'n'pop type restaurants (which I think of as analogous to the Chinese restaurants I'm familiar with).

I totally agree with both parts. The Chinese food here is shockingly bad. So, actually, is all the food, excepting the take-out pizza which is decent/average. I also agree with everything M/tch said.

Tex-Mex (and CA-Mex & NM-Mex) are all relatives of the stuff across the border, and they don't differ so much from each other, as they differ from whateverthehellthatstuffis they have here. All of the border cuisines are very different from the Mex-Mex of non-Northern Mexico, which you would expect if people didn't tend to treat of Mexico as a giant amorphous blob.

max
['Everybody likes a formula.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:34 PM
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190: Part of it is the same thing that fuels the barbecue wars and other similar disputes. "That's not real barbecue!" Whatever. It's still damn tasty.

This part I slightly disagree with; I tend to be interested, as a historical matter, in that sort of thing because then I can discover which parts to cut out to make things better.

max
['That's different from the hipster aspect, I think.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:38 PM
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I find the whole quest for authenticity to be overdone.

I agree with this in principle, but I have to admit, I hate 95% of the Southern food I've had that was cooked by/for yankees.


Posted by: piminnowcheez | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:45 PM
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199: I think that's acceptable. Not liking something simply because you don't like it is different than not liking something on the principle that it isn't authentic.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 3:48 PM
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186: You were in China, M/tch?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 4:06 PM
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Part of it is the same thing that fuels the barbecue wars and other similar disputes. "That's not real barbecue!" Whatever. It's still damn tasty.

In principle I'm fine with the idea that authenticity (esp. wrt food) is bunk. But as a practical matter, the inauthentic stuff - and BBQ is an especially egregious case - tends to be sweeter, less interesting, and overcooked. And the crappy, inauthentic food drives out the good stuff (cf. Chinese food in America).

If you go far enough back, "authentic" recipes for baked goods, sweet and savory alike, tend to be heavy and dry. But the modern adulterations tend to be awful in another direction. Top notch cornbread or corn muffins can make you weep with joy, but the typical product* is little more than filler. Targeting authenticity is usually a good heuristic for getting the good stuff, even if what makes it good isn't the authenticity as such.

* Both Jiffy-style mixes and typical restaurant fare


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 7:16 PM
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maybe someone's already mentioned that the "secret" menu at Chinese places usually isn't secret at all. It's posted on the walls in plain sight.

For the record, this is absolutely not the case in Pittsburgh - I can think of 2 restaurants where this is (kind of) the case, and I've been to most of the sit down Chinese places in the city and near suburbs. Also not true in suburban NJ or Miami.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 7:19 PM
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A Chinese person once told me that Orient Kitchen on Baum was the best local Chinese restaurant. Since it is identical to every other local Chinese restaurant except for having a couple duck dishes, I must assume that it has a better secret Chinese menu for Chinese people than other local Chinese restaurants.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 7:27 PM
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There's no such thing as authenticity. Everybody knows that. It's like a puff of air, a whiff of smoke. A phantasm! Really, authenticity, pbui. Plus, it's not even necessarily good.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 7:36 PM
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Chinese food in America

Generalization, easterner! We don't have as much Chinese food here as you might expect (Thai food largely having displaced it), but it ranges wide in style and quality. Also, I think Myotch gets it right in 186, to which I'd add that in Chinese restaurants "what's on the menu," when there's a menu, corresponds very differently to "what the kitchen can make for you" than in Western- (European-) style restaurants. One of the first things we learned in the relevant chapter in Chinese class was "what do you have that's fresh?" Once you've found that out, ask them to make something with that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 7:37 PM
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So they don't dream of creating grand dishes or offering sumptious hospitality to satisfy JRoth's Idea of the Restaurant, they just want/need to make a living by following an established formula that has worked for many others before them.

By this logic, it would also be impossible to find an Italian restaurant offering food other than spaghetti and meatballs.

I know that there's a whole process and history there (and a movie). But Chinese food has a longer history in America than Italian and, while assimilation took longer, has clearly set in. Meanwhile, a number of sources have suggested (and it maps onto my experience) that Chinese food in America has grown worse since the 70s, the only cuisine of which that could be said.

I understand why the cheap takeout place on the corner offers crummy Chinese-American food; it's the same reason as the crummy Mexican place across the street and the mediocre pizzeria down the block. But, in every mid-size city in the country, you can find authentic and good Italian and Mexican food. Chinese, not so much. Unless, of course, you order off the secret menu.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:02 PM
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A Chinese person once told me that Orient Kitchen on Baum was the best local Chinese restaurant.

I've heard the same.

Tasty on Highland, across from Buffalo Blues, has a complete Taiwanese (Hong Kong? It's been months) menu, in English, in the window beside the crummy Chinese-American one. It's good! A Chinese-American friend said, "Oh, that's total homecooking."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:05 PM
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First para of 207 in ital, of course.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:05 PM
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208: I go to P.F. Chang's. It doesn't seem very authentic, but it is very close to Target and Lowe's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:06 PM
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I know I've mentioned The Fortune Cookie Chronicles here before, but it has a pitch-perfect journalistic/sociological explanation for many of the Chinese restaurant phenomena that are being discussed in this thread. Plus it's by an author whose name I used to think was made up: Jennifer 8. Lee.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:31 PM
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I have a friend who is a free-lance journalist with a bit of a specialization in China and Chinese immigration stories. He explained to me that a lot of the Chinese immigrants still arrive in the cities with big Chinatowns, but then the workers are shipped out to weird small towns to staff shitty Chinese restaurants. The workers live in overcrowded apartments and work like crazy for a couple of years. I doubt they stay in one place for very long. Apparently there's a Chinese-language jobs exchange board in the NYC Chinatown, so probably people come in and out as one contract expires or gets too onerous. These workers are paying off their snakeheads, and it's very unlikely that they really know about or are interested in cooking.

This friend keeps recommending restaurants I should visit, but I can never remember the names out of context, and his directions are all of the "you know that big bank a block south of the retirement home garden?" variety.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:41 PM
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Apparently there's a Chinese-language jobs exchange board in the NYC Chinatown,

I once took a fascinating walking tour of NYC Chinatown given by a Chinese-American grad student who was way into labor history and such. She took us into what she said might have once been some kind of bootlegger's tunnel -- you enter it from Doyers St. and exit on the Bowery. You go down a flight or two of stairs into a corridor that's flanked by employment agencies at one end and herbal medicine shops at the other. The employment agencies have whiteboards with the names of Eastern seaboard cities, then the specific jobs in Chinese and the weekly wage, which IIRC was usually around $300 or $400. Our guide said these jobs are why the Chinatown bus services originally started and why they ran at such odd hours, taking people to restaurant jobs in Boston.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 8:58 PM
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Damn, Jackmormon. All my ancestors had to do to establish themselves in America was escape their indentures and then murder a handful Indians to steal their land -- 300 years ago. You've just made eating at a Chinese restaurant sound less moral than wearing fur.

What about Thai restaurants? Korean? Indian? Lebanese? Will I have to learn to cook for myself?


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:04 PM
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Today I encountered more of the culinary I mentioned in 43/44. I was talking to two Chinese colleagues and mentioned that New Haven has much better food than Princeton. They both were surprised. "But there's no good Chinese food in or near New Haven!" "True, but everything else..." "Everything else is less important!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:08 PM
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Woo, missing words. Culinary myopia. TYping difficult.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:08 PM
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it's very unlikely that they really know about or are interested in cooking.

Maybe, but the same might have been said about Mexican immigrants, who as a group have a very good reputation in the US restaurant business.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:32 PM
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208: I go to P.F. Chang's. It doesn't seem very authentic, but it is very close to Target and Lowe's.

Even I go there!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:41 PM
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Despite posting 53, I did know everything in 212.

It's hard to believe the kitchens of your average Indian or Mexican place is full of culinariophiles, any more than the average Chinese place, though.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 9:44 PM
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Okay, really, even I can occasionally follow a recipe and turn out something worthy of my dog. Who's actually picky, like he prefers his steak rarer than I feel safe eating it -- and he'll go hungry or even eat KIBBLE instead of sullying his palate with overdone cowflesh. So what exactly is "culinary excellence?"

My main problem with Chinese food is too often they use too much damn onion in damn near everything; I like onion, I'll even eat one as most folks eat an apple, but I'd rather have more broccoli or tofu or something, or maybe just a smaller portion not padded out. But I've had Chinese food hundreds of times in several dozen restaurants in at least half a dozen cities (San Francisco, Chicago, Louisville, Baltimore and Boston come immediately to mind), and it seems like "too damn much onion" is an essential part of Chinese cuisine in the U.S.A. Maybe the "snakeheads" are in cahoots with the onion farmers?



Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:00 PM
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This "too much onion" complaint makes no sense to me, though I'll admit that I've had Chinese food in fewer cities.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:03 PM
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Onions are how some people get back to their roots.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:06 PM
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Onion's efficacy as a root-route is overhyped.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:07 PM
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Y'mean 2/3 onion -- more onion than snow peas, broccoli, chicken, or anything else -- ain't too much? That's normal?


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:07 PM
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San Francisco, Chicago, Louisville, Baltimore and Boston come immediately to mind

I feel fairly confident saying that at least two of those cities have at best mediocre Chinese restaurants.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:08 PM
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When you want a cheap thrill try an onion juice and Pepsi enema.


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:08 PM
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Though I've had damned good home-cooked Chinese food in Louisville. Sigh. Où est la cuisine chinoise d'antan ?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:10 PM
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Seriously, can every Chinese restaurant in the Baltimore area suck? Or even the dozen or so I went to during the 36 years I lived there? Or maybe it's just that Chinese food (at least the "Chinese" food those who don't read Chinese or speak any Chinese language get) uses a LOT of onion?


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:22 PM
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Onions are cheap, dude.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-17-09 11:25 PM
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I go to P.F. Chang's. It doesn't seem very authentic

What tipped you off? Was it the "Great Wall of Chocolate"?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:16 AM
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Meeting a friend for dinner in the heart of London, one of the possible choices was 'authentic English food.' No thanks, and no, I do not want to see the secret menu.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:21 AM
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re: 231

Hah. Of course proper English food done really well is great, but yeah, that menu choice would give me second thoughts, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:25 AM
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"Local speciality" is just another way of saying "we have failed, over the course of the last millennium or so, to persuade anyone outside our extended family or tribe to actually eat this stuff".

231: the secret menu would be in English, but incomprehensible English, videlicet:
Toad in the Hole
Lobscouse
Burgoo
Welsh Rabbit
Spotted Dick
Eton Mess


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:00 AM
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Oxford John.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:08 AM
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re: 233

And, staying within the UK:

Cullen Skink
Neeps and Tatties
Stovies

etc


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:09 AM
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Secret menus are something I learned about from white people, who seem to be endlessly fascinated by the concept. I suppose people in my family have ordered off menu in Chinese, but I've never seen anyone use an existing, or at least printed, secret menu. But then, in those cases I've never really seen the English menu. I've been to some places where if there's an English menu, it's a secret.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:58 AM
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re: 236

As I mentioned above, several of the restaurants I used to go to in Glasgow had prominently displayed menus in English and in Chinese. Usually the latter had much of the same stuff on it, but also several things that were different, and the specials of the day were usually entirely different.*

* I'm taking my Cantonese speaking friend's word for this, although the fact that the price was different on the specials board was plain for all to see.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 4:44 AM
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230: This reminds me that, on an ugly council estate in one of the newer-build reaches of Shrewsbury, not so far from where my dad lives, there's a Chinese takeaway called -- with admirable cheek -- "New Great Wall of China".

233/35: Black pudding...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 5:21 AM
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Well, black pudding is a fairly descriptive name for something that is a) a pudding and b) black. Cullen Skink, on the other hand, sounds like some sort of obscure lizard-based dish. First, catch your skink.
The US is relatively straightforward by comparison, except that Grape Nuts contain neither grapes nor nuts.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 6:20 AM
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"Pigs in a blanket" is more straightforward than "toad in a hole". At least pigs are the species that the meat in the dish consists of.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 6:40 AM
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Grape Nuts contain neither grapes nor nuts

My favorite example of this is the no longer available Jack Daniels Hard Cola, which contained neither Jack Daniels nor cola, but was instead flavored beer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 6:52 AM
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Did you ever drink JD Hard Cola? I assumed it (and Smirnoff Ice, etc.) were created not for drinking but to get around the ban on advertising hard liquor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:18 AM
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I did not. The flavored malt drinks do not appeal.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:28 AM
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I hadn't either. I'm curious enough to ask, not to drink one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:31 AM
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241: I believe you mean "flavored malt beverage". That's not real barbecue beer!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:32 AM
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I did, however, try one of these (the purple one), and it was absolutely disgusting.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:49 AM
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But as a practical matter, the inauthentic stuff - and BBQ is an especially egregious case - tends to be sweeter, less interesting, and overcooked.

Actually when I brought up barbecue wars, I was thinking of the "Texas/Kansas City/North Carolina/etc barbec/que is the REAL barbecue! THe rest is crap!" stuff, not high quality vs. low quality. I agree completely with the above statement though.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:58 AM
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From the link in 246 ("Tastes like grape soda with a little wine or red bean flavoring used in some Asian dishes.") I am having a hard time imagining what the intended flavor was like. Let alone the actual result.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 7:59 AM
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Targeting authenticity is usually a good heuristic for getting the good stuff, even if what makes it good isn't the authenticity as such.

I agree with this too

Part of it, I think, comes from finding the idea of ordering off-menu items intolerably precious. While I appreciate neb's bar menu analo similar-yet-distinct situation, something about the idea is fundamentally opposed to my conception of restaurant dining

I was mainly trying to say above that, for Chinese, there's nothing precious about it, it's just the way restaurants work.

But, in every mid-size city in the country, you can find authentic and good Italian and Mexican food. Chinese, not so much. Unless, of course, you order off the secret menu.

I would wager they've found that it's not worth the trouble and cost because there aren't enough people who both say they want real Chinese food and thean also actually do want real Chinese food. I don't think Big Chinese is actually trying to personally slight you. And remember, it's hard for restaurant staff to tell just from looking at you that you're "one of the good ones" (all whiteys pretty much look alike).


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:05 AM
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The equivalent product here is called Red Bull. It tastes like medicine and soda (selzer). People who really, really hate their own brain cells mix it with vodka, which doesn't help the flavour.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:05 AM
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250: We too are cursed with Red Bull on this side of the Atlantic. Do you have the execrable "Red Bull gives you wings!" commercials over there too?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:11 AM
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In my basement sits a a six-pack or so of Zima from an after tennis match party where my wife ended up with the leftover booze. They've been down there for several years. I contemplate them from time to time; I think I'll give them to my kids at some point in the future to be displayed as tchotchkes. Like old bottles of patent medicine with contents intact.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:14 AM
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I actually drink a lot of energy drinks, but not Red Bull because it's twice as expensive as the rest. The Joose flavor description is wholly inaccurate. What it tasted like was cheap malt liquor mixed with NuGrape soda. Some, it was even worse than that description conveys.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:16 AM
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Some s/b Somehow


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:17 AM
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There is a huge potential for jokes in incredibly bad taste arising from the existence of an expensive, unpleasant drink called "Joose".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:23 AM
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255: "Contains 10% Real Low-hanging Fruit Juice".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:26 AM
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Apparently Zima is dead in the US as of late 2008 (apparently still alive in Japan according to Wikipedia).

Not only do we have Red Bull over here, it has a whole soccer team named for it (The NY/NJ MLS team, formerly Metrostars). Sigh.

My "energy" drink of choice is Vault, but the zero calorie version Vault Zero. Almost impossible to find. When I bitch about that, as I generally do on long drives when it is not to be found at the mini-marts, my daughter inevitably points out that I am probably alone in my grief and hence its absence from the shelves. Apparently it was reformulated in 2006 over concerns about Benzene ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:30 AM
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My "energy" drink of choice is Vault

I like Full Throttle, Amp, and No Fear. I'll take the generic Deton8 or Blue Streak if none of the good ones are on sale. Monster and Rock Star are icky.

And if anybody knows where I can find Caballo Negro (with Cat's Claw extract!), let me know. It was marketed to Hispanics, briefly appeared at my corner convenience mart for 99 cents/can, then vanished. That stuff was like snorting crank.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:35 AM
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I suppose those of us whose "energy" drink of choice is coffee are like so square, daddio.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:36 AM
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259: Yes, you can tell that just from the names. And the chemicals. Hope I get some strange, virulent cancer before I get old! Don't trust anyone over 30 who is not living an extended adolescence.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:40 AM
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That stuff was like snorting crank.

Ah, those were the days . . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:42 AM
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I was mainly trying to say above that, for Chinese, there's nothing precious about it, it's just the way restaurants work.

Right, and I was trying to explain my larger mindset. I kind of get that, since the cultural norm for Chinese people ordering Chinese food is so completely different, that will have some effects.

But, at the same time, all of these explanations come down to special pleading - they're all more or less applicable to other ethnic restaurants. Apparently Chinese restaurants are a kind of special snowflake, different from every other kind of restaurant, but all the same as each other.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:43 AM
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I would wager they've found that it's not worth the trouble and cost because there aren't enough people who both say they want real Chinese food and thean also actually do want real Chinese food. I don't think Big Chinese is actually trying to personally slight you. And remember, it's hard for restaurant staff to tell just from looking at you that you're "one of the good ones" (all whiteys pretty much look alike).

Again, why is this true only of Chinese restaurants and not other ethnic ones?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:46 AM
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I suppose those of us whose "energy" drink of choice is coffee are like so square, daddio.

Oh I like coffee too, but I only drink it up to about 10 am or so, because it's a godawful humid North Carolina summer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:49 AM
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re: 263

I hesitate to speculate in case it's offensive, but the impression, possibly false, that I got from Chinese friends* is that Chinese people are often pretty damn racist.

* mostly second generation, not first.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:49 AM
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I don't think I could bring myself to drink anything called Vault, Full Throttle, Amp, No Fear, Deton8, Blue Streak, Monster or Rock Star. They all sound like second-rate comic book superheroes or fast-jet callsigns.
My energy drink of choice is China tea.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:49 AM
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but all the same as each other

Racist.

But seriously, you seem (but then I may be misreading you) to be taking it way more personally than I think is warranted. For example, this:

In practice, btw, this means that we simply don't eat much Chinese food, because all the Chinese restaurants evidently take pride in serving us unutterable shit.

I actually find Chinese food for whiteys at most restaurants isn't particularly bad, and certainly not "shit". It's not "authentic", but that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good. But to my eye it seems like you're all upset that Chinese patrons are getting food that you're not, and that hurts your special snowflake feelings, or something.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:54 AM
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266: Yeah, the marketing of them all is super-goofy, but I love the whole eye-twitchy high they deliver.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:54 AM
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Again, why is this true only of Chinese restaurants and not other ethnic ones?

It's not true only of Chinese restaurants, for starters. But compared to say a Mexican restaurant, the fact that Chinese uses characters instead of a phonetic alphabet is a big deal, the fact that Spanish and English are much much closer to each other than Chinese and English is another, the fact that Mexican and generic American ideas about cuisine are much much closer to each other than Chinese is a big deal. "Ethnic restaurant" isn't a fungible commodity.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 8:59 AM
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I would wager they've found that it's not worth the trouble and cost because there aren't enough people who both say they want real Chinese food and thean also actually do want real Chinese food. I don't think Big Chinese is actually trying to personally slight you. And remember, it's hard for restaurant staff to tell just from looking at you that you're "one of the good ones" (all whiteys pretty much look alike).

I think you have to be clear about the ways that real Chinese food differs from American Chinese food. The one is the, uh, broader ingredient list. But the other is actual preparation. Chinese people don't simply eat, for every meal, protein + veg + brown glop. It's the brown glop to which I object. And I think that the examples of every other ethnic cuisine have shown that Americans are happy to learn to eat foreign cuisines at a level of sophistication above "one sauce to rule them all."

To me, here's a model for a reasonable menu that would serve everybody well:
Page 1: 15-20 Greatest Hits of Chinese-American cuisine. There's a newish place here (Wai Wai) that doesn't offer the 150-item menu, but has distilled it down to familiar, but well-done dishes. The food court places will tell you which 15-20 dishes you need; the rest are just menu-filler, with few adherents. Oh, and then you cook them well, which should be easier since you're not keeping track of 150 options.
Page 2: 10-15 Authentic Dishes from Your Province, sans scary meats. These things are already on the secret menu, and they're completely acceptable to American tastes - shit, just a simple water spinach with garlic, which fits right into American expectations, but isn't actually offered to Americans.
Page 3: Secret Chinese menu, tripe and all. Bare minimum translations, because it's just not that hard to do. Anyone flipping past the previous pages to order off this menu is obviously choosing to do so of his own free will. Shit, put "no substitutions, no returns" at the top, to scare off assholes.

There's no additional expense here - all of the food is already on the premises. You're not relying on American sophistication, because you're still offering General Tso's Chicken. Plus, you've got a happy middle ground for people who think they want something more authentic, but can't handle chicken feet. Nothing on page 2 is scary, just unfamiliar. And Page 3 is the menu you've already been handing out to Chinese patrons, just with a few words of English (the menus are coming from suppliers, so it's not as if the owner has to hire a freaking translator).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:00 AM
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Because authentic Chinese food is disgusting, while authentic Mexican food is not. People who run Chinese restaurants just want to make money -- they're not staying up at night agonizing over JRoth's restaurant experience. They have Chinese customers who want chicken feet, and white customers who want General Tso's chicken, but would be repulsed by the ingredients of authentic Chinese recipes.
It's not like they would refuse to serve you chicken feet -- I have seen white people order it. You can go into a restaurant where the menu is entirely in Chinese and still order kung pao chicken.

If tomorrow everyone decides that tripe is awesome, then I'm sure they'll put it on the menu in big letters.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:03 AM
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266, 268: And some of the can decorations are worse than the names. That's why I go with the understated elegance of Vault Zero. I've noticed that Jolt Cola seems to be trying to ride the energy drink craze. They now have about a half-dozen variants.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:04 AM
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shit, just a simple water spinach with garlic, which fits right into American expectations, but isn't actually offered to Americans.

This just doesn't map with my experience of Chinese restaurants at all, even from before I lived in China. Really? You've never been able to order vegetable sides like that in a Chinese restaurant? I just find that odd, and it's not like Austin has a large Chinese population or anything.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:06 AM
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some of the can decorations are worse than the names

Indeed. The bang-for-your-buck alternative, though, is the Deton8 powder (all the Deton8 products are Kroger generics), which gives you 10 sugar-free Pixy sticks for $2.50. You shake one up in a bottle of water and get super-caffeinated Kool-Aid. Far and away the most cost-effective solution, but they don't really taste very good and I miss the carbonation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:10 AM
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274: You should try the energy drink you get off of Kroger's secret menu.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:14 AM
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Shorter me (and maybe apo): If I have to live in an Idiocracy, I'm going to drink like it's one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:14 AM
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I actually find Chinese food for whiteys at most restaurants isn't particularly bad, and certainly not "shit". It's not "authentic", but that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good. But to my eye it seems like you're all upset that Chinese patrons are getting food that you're not, and that hurts your special snowflake feelings, or something.

You must have access to better Chinese restaurants than I do. I'm not kidding about calling it shit. I mean, there are exceptions, but the exceptions are simply OK, not actually "good."

Compare it with another cuisine where Americans are used to crappy, inauthentic stuff: Mexican (in Middle America, where there haven't traditionally been Mexican populations). You've got fast food grade slop, sit-down grade near-slop, and then occasional decent restaurants that, while they may not be "authentic" in the sense of actually reproducing the cuisine of Chiapas or wherever, offer food that is not tacosburritosenchiladasfajitas, use fresh ingredients, and treat neither Mexican food as a cartoon nor Americans as doofuses. WRT Chinese food, the last category simply doesn't exist*. And the middle category is the rare exception, even though it's not markedly more difficult to achieve. And the first, slop category, is the norm.

I don't want to be a special snowflake - that's my whole point and frustration. I don't want to need the special knowledge about the secret menu, or to have to try to engage a server in conversation about "what's fresh" to be able to access tasty food. I want to be able to walk into a restaurant, order the food that they offer me, and have it be good. That doesn't seem outlandish or prima donna-ish to me.

* in the vast majority of places


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:16 AM
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It's the brown glop to which I object.

Then order different dishes? Your "one sauce to rule them all" thing also does not map onto my experience of Chinese restaurants at all. I've never been to Pittsburgh, though.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:16 AM
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Because authentic Chinese food is disgusting,

This is just wrong.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:16 AM
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If anyone wants to get rich they should open a Mexican restaurant in Prague. Apparently there aren't any, and it's a terrible unmet need, so whenever Czechs go abroad (even to Scotland, ffs) and find themselves near a source of Mexican food, they get terribly excited and scoop the stuff up like dragliners.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:21 AM
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271 misrepresents the issue. Even if we start from the assumption that a vanishingly small number of American customers want to eat chicken feet or organ meats, there's still a large class of acceptible authentic Chinese food options that aren't on the standard Chinese restaurant menu for Americans. It's not as if tripe or chicken feet are all that Chinese people eat.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:21 AM
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Tripe is awesome, Chinese, Mexican, Pho, or my aunt's kitchen.

Counterexample: Tacos al lengua are only available at sketchy mexican taquerias or trucks, never niceish sit-down places. The sociology of authenticity in hispanic restaurants with a liquor license in the US can make unescorted lady patrons uncomfortable.

I agree that racism among Chinese is pretty common. I wouldn't expect running a restaurant in a foreign country to improve attitudes.

The largest restaurant I have ever seen in my life was on the outskirts of Shanghai-- 5x TGIFridays in size; huge, efficient, full, delicious.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:21 AM
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Kroger's secret menu

It's printed in redneck.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:22 AM
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I have to agree with JRoth here. Nobody I know would want to go to a Chinese restaurant for a nice dinner. Which is to say, there are no Chinese restaurants where anyone I know would want to go for a nice dinner. Or a nice lunch. However, this may all be a matter of branding. Perhaps the good Chinese restaurants have all been branded "Thai" or "Southeast Asian" or "Pan-Asian", because those concepts have positive cultural associations.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:23 AM
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277, 278: I'm guessing I have not tried as many places as JRoth, but I also have not found any Chinese restaurants that I would call 'great' in Pittsburgh. This is despite the fact that General Tso comes in a close second to Colonel Sanders in my personal ranking of military food creators. Which is another reason most of my Chinese food comes from P.F. Chang's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:23 AM
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265 says pretty much my assumption on the topic. The Chinese culture as whole has little regard for those who aren't Chinese. Obviously there are individual exceptions.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:25 AM
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I think the reason Chinese restaurants are different from other ethnic restaurants is that fancy (i.e., restaurant-type, rather than home-cooking-type) Chinese food is typically extremely labor intensive. The big Chinatown palace-type restaurants have about a billion menu items, and about ten thousand kitchen staff to cook them. They might translate some of the menu items for American patrons, but not others, figuring that no white people ever order sea cucumbers in broad bean sauce anyway, and the one time someone did, they freaked out and made a fuss. Let's not make that mistake again. They're not trying to withhold the food from you -- why would they? If you ask for it, they'll give it to you.

This phenomenon is less frequent in, say, Korean or Japanese restaurants, because Korean or Japanese restaurants often specialize in a single thing, or a couple of things. You wouldn't get Korean barbecue at the same place as you'd get Korean tofu soup, for example. I think it's because Korean culinary history is more compressed, and Korea doesn't have a history of empire, where rich people had fleets of servants to prepare their food. So the menus are typically shorter, less complicated, and easier to translate.

The other complaints -- that Chinese restaurants put too much onion in their food, or that all the food comes in brown gloppy sauce -- I don't know what to do with, because I don't know what you're talking about. You should stop eating at Panda Express, I guess.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:25 AM
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279: I was presuming he meant "to the standard American palate".

I don't want to need the special knowledge about the secret menu, or to have to try to engage a server in conversation about "what's fresh" to be able to access tasty food. I want to be able to walk into a restaurant, order the food that they offer me, and have it be good. That doesn't seem outlandish or prima donna-ish to me.

It's not, and there's nothing wrong with wanting that, but it is a preference that's heavily based on the culture you were raised in. I personally hate haggling and negotiating too, but that's the way pretty much everything is done in China. I can't tell you how excited I would get when I would walk into a shop and there were actual price tags on things so I didn't have to ask a price and then go through the rigamarole of bargaining.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:26 AM
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You've never been able to order vegetable sides like that in a Chinese restaurant?

In most of the Chinese restaurants I've been in, the veg dishes are basically the same as the meat dishes, but without meat. The sauce is the same brown glop. Fresh-tasting veg in a light but flavorful sauce are not the norm.

271: It's not all about the chicken feet. Dan dan mian, frex, is 100% American-friendly, and I've seen it in one restaurant in my life (granted, it's street food, but the point stands - completely authentic, completely un-disgusting by any non-vegetarian standard).

Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian - none of these act the way Chinese menus do. I'm sure that natives and immigrants come in and order things not on the menu, but they don't, as a matter of course, have a secret menu for their countrymen and an inauthentic menu for Americans. I'm sure Thai food in Thailand features proteins we don't favor. But Thai restaurants haven't reacted to that fact by leaving off all curries from the menu, and serving only generic glop.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:26 AM
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And I think 271 also overstates the differences in Chinese and Mexican food. You can find taco places in California or the southwest that will serve tacos made with eye or tongue or tripe, which put these things on English menus and don't, for instance, serve the more American-friendly varieties like asada in a different way to English-speakers than to Spanish-speakers.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:28 AM
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re: 280

I was just hinking but I can't remember seeing any. Non-czech food in Prague [Thai/Indian/Chinese, whatever] tends to be piss poor, though, so I'd imagine you could do well opening a reasonably priced but decent bog-standard Chinese/Thai/Indian place.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:29 AM
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re: Tacos in Prague

IME Czechs are pretty faddish about restaurants-- pasta+pizza went from almost nothing to super-popular really fast. The biggest immigrant population is Vietnamese, about whose cuisine, language, and culture Czechs are generally not too curious. It's not a bad idea, though. Cumin, peppers, and tortillas would ship well, would need to line up avocado, cilantro, lime sources.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:31 AM
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Then order different dishes? Your "one sauce to rule them all" thing also does not map onto my experience of Chinese restaurants at all.

Granted, there's also glistening golden sweet glop and, for seafood, white glop. Some dishes, like lo mein, are just oily.

I'm not saying that there is literally a single sauce on every dish, just as even a 1950s Italian place would have marinara and meat sauce and alfredo. It's still a pretty dumbed-down and unsatisfying kind of cuisine.

BTW, to clarify: I grew up loving Chinese. My family went out for Chinese once a month, like clockwork. We sought out Sichuan places, because they were slightly more "authentic" than Cantonese (which at the time was a byword for chop suey; this has no flipped, interestingly). Whether it's my palate improving or things have actually gotten worse (as I said way up above, I'm not the only person who has suggested that they have), I don't much enjoy restaurant Chinese anymore. And that's a goddamn shame.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:32 AM
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For what it's worth, I've had some very memorable meals at Chinese restaurants, but there are regional and other considerations like: some were in bay area, one was a (chinese) wedding catered at a fancy place, and one of the best was just a huge family meal I was invited to, held in a restaurant because it could seat 100+ people.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:33 AM
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288: It's not, and there's nothing wrong with wanting that, but it is a preference that's heavily based on the culture you were raised in.

I think that's the core of the complaint -- that it's hard to buy good Chinese food in the US unless you're Chinese, or have the linguistic/cultural chops to maneuver through a culturally Chinese process. There's not a lot of service for the "I want good Chinese food delivered in a restaurant easily culturally navigable for an American" market.

I don't get bent out of shape about it, but I do think of, e.g., Thai food as just better food than Chinese food, because the good stuff is easier to access for a cultural outsider.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:35 AM
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In my experience, except for Big Burrito and Italian food, Pittsburgh is not a good city for eating out in general. I'm not saying there is nothing, but the middle range (say $10 to $20 for an entry) doesn't leave many choices or much variation. (I could eat Italian nearly every day, so this doesn't bother me personally.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:37 AM
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JRoth's experience really doesn't map well to mine. Granted, much of mine comes from San Fran/Vancouver/Toronto, which are particular markets for this sort of thing. I'm perfectly willing to believe that most north american cities have nothing like the sort of restaurants you find all over Richmond Hill, for example. Then again, these restaurants typically make little or no effort to help english speakers at all, so I can see that side of it. Doesn't really bother me, but I can see how it would.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:37 AM
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This phenomenon is less frequent in, say, Korean or Japanese restaurants, because Korean or Japanese restaurants often specialize in a single thing, or a couple of things. You wouldn't get Korean barbecue at the same place as you'd get Korean tofu soup, for example. I think it's because Korean culinary history is more compressed, and Korea doesn't have a history of empire, where rich people had fleets of servants to prepare their food. So the menus are typically shorter, less complicated, and easier to translate.

This finally gets me somewhere. And I can see that what has likely happened is that the "big Chinatown palace-type restaurant" menus have trickled down to places that are utterly incapable of actually serving 150 good dishes (plus another 100 for Chinese customers). It would be as if creperies in America felt the need to offer an entire haute cuisine menu (while leaving the best stuff off the English menu, of course).

Which still makes me think that my proposed menu is the way to go - people who want to can still ask for off-menu items, callow Americans can still have beef with broccoli, and Americans who like food can get food that the cooks don't despise.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:37 AM
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Non-czech food in Prague [Thai/Indian/Chinese, whatever] tends to be piss poor

My old boss, who spent a ton of Prague (basically ran his business into the ground because he was over there more than he was here), despised Czech food. Said there was no such thing as good Czech food. And he wasn't closed-minded about food in general.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:40 AM
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We sought out Sichuan places, because they were slightly more "authentic" than Cantonese

Outside of NYC and SF and other big coastal cities with significant Chinese populations, most Chinese restaurants in the 70s and 80s in the States were opened by Vietnamese refugees of southwest Chinese (primarily Sichuan) descent. Like in many other places in SE Asia, the ethnic Chinese formed a generally distinct merchant class in Vietnam, and many faced confiscation, persectution, etc after the North won the civil war.

Lots fled to America and started "Chinese" restaurants because at the time "Vietnam" had image problems, and they served a version of Chinese food that had been filtered through Vietnam and then adapted to general American tastes.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:40 AM
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I'm perfectly willing to believe that most north american cities have nothing like the sort of restaurants you find all over Richmond Hill, for example. Then again, these restaurants typically make little or no effort to help english speakers at all, so I can see that side of it.

I think the whole argument is that there isn't much of a difference between having no good restaurants, and having good restaurants that "make no effort to help english speakers", i.e. do not give good food to english speakers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:40 AM
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I don't get bent out of shape about it

If having white skin got you an organic beef burger with real mayonnaise at Macdonald's you would be getting hell bent out of shape about it. I don't see the difference here.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:41 AM
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301: Not much of a difference for English speakers, that is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:41 AM
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I could eat Italian nearly every day

You're the problem! I will never understand why there are so fucking many Italian restaurants in this city. Why do people keep opening more? We have enough. Stop!

It is no exaggeration to say that AB & I have dined at nearly every non-chain, sit-down restaurant in Pgh and the immediate environs - except the Italian ones. We can't keep up with those. It's insane.

Oh, and I disagree with Moby's overall characterization, FWIW. I'm quite pleased with the restaurants here, although it's true that I get to sample the high end ones at a rate far beyond my natural means.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:45 AM
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I'm sure there are certain ethnic markers and speech patterns that will make the guy at the cheesesteak place in Philly ask if you want Cheez Whiz on your sandwich instead of actual cheese, and that there are people who will actually believe that this is "better", but that still doesn't make it a big deal.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:45 AM
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I could eat Italian nearly every day

You're the problem! I will never understand why there are so fucking many Italian restaurants in this city. Why do people keep opening more? We have enough. Stop!

It is no exaggeration to say that AB & I have dined at nearly every non-chain, sit-down restaurant in Pgh and the immediate environs - except the Italian ones. We can't keep up with those. It's insane.

Oh, and I disagree with Moby's overall characterization, FWIW. I'm quite pleased with the restaurants here, although it's true that I get to sample the high end ones at a rate far beyond my natural means.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:45 AM
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302: Well, I'm in NY -- if I liked Chinese food better, there are decent places with some, but not a prohibitive, cultural barrier. I'd just have to do some work on researching decent restaurants and how to order that I haven't done. Now, I'm not crazy about Chinese food partially because the stuff you get if you don't invest a fair amount of effort in avoiding it is the cornstarch and sugar glop JRoth's talking about, which is okay for takeout if you don't want to cook, but not thrilling. So it's a self perpetuating cycle, but part of the problem is my being lazy about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:46 AM
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Said there was no such thing as good Czech food.

That's just so, so wrong.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:46 AM
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300: Fascinating. I'm not actually sure how that maps to our situation, since we were in NY (just north of the city) in the mid-70s, Miami in the early 80s, then NJ (an hour west of the city) in the late 80s.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:48 AM
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304: As near as I can tell, 3/4 of Pittsburgh is either Irish or Italian. Which of those did you want to become common?

(P.S. I'm sort of fond of the crepe place on Craig Street now. Kind of pricey for what is basically a pancake, but I'd never seen anything like it around here.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:50 AM
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308: Not that I took his word as gospel, but this is interesting to hear.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:50 AM
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If having white skin got you an organic beef burger with real mayonnaise at Macdonald's you would be getting hell bent out of shape about it.

What, they don't serve you the secret food at McD's? Are you sure you're white, W. Breeze?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:50 AM
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310.1: Fair enough.

310.2: The new place on Penn Circle South, Paris 66, is supposed to be fabulous. Will go soon.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:53 AM
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311: Oh man. I still dream sometimes of the several meals we had at this one place I now can't remember the name of. I think it had "gold" or "golden" in the name.

There was also a cute dachshund on premises.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:53 AM
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Apparently, I will now have to take-back everything I've ever said about Pittsburgh restuarants.
http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09230/991624-100.stm


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:54 AM
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RE McD's: The other day the drug dealer's daughter came over to play, bringing with her the McD's cash register/headset kit. She took everybody's orders. I was vaguely aware of it before, so I merely sighed at it. AB was about plunged into despair.

I realize that kids have always played at menial work, but something about actually putting the headset on a little girl who probably doesn't have much more of a future than that.... Sigh.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:55 AM
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313: Actually, based on your recommendation (or at least non-condemnation) I've been meaning to try the seafood place on Browns Hill. It would be nice to have something adequate that near to my house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:56 AM
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I think it had "gold" or "golden" in the name.

Were there arches?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:56 AM
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283: When the day comes, what will be the first 3 words of the redneck call to arms?

Attention K-Mart shoppers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:56 AM
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and having good restaurants that "make no effort to help english speakers", i.e. do not give good food to english speakers.

Oh, I didn't mean it that way. They gave great food to english speakers. But in some places, nearly all signage was in Chinese, as was all menus, so it was hard to find places and you had to have help with the menu. Once you were there they treated you well though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:57 AM
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315: I'll be reviewing its exterior design on Thursday. I already told them that, if they show up with the chicken-fried ribeye, they can have whatever they want.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:57 AM
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If having white skin got you an organic beef burger with real mayonnaise at Macdonald's you would be getting hell bent out of shape about it. I don't see the difference here.

I think this comment really gets at what has kind of gotten under my skin in this discussion. I think there's a big difference between saying "I wish we had better Chinese restaurants around here" or "I wish it were easier to order the good stuff at Chinese restaurants around here" versus "THEY'RE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ME!"

Some of the comments have, to my eye, shaded too far toward the latter, and I think it's misinterpreting the situation.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:57 AM
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the seafood place on Browns Hill

Yeah, as long as you recognize that it's a buffet, not fine dining, it's pretty satisfying. The frog legs are - no shit - awesome. And, as I said, the Chinese dishes are at the high end of generic, whitey-friendly Chinese food.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 9:59 AM
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Also I should note that you can order off menu at many (most?) (non-chain, not fast food) restaurants, but it's just not usual for many north americans I guess. I used to go out for dinner fairly regularly with a guy who was in the business all his life (and he's was a generation older than I). It was pretty rare for him to order off the menu, which was an eye opener for me. He did know people in a lot of the kitchens, sure, but not everywhere.

Now there are some places I'm always off menu, if I know they appreciate the chance to mix it up a bit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:05 AM
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JRoth's experience really doesn't map well to mine.

Likewise. The west coast is a different place. But seriously, Chinese is among the world's great cuisines.

Said there was no such thing as good Czech food.

Lots of game and mushrooms, what's not to love? It wasn't great the couple of times I had it in Prague, but that was just a problem of execution.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:06 AM
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"The frog legs are - no shit - awesome"

I wonder what they do with the rest of the frog. Probably animal feed or it's on the secret menu.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:06 AM
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Chinese is among the world's great cuisines.

This is absolutely true.

As you note, the west coast is different. Most of my really positive Chinese food experience comes from there, and a bit from Toronto which has a large new-money chinese population to support the restaurants and markets.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:08 AM
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re: 299

Good Czech food is really nice. There's a lot of crap pubs in Prague catering to tourists, though.

re: 325

I've only seen game at really quite upmarket places. You'd be more likely to find game in the UK, in my experience. But yeah, nicely cooked pork dishes, stews, really good soup, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:09 AM
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Becks and Bave and I enjoyed one of the cheapest and most interesting dinners I've ever had at Congee Village here, and they're good enough to go ahead and translate the authentic standard dishes into English, despite having an almost entirely Chinese following. I think Bave had some kind of frog-rice thing, and Becks had pork and preserved egg. I had, like, vegetables.

One thing that I didn't "get" at the time (this is over a year ago, I think) was that no one actually orders off the menu, which lists individual ingredients as if they're dishes, except in the case of presentation meals like the frog-rice, which comes in a wooden casket thing. So I ordered a few of the vegetable things, and they kept asking me if that's what I really wanted. I figured they were just doubting whether I knew what the vegetables were (they were non-standard), but I later realized they meant, "Do you honestly want a gigantic heaping platter of lotus root? Because you might want other things, you know..."

But yeah, there are a few places in Chinatown that have pretty authentic menus with anywhere from a little to a lot of English. There are a couple of great vegetarian dim sum places where I can just point and hope for the best, which is harder at non-veg places. (I understand a little spoken Chinese, but I'm 100% illiterate.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:10 AM
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328: Are you talking about the kind of game one snorts up one's nose, or the kind one puts betwixt cheek and gum and sort of sucks on?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:12 AM
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We also, of course, had congee, which I love. We ate so much we were nearly sick, but left half the food we ordered on the table. I think we spent $35.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:13 AM
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Counterexample: Tacos al lengua are only available at sketchy mexican taquerias or trucks

Allow me to endorse Taqueria Vallarta, between Balmy and Blue Six! Fuckin' delicious. They also will serve you brain tacos. (In fact there are two things on the list of meats, sesos and cabeza, both translated as "brain", but I believe this is only correct in the former case? I don't know Spanish.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:13 AM
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326: there isn't really much edible on the rest of the frog. The most edible bits are (as with most other animals) the muscles, and those are mostly on the hind legs. As for the rest, once you've removed the skin, the bones and the guts (skin and guts can both have nasty effects) there isn't really much left to eat.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:14 AM
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no such thing as good Czech food

Not much of a restaurant culture until maybe 2001. You could get lucky, but if you couldn't read the language and had to feed yourself all the time without access to a kitchen or locals who cooked you'd be fucked. But you'd be an imbecile in that case.

OK game at Obora, near Metro Dejvicka, dinner runs 350 apiece or so.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:14 AM
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re: 334

Learning to read Czech menus is easy, though. It's the first thing I did when I started going there regularly. Couple of dozen words and you are set. My Czech vocab is still woeful, but my food-nouns and basic fried/boiled type verbs are pretty good.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:15 AM
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I figured they were just doubting whether I knew what the vegetables were (they were non-standard), but I later realized they meant, "Do you honestly want a gigantic heaping platter of lotus root? Because you might want other things, you know..."

How much later? When they brought out a platter of lotus root? Or did things get worked out otherwise?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:17 AM
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I can say "Czech, please!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:17 AM
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Czecha, please.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:18 AM
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and basic fried/boiled type verbs are pretty good.

That covers you for food in scotland, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:18 AM
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335: Numbers and food words are always the first things I end up being any good at all at in any language.

As I've mentioned before, in China I also quickly became good at saying "Comrade, we are all in line here!" in a pretty convincing manner.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:19 AM
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336: At first, they brought out a big plate of mixed veg, which I knew was not what I ordered and said so. They looked at me funny, like of course you don't actually want a gigantic platter of lotus root. I just figured they'd brought me someone else's food; otherwise I'd have eaten it. But I actually did expect what I eventually got, a gigantic platter of lotus root, and some other things on other plates. I just didn't realize that I could mix-n-match.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:23 AM
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lotus root done in a little sesame oil is yummy!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:27 AM
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340: in China I also quickly became good at saying "Comrade, we are all in line here!" in a pretty convincing manner.

"However, now among the younger and more urban Chinese, 同志 [tongzhi: comrade] has definite implications of homosexuality (not necessarily in a pejorative way, however, as it has been adopted by the gay community, and thus is more analogous to the English term queer than faggot)."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_honorifics#Other_prefixes_and_suffixes

So M/tch has become notorious in China as "That Weird Gwailo Who Keeps Calling Everyone Queers".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:30 AM
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342: Oddly , lotus root cut into rounds and fried in a light batter ends us with a texture quite similar to white fish.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:30 AM
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344: Yes, that's weird. It's quite crunchy without the batter.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:35 AM
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as it has been adopted by the gay community

Actually it was first used by the (male) gay community to refer to each other in a joking and ironic way before being adopted by the young urban kool kidz rather later.

Outside of those circles, you mostly hear it from old dudes and from whiteys who had learned Chinese using old Chinese textbooks. It has a very quaint, antiquated sound to it generally. I tried to say it in a loud "cheerfully patriotic old man" voice.

Also, just to nitpick, "gwailo" ("ghost face") is a Cantonese term. I was on the mainland, and the standard Mandarin term for whiteys is "laowai" ("old foreigner").


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:38 AM
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346: what a relief...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:41 AM
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So, perhaps one thing I don't understand is the difference between bog-standard Chinese and bog-standard Vietnamese restaurants.

Its true that I rarely see offal on the menu at Chinese restaurants, but the Vietnamese places - of the same cost and style - proudly tout the tripe in their pho, etc. Why the difference?

Also, this thread has convinced me that JRoth needs to come to CA. He can go to one of the many amazing Chinese restaurants here; the sort that are in a giant ballroom of 500 tables with women pushing carts and talking frantically and where the ambient noise level approximates the Daytona 500, but where everything is really quite good and interesting.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:47 AM
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153 -

If "(n-1)st" is wrong for the reason that n could be 100 and "99st" is wrong, then "(n-1)th" is also wrong, on the grounds that n could be 102 and "101th" is wrong. So we could go with "(n-1)th" on the grounds that it's wrong less often, or with "(n-1)st" on the grounds that it fits the spoken version better.

On the other hand, we could go with the illogical "nth -1", based on the important and much-neglected consideration that it's fun to think of it as akin to "justices of the peace", "men o' war", etc.


Posted by: KingOfVegetables | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:47 AM
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based on the important and much-neglected consideration that it's fun to think of it as akin to "justices of the peace", "men o' war", etc.

If that consideration made the slightest bit of sense in the present situation, we might base our conclusions on it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:48 AM
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I have never been to one of Parenthetical's amazing restaurants, which saddens me.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:49 AM
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350: Why the sudden fetishization of making sense, neb?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:51 AM
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Really? I've only been to a few, granted, but I assumed that was because I didn't grow up in LA - all of the ones I've been to were in some suburb of LA that is almost exclusively Chinese. (For example, there is barely any English on the store signs, etc.) And of course I don't remember exactly where I was, because that area confuses me to no end, so I probably will never be able to go back and have chicken feet again.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:51 AM
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I have never been to one of Parenthetical's amazing restaurants, which saddens me.

This is a solvable problem.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:52 AM
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neb's been undressed by kings, and he's seen some things that a woman laowai ain't s'posed to see . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:53 AM
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I know where I can apprehend chicken feet, but no one pushes a cart in a vast hall of diners there.

This is a solvable problem.

I need more glutton friends.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:54 AM
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There are a couple of great vegetarian dim sum places where I can just point and hope for the best, which is harder at non-veg places.

This is why it is always Vegetarian Dim Sum House for me.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:54 AM
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I prefer Great Vegetarian Dim Sum Place.


Posted by: Satan Mayo | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:55 AM
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You should go to The Kitchen in Millbrae. It's the best dim sum I've ever had in the U.S., better even than the palaces in Monterey Park and San Gabriel. I miss it whenever I've been away from the Bay Area for too long.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:55 AM
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Maybe I should go to The Kitchen in Millbrae!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:57 AM
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Although, it's not one of the cart-pushing type places, so if you're looking for that experience, you should look elsewhere, maybe to Fook Yuen, which is just down the street on the strip.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:57 AM
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353: I've been to restaurants in L.A. where I could have sworn I was right back in China. Amazing food, plus everyone else there a recent immigrant, speaking different dialects, all signage in Chinese, the obligatory hot and noisy atmosphere, etc.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:58 AM
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but no one pushes a cart in a vast hall of diners there.

I'm wondering if maybe it is a LA-phenomenon. I've had good Chinese in SF but without that particular experience, which was 2/3rds carnival and 1/3rd culturally destabilizing. I should do some investigation - aka, call the family friend who would always take us there - and figure out where we were.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:58 AM
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I confess that I get nervous and self-conscious in culturally destabilizing situations. Standing lanky in this store, for instance, I felt like a complete intruder.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:00 AM
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Clearly the mouseover needs to change from "Mexican" to "Chinese".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:01 AM
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I confess that I get nervous and self-conscious in culturally destabilizing situations.

I do too, but I figure it is good for you, right?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:02 AM
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365: Everybody wants to edit my masterpiece.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:04 AM
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364: Next time you go, wear a button that says "Ask me about my slivovitz consumption!".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:04 AM
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I haven't consumed any slivovitz in a while.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:05 AM
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369: Well, it is still before noon.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:07 AM
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Oops, 370 should read "WHO ASKED YOU?".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:07 AM
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It was an idle thought, emended 370, likely to be followed by slivovitz consumption.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:09 AM
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I haven't consumed any slivovitz in a while.

I've never had any ... my consumption of Eastern European food leaves much to be desired. Perhaps a new project for when fall comes and I tire of Indian.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:09 AM
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Eastern European food and drink


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:10 AM
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373: NOT IF I TIRE OF YOU FIRST!!!1!!!


Posted by: OPINIONATED INDIAN | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:10 AM
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SK is out of town again, I guess.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:11 AM
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IN EASTERN EUROPE, FOOD AND DRINK TIRE OF YOU!


Posted by: OPINIONATED EASTERN EUROPEAN | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:12 AM
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Actually I did have Chinese food that wasn't over-onioned, in a big buffet in Falls Church, VA that was frequented by prosperous-looking Chinese families. (Whether they were immigrants from China or Taiwan, ethnic Chinese of the Han diaspora or ABCs I of course couldn't ascertain, given that I was a stranger to the area and didn't take a census of the patrons.) I went hog-wild and sampled all kinds of dishes I'd never seen before; now I wish I'd've taken notes so I could share them here (I clearly need all the k3wl-kr3d I can get). If only one could find such restaurants in more localities.

An OT side issue: what's wrong with using "Oriental" to mean East Asians of "Mongoloid" appearance? Or perhaps we should use a term like "Eastasian" instead? Pakistan, Armenia and Israel are also all in Asia, but here in the U.S. we don't call Tel Aviv natives "Asian." If we've got to describe people based on "race," and it appears that we must (as we must accept government and in a two-party system yet), why not be a tad more specific? If we're going to object to "Oriental," why not also eschew "white" (printer paper is white) or "Caucasian" (what have my British ancestors to do with the Caucasus, which by the way is in Asia)?


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:12 AM
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SK is out of town again

Who's SK?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:13 AM
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what have my British ancestors to do with the Caucasus

They were fractious, aggressive and had a tendency to wear moustaches?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:14 AM
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Sir Kraab, M/tch's main squeeze.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:14 AM
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There are giant dim sum caverns in SF, out on Geary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:14 AM
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Or else I made that up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:15 AM
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He has other, subsidiary squeezes, but they don't comment here, that we know of.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:15 AM
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But few mortals who enter there ever return. We must be careful.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:15 AM
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There are dim sum places out on Clement but I've never noticed any giant caverns.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:15 AM
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Sir Kraab, M/tch's main squeeze.

Oh, of course. Memory lapse like that probably means I should go be productive. Don't want to squander my brain-dead time.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:15 AM
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(I clearly need all the k3wl-kr3d I can get)

I am fascinated by the way this statement is both self-reinforcing and totally self-refuting.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:16 AM
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what's wrong with using "Oriental" to mean East Asians of "Mongoloid" appearance?

You mean those with Down Syndrome?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:17 AM
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what's wrong with using "Oriental" to mean East Asians of "Mongoloid" appearance?

You're leaving out an awful lot of the Orient.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:20 AM
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>>what have my British ancestors to do with the Caucasus?

> They were fractious, aggressive and had a tendency to wear moustaches?

Actually we're "British" in a broader sense: we call ourselves Scotch-Irish but the name is English (or some say Welsh). And given our homeland "on this side of the pond" I'd suspect we originally wore moustaches *and beards* (except possibly the women), though the few men I've met from Dad's family (of course in the 20th century) were very clean-shaven.

Another side-question: is "Sixteen Tons" rockabilly? Dad though so; that and "A Boy Named Sue" were my preschool theme songs.


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:27 AM
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390: And some nice lots too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:28 AM
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>> (I clearly need all the k3wl-kr3d I can get)

> I am fascinated by the way this statement is both self-reinforcing and totally self-refuting.

Please explain. I think I know what you mean, but when I assume....


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:28 AM
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You're leaving out an awful lot of the Orient.

The inscrutable Persians, for example.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:30 AM
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394: Especially the Mexican ones.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:31 AM
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What an awful lot, those Persians.

Not half so awful as the Lurs, of course.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:32 AM
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395: Like there was some other kind.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:32 AM
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396: you got something against Freddie Mercury?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:33 AM
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397: There are Persian cats. Mexico only has chihuahuas.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:33 AM
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351: Huh. I would have guessed that Irvine would have some really outstanding Chinese cuisine, despite the fact that from what I've seen Irvine away from the university is a vast stretch of sterile office parks.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:35 AM
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I have no idea what "too many onions" means. It seems to be a contradiction in terms. "Not enough onions" is of course a regrettably frequent experience.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:36 AM
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I have had some good chinese food in irvine, though at the time I did, I wouldn't have been able to judge (one place, now nonexistent, was supposed to be highly reputed, though)—but none of them were dim-sum-on-carts places!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:38 AM
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398: Where are the Persian/Parsi flamewars of yesteryear?

Alternate reply: If I said Freddie Mercury had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:38 AM
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And some nice lots too.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:39 AM
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But Freddie Mercury was an Englishman. (Of the Zoroastrian faith, of Gujrati extraction.) As English as Orwell, he was!


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:40 AM
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They also will serve you brain tacos.

Mmm... prions.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:40 AM
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403: Helpful link for those with no k3wl kr3d.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:42 AM
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Mmm... prions.

Yeah, I really can't eat brains for that reason alone.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:43 AM
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But Freddie Mercury was an Englishman.

The eternal debate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:44 AM
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I really can't eat brains for that reason alone.

It has to have prions *and* be tasty.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:46 AM
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Also, I like having post titles in Chinese. It makes the Recent Comments sidebar all pretty.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:47 AM
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Prions, bradyzoites and maggots make for an interesting life.

Oh and "It has to have prions *and* be tasty" leaves you out too, I hear.


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:47 AM
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411: Orientalist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:49 AM
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apo has a thing for Asian comments.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:50 AM
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Entity, you are tiresome!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:50 AM
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414: I hear their timestamps go side-to-side, rather than front-to-back.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:52 AM
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415: But untiring!

I will have to go away for a while, I have errands to run.


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:53 AM
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Tiresomeness is a recognized sign of CJD.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:54 AM
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[Okay apostropher, now you're It. Carry on!]


Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:54 AM
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Apo's timestamps are 8 miles wide.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:55 AM
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apo has, like, 30 goddamn timestamps.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:56 AM
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421: And a new friend.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:58 AM
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Also, I like having post titles in Chinese. It makes the Recent Comments sidebar all pretty.

My thought exactly. Bring on the non-Latin scripts!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:05 PM
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Does Wingdings count as non-Latin?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:06 PM
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As I mentioned above, several of the restaurants I used to go to in Glasgow had prominently displayed menus in English and in Chinese. Usually the latter had much of the same stuff on it, but also several things that were different, and the specials of the day were usually entirely different.*

I guess I should have amended my comment to say that I heard about the specific association between so-called secret menus and Chinese restaurants from non-Chinese people. The idea of a restaurant having different menus is something I had heard of before, but usually in the context of travel - places where tourists got one menu, locals the other. I never heard of that being a specifically Chinese practice, although as I said above, it may be that I benefited from secret menus with my family without knowing it. On the other hand, the Chinese food I've eaten with family has been of widely variable quality.

A lot of the Chinese food I've had in DC has been nearly inedible crap. Some of that is probably the result of not knowing where to go, but some of the menu items I thought would be familiar turned out to be drowning in greasy sauces (of at least two types, by the way, a brown one and a white one). You'd think a standard dish like beef and broccoli would look roughly the same in lots of different places, but I've never seen it like that in the west coast (including when I'm not with my family).

In terms of menu variety, lots of restaurants with Italian food don't have a very deep menu. I like penne arrabiata but it's not something I've seen that often in Italian restaurants, for example. I wonder if they'd have it if I asked.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:13 PM
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424: Dingbat fonts are not pretty. Plus, Wingdings is implicated in the 9/11 attacks.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:16 PM
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||

I'm waiting for my best friend's child to get out of heart surgery (thus the excessive commenting). Can I just say that it is entirely weird to be so on edge and anxious without actually being there? I'm sitting at home, having a normal day, and someone has their hands on his heart many miles away. (Things appear to be going well from the update that I got, so it's not a crisis or anything. Just anxiety-provoking.)

|>


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:17 PM
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The absolute worst Chinese food I ever had was in Tinytown, Northern Jutland, Denmark, where M was living for some time. The regular Danish diet of gravybread potatomeat was unsustainable, so he ended up eating a lot of meals at Terrible Chinese Restaurant, despite the horribleness of the food. The family who ran TCR were actually Vietnamese, and they took pity on him. One night they closed the restaurant and served a stellar Vietnamese meal for him and couple of friends. It was tremendous. They wouldn't accept payment! We loved them.

Maybe they should have served delicious Vietnamese food on a business basis, rather than horrible Chinese food, but they must have known what they were doing. Tinytowners loved the horrible Chinese food.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:24 PM
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Dan dan mian, frex, is 100% American-friendly, and I've seen it in one restaurant in my life

Way late to this, but seriously, I think this is a Pittsburgh thing. Dan dan mian is sufficiently mainstream in Cali that the places that come to mind first aren't even straight-up Chinese restaurants. (This chain, for example.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:25 PM
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I've had good Chinese in SF but without that particular experience, which was 2/3rds carnival and 1/3rd culturally destabilizing.

Canton Dim Sum & Seafood, on Folsom at Hawthorne. Not ZOMG Greatest Dim Sum Evar, but tasty and never so crowded I've had to wait for a table.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 12:33 PM
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Where are the pretty Recent Comments sidebars of yore?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:20 PM
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If you mention them they come back! Whoa!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:24 PM
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427: Best wishes going out to all of you -- that must be totally nerve-wracking! FWIW, by way of encouraging anecdata, my friend's little girl had open-heart surgery to correct a congenital defect a year and a half ago, and you'd never know from watching the kid that anything had ever been wrong.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:25 PM
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432: Like all things Oriental, they're mystical, magical, inscrutable . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:26 PM
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433: I bet you can tell from watching the parents' nervous tics. Holy crap would that wreck me for months, even in the best case.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:28 PM
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433: Thanks! His is congenital too, and I'm looking forward to the growth he'll be doing after the surgery (he's on the very small side).

My mom worked for years with recovering heart patients, so I'm less nervous than I could be. Just one of those things...


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:30 PM
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Yeah, best wishes, Parenthetical.

And I'm not just saying that for the sake of a pretty Recent Comments sidebar.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:30 PM
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More best wishes to all concerned. (Is it possible to run out of best wishes and just offer, like, second-best wishes? It's one of those phrases that always seems a little off. Wishing for the best, perhaps, makes the intent clearer.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 1:49 PM
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I like pretty Recent Comments sidebars. Discuss.

Going way back to JRoth's 270, it reminds of the optimize vs. satisfice conversations we've occasionally had here.

And in LB's 295:

I think that's the core of the complaint -- that it's hard to buy good Chinese food in the US unless you're Chinese, or have the linguistic/cultural chops to maneuver through a culturally Chinese process. There's not a lot of service for the "I want good Chinese food delivered in a restaurant easily culturally navigable for an American" market.

That got me to thinking about the creation of cultural space and what the proper expectations of insiders and outsiders there should be. For example, many gay dance clubs have a significant straight clientele, and have to do a lot of negotiating between the expectations, desires, tastes, etc of different groups within and without the gay community.

Lastly, I love "gravybread potatomeat". It's the perfect title if they ever do a Danish version of Eat Drink Man Woman.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:05 PM
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427: An Ex-GF of mine had that sort of surgery as a very young child, and is doing well. Also a leading contender for the hottest woman I ever dated. She had a big scar where they pretty much cracked her in half to get at her innards, which she was a little self conscious about, but that was the only long term effect.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:08 PM
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439:
如此讓白人民使用這個雅虎站點.
мы носим верхние части везде don' внапуска; t мы?
그러나 그 위치는 종소리 박쥐를 하지 않는다



Posted by: Entity | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:18 PM
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Whee, out of surgery successfully and is resting "comfortably." (So not true, but still. The big event is done.)

Thanks for the best (better?) wishes.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:22 PM
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Very good to hear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:25 PM
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Yay!

See, if I want "best wishes" to mean "wishing for the best", then I don't know what to do with "best regards", so I guess it does mean that the wishes are best, after all. But who ranks wishes? What happens to all the subpar wishes? Can I think of more stupid language things to complain about on the internet to avoid doing this calculation?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:32 PM
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Courage.


Posted by: Dan Rather | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:34 PM
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446

444: I've been troubled by "yours," "yours truly," "yours always," etc. It's fallen out of standard usage enough that when someone signs this way, just for a moment, I think, "Mine! All mine!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:43 PM
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447

Can I think of more stupid language things to complain about on the internet to avoid doing this calculation?

I hope so!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:43 PM
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448

(I am avoiding writing a recommendation letter I've been putting off. Whee!)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:45 PM
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449

448: Crowdsource it!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:48 PM
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450

447 was I.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:49 PM
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451

Do professional language calculators do calculations to avoid complaining about language? Perhaps an exchange could be orchestrated!


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:51 PM
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452

446: Even better are the old-fashioned "I will always remain your most humble and obedient servant, etc.,"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:51 PM
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453

Which presumably few people would write these days; maybe someone sufficiently nosflovian.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:52 PM
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454

Fuck, I meant "professional language complainers", obviously. I do a poor job of joke-making while trying to prepare for committee meetings.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:54 PM
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455

If only I weren't so focused on my work.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:55 PM
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456

450: I hope so!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:55 PM
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457

Ah, letter signoffs, one of the eternal unfogged topics.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 2:56 PM
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458

However, it is by our works and not our words that we would be judged. These, we hope, will sustain us in the humble though proud station we have so long held in the name of

Your obedient servant,


Posted by: Robt. B. Thomas | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:12 PM
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459

Like I'd listen to somebody named Robot B. Thomas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:14 PM
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460

What about someone named Robot McManlyPants?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:20 PM
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461

Somewhere in the latter thread of 457 is a long, I think Johnsonian --ah yes, it is--signoff posted by kid bitzer. At the time of the thread, my then-almost-ex-wife was extracting the concession that no matter how terse our emails got to one another, we would always at least sign them. I pasted that one in there. She didn't think it was funny.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:22 PM
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The family who ran TCR were actually Vietnamese, and they took pity on him. One night they closed the restaurant and served a stellar Vietnamese meal for him and couple of friends. It was tremendous. They wouldn't accept payment! We loved them.

Aw! I find this a heartwarming story.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:45 PM
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463

460: What about someone named Freddy Mercury?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:46 PM
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464

Way late to this, but seriously, I think this is a Pittsburgh thing. Dan dan mian is sufficiently mainstream in Cali[...]

I've eaten in Chinese restaurants in NY, NJ, Miami, DC....

Cali clearly has a much fresher Chinese population than anyplace on the east coast. Chinatown aside, you don't see entire suburbs that are predominantly Chinese, as Paren described up above. So I think you see a lot more "real" Chinese food bleeding onto even American Chinese menus. Same way that you'll get better tacos at the shittiest CA non-chain than at all but the very best places in the upper Midwest.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 3:53 PM
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465

At the time of the thread, my then-almost-ex-wife was extracting the concession that no matter how terse our emails got to one another, we would always at least sign them. I pasted that one in there. She didn't think it was funny.

Aw! I find this a heartwarming story.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 4:09 PM
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350

No doubt I failed to make myself clear - it's fun because it doesn't make any sense, but might confusedly be thought to do so; the mistaken idea being something like: "for added grammatical correctness on any occasion, modify a salient substantive inside the phrase!".

E.g. "Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane - how many Davids Bowie have there been?"


Posted by: KingOfVegetables | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 5:36 PM
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Just to make the sidebar pretty again add regional comparison, growing up in MSP I experienced mediocre to poor Chinese food (not quite the horror show JRoth describes, at least outside of the suburbs, but not great), but consistently tasty Vietnamese food (much larger and more recent Vietnamese population here). Our many Vietnamese restaurants mostly followed a pattern and were somewhat Americanized especially in terms of the meats used, but also had a good variety of flavorful sauces. Then I moved to ATL and had really great Chinese food (recent immigrant population) but all the Vietnamese places were phở shops. What do you mean there are no lemongrass curries anywhere on the menu?

Since I've moved back, there are a couple of decent Chinese places in town (though one of the better ones closed last year to be replaced by a phở shop), but the real development has been the emergence of several mid to higher end Vietnamese places that bring greater sophistication to the dishes. Some of these dabble in fusion, but mostly they offer greater variety of dishes, better quality ingredients and more care in preparation.

So to Parenthetical's question about Vietnamese versus Chinese, I think it has to do with the customers for whom particular menus are developed. The Vietnamese restaurants I grew up with were no more authentic than the Chinese ones, they were just more flavorful. The phở shops that have since become common were intially target mainly at Vietnamese clients, so they were already traditional by the time non-Asians discovered them. And of course, bog standard is going to vary based on where the bog is located.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 10:08 PM
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By now I'm convinced you are all insane. But why? And how did this state of things come to be the way it is?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-18-09 11:54 PM
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469

So, Chinese characters have a half-life?


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 08-20-09 3:09 PM
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470

Never mind. It only looks like that on the archives page.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 08-20-09 3:10 PM
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