I’m having a secret affair

After a meeting tonight on campus with my partners for the Vermont milk to maple project, I walked over to Chinatown. I went looking for a restaurant that serves chicken feet to take pictures of for the ‘gross out’ foods feature I’m shooting for.

Yesterday I shot a bacon martini at Double Down, a dive bar in LES, for the same feature. The drink was invented in Las Vegas, by DD’s owner who has another bar there, as a reaction to the cocktail culture during the late 090s. The bartender said folks do order and drink them. I suppose I’ll take that on face value. I don’t drink vodka, and you’d be hades-pressed to get me to so much as whiff a droplet of it. June was a dear and poured me a glass of seltzer instead. She helped position bottles and worked with the mirror to get a reflection off a box of slim jims. The drink is garnished with a six inch slim jim. I’d say that qualifies as gross out.

So this evening, I went searching for HSF in Chinatown and found it closed. You’re saying, why didn’t I call ahead for the hours. I did. I was given the wrong number and wound up talking to a chef at a restaurant as unrelated to HSF as they possibly come. He gave me his cell and asked me to call and tell him all about it—he’s intrigued. Intriguing must be the word of the week. Or, suppose it’s what male creative types are using again these days. Or these fellas are older and never stopped using it, and perhaps is why they are in the predicament to be using it still. Digress?

The correct number for HSF, I was finally given, came with a note—nobody English-speaking will answer the phone. It was a beautiful day and happened to be wearing the wrong shoes for walking, so I figured what the hades. No time like today to open summer blister season with a few miles casting about in lower Gotham.

Standing their looking at the menu in the window made me realize I had a craving for Peking duck. I’d eaten it last a few weeks ago in Vermont, and was overcome by synaesthetic crackling sweet crunchy oily skin and flesh, and all the accoutrements. Once this happens, I tend to be dogged until I get what I want. And I did. Around the corner on Bayard, I peeped the Peking dead ducks hanging in the windows and opted for the fourth window. Sorry folks, we’ll have to rely on pigeon navigation again to find the place. Heading south on Bowery, turn right on Bayard; on the north side of the street, the fourth storefront with Peking dead ducks hanging from the window is the place. I really just wanted to tap Peking dead duck again. I even have cold leftover Peking dead duck to enjoy for breakfast tomorrow.

Sitting there eating my Peking dead duck, I realized something. I’ve been in denial for some time about Chinese food. I love it. I admit it to you and you and you. And earlier tonight, sitting there eating my Peking dead duck, dressed for me by a friendly, subtly teasingly silly server, on four white spongy buns with hois sin sauce, carrots, celery, and green onion, I admitted it to myself. I love Chinese food.

Since going out for dim sum back in January with G and A, waiting in the freezing cold for G who was nearly an hour late, I’ve been back to Chinatown several times, navigating like a crazed chaika, to satisfy cravings. Dim sum, barbeque pork, tong shui, congee, noodles, and tonight it was the Peking dead duck. I’ve been telling folks the past few years I don’t like Chinese food, that Japanese is better, more authentic and in keeping with how they prepare their food in Japan. That the Chinese ‘sold out’ to USAmerican tastes and since I study food, it’s irrelevant to me. I was completely and utterly wrong. Well, not completely. The Number One and Best Chinese kitchens in my neighborhood are the kind of places that had me develop my little speech in the first place. But Chinatown remains Chinatown and the food there is Chinese and delicious. Mm. Does go well with the Peking dead duck.

And I’m heading down there again early tomorrow to shoot chicken feet. I wonder what craving will set me on pigeon pilot.

Until then, sihk juhk et bon nuit..

Leave a Reply