Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clay Pots and Paper Sons

Today I went to have lunch with a friend. We started with the idea of hand pulled noodles but then ended up at Yummy Noodles (48 Bowery) which despite the name is known for their clay pot rice dishes. We had a Chinese sausage with preserved duck and Minced pork with preserved cabbage. It was excellent. I have walked by this restaurant hundreds of times, I can’t believe I haven’t eaten there before, what a shame! But you know there are probably couple dozen great restaurants that I have yet to try in Chinatown. It was a better meal than I had the other night when I was with another friend; we went to Wo Hop (17 Mott St.) and had Salt and Pepper fried Squid and Fried Tofu. Sadly the squid was too chewy. I have had it there before and it was fine, so I was surprised. My friend is going to take me to a different restaurant for squid next time we go out, she says it is always good there. Since I love squid, I am looking forward to that.

Back to today--after our yummy lunch we headed over to the Museum of the Chinese in America. It is quite a step up from the previous location because it is newly designed by Maya Lin. We arrived exactly as planned, for the gallery tour. Our docent wasn’t the most experienced but he was quite enthusiastic. And quite patient with some of the questions and comments. After the tour we went back thru the exhibit again to take a closer look at things. My friend was showing me this one particular display and said that it was symbolizing the “paper sons.” This was new to me. I knew about the Chinese Exclusion Act, of course, but I didn’t know of this way of getting around the law. A fire in San Francisco created this opportunity because many birth records were lost. Our docent had touched on the interviews at Angel Island and how detailed the questions were but if he mentioned this as being one of the reasons, I didn't hear him.

Then because we both study Cantonese we were looking at some of the Chinese to English phrasebooks. The docent was nearby and seemed pleased that we were taking the time to notice these. Then I observed a simplified character and commented on it. He explained that when they simplified the Chinese characters sometimes they used older, no longer in use characters which were perhaps earlier attempts at simplification. Interesting, I wonder how true that is. That aside, the phrasebooks are quite revealing because it is all work related phrases, not something you'd see nowadays I imagine. I wish I could remember one completely but I can’t, but it was all about being able to understand or be able to give orders to do particular manual labor tasks.

Not a bad way to spend a cold day. I don't usually get to adventure too much on Saturdays, I usually have Cantonese class. But right now we are on a hiatus, so I have to take advantage while I can.

No comments:

Post a Comment