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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Doggy Bag: Ancient Chinese Secret?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 5:55 PM

click to enlarge Taste the inscrutability. - CHRISTOPHER CHAN/FLICKR
  • Christopher Chan/Flickr
  • Taste the inscrutability.
Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

Grant does Grant: The Bold Italic's Nicole Grant plays tourist in Chinatown, a nabe that intrigued Oscar Wilde in 1882. Grant:

These days, it's hard not to think of Chinatown as a larger version of the 30 Stockton, crowded with old, cackling women hoarding doorways and throwing elbows over greens. Still, I'm convinced the real Chinatown must still exist in the back alleys we pass by, somewhere in between Wilde's romanticism and our cynicism. I follow the pink shopping bags to find it.
One place she looks is New Woey Loy Goey.
Nine steps lead me down underground and I enter a brightly lit room with critter tanks of scuttling crabs. A group of men with crow's feet crowd around a lazy Susan. Some read the paper, and some chatter over steaming cups of tea. As dishes start to pour forth from the kitchen, I decide to order "what they're having."
Soup, a seafood plate, eggplant. Grant finds it all intriguing, delicious too. We believe her, but still: Is Chinatown really as shadowy and inscrutable and crone-cackly as all that? Isn't the writer guilty of the same romanticism Oscar Wilde expressed about what he saw as the Chinatown of opium dens and brothels? It's almost as if Grant seeksto find the real Chinatown, and stumbles instead onto a film set. Ah so!

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