Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Fieldtrip to Chinatown

Today, my new friend Sweets and I took our babies to Chinatown for a little culture and some good eats. Lately, I've been throwing Kenny into the deep end, culinarily speaking, and he is doing his mama proud. Today was no exception.

We started in New Chinatown, on the north side of Archer Avenue.

Sweets explained that that it's cleaner and cooler than Old Chinatown on the South side of Archer Ave. It's where all the cool kids hang out, you see. She moved here from Hong Kong when she was ten years old, and has close ties to the people in the St. Anne Cafe. Not the most Chinese sounding name in the world, but it's authentic for sure. We ordered ying-yang, or half coffee and half tea. I had mine cold and sweet. It was delicious. If you love caffeine, you must try ying yang. It's bitchin'. Here's Kenny scoping out the baked goods.

We continued around the plaza, checking out the Chinese Zodiac statues, comparing our personal traits to those of our signs. Though I was born in the year of the snake, I see very little in common with most of the snake's characteristics. Good with money; graceful and soft-spoken. Ha! If you know me, tell me if you think I'm snake-y and then check out your Chinese sign here.

I had to check out a shop that sells bulk herbs and dried ... stuff.

Ginseng--some of the better stuff sold for almost a thousand dollars a pound. According to Sweets, the more the root resembles a human shape, the more potent it is. The stuff in the barrels was rather pedestrian. It just looked like twigs.

Who knows what's in all these jars?

What, the recipe doesn't call for dried squid?

Here, fishy, fishy, fishy! A bin of dried anchovies:

Little delicacies like dried fruits, candied plums, yellow(!) olives, etc.:

Barrels of ginseng, bins of dried seafood, vegetables and other exotic produce, teas of the world and herbal remedies for about any ailment or condition imaginable, including the tragic affliction of having no boobs. I checked out their boob-growing cream with interest until I saw the price: $89.00 for a tube of shit I bet a million dollars won't work any better than gaining fifteen pounds. Although I'm sure Ken would have overlooked that expenditure, I think I'll pass on the boob cream for now. Still, it's nice to know where to get it if I ever decide to give it a try. *whispers* Maybe I'm snakey, after all ...

We then trekked over to Old Chinatown across the street.

It's more congested, way older but cooler looking from an architectural and design standpoint. It does, however, smell. I think the city of Chicago should check out the drainage situation.

After peering into various windows (my favorite featured a sweet-faced woman with a little hatchet slamming off pieces of a roasted pig quarter) we took the increasingly cranky babies back to St. Anne's for lunch.

Stirfried noodles, rice crepes with dried shrimps, tender beef and scallions, curried fish balls and Chinese french toast for the babies. I told Sweets I wasn't interested in fake, Americanized Chinese food, and homegirl delivered. The noodles were superthin and delicious. The crepes, drizzled in a sweet and salty sauce, were melty, slightly gelatinous and strangely delicious. The curried fish balls (spheres, not testicles) were slightly rubbery, yet not in a bad way. They were deep fried and served with a rich and sweet curry sauce. Heavenly.

Kenny and Baby K charmed all in the family-run restaurant with their cuteness. Between his major-league eating chops, friendly disposition and general cuteness and her half-Chinese delicate prettiness and generosity with the smooches, we felt right at home. My next stop in training my child to eat like me (that is to say, anything and everything at any time at all) is to hit Devon on the far North side of the city for Indian food with my friend, SZ. Stay tuned for reportage on saris, bindis and vindaloo.


insomnihack said...

it's great to see you still churning out the words :D

Nora said...

Thanks, Paul!

Patrick said...

Thanks for reading my cuz. I'm trying to keep mine current but work has been getting in the way. I'll keep checking yours out too. Keep up the good work.


theeriver said...

I'm planning a trip there July 22nd, my first day off in ever. Looking forward to is now. Thanks for wetting my whistle.

Nora said...

Have fun, River!