Being more than a half century old and growing up in rural Oregon, in a large family, on a modest income, my diet usually consisted of venison and potatoes. My introduction to Chinese food was “Chung King” chicken chow mien. You remember, two cans taped together with one can full of glop and the other containing crunchy worm-like crackers they called noodles. I hated it! Still do! It wasn't until I was in my late teens when I actually ate at a Chinese restaurant. I decided I didn't like Chinese food for many reasons and would only eat it when I was on a date. That really hasn't changed with the exception of one particular restaurant.
My father in-law from my first marriage was a meat and potatoes guy like myself. We would assert our supreme authority when picking a place to eat when we all went out together. No sir, the local steakhouse is where we're gonna go! Then we would whine and complain until we compromised on places that also served American food. This worked out well for many years, but the divorce changed it all.
My second wife's parents were divorced and I didn't have a chance when it came to negotiation.
There was a grand opening of a new Chinese restaurant in the largest town near us. It was rumored that it was a great place to eat. I dreaded going because I knew I was going to get sick and not even feel like I had anything to eat at all.
When we arrived I thought I had just driven to Chinatown. Almost everyone standing in line was of Asian decent. After more than an hour of being in line, we finally made our way into the inside of the building.
Behind the counter was a glass window exposing the kitchen. In the kitchen was a short Asian fella flipping food in a giant wok. He would add what appeared to be sesame oil or something causing a huge fire ball. I don't know if he was actually cooking or just putting on a show.
A very petite Chinese gal led us through the place to our table. I swear, everyone in the place besides us was Asian. We walked past a table with an Asian family that had already been served. On the oldest woman's plate was a fish of the likes I've never seen in all my years of fishin'. It was almost a foot long, four to five inches in girth, and appeared to be a bottom feeder of some sort. It had to have came from someone's aquarium. It's ribcage was exposed and the ribs had the diameter of a pencil. That just looked wrong! *shudders*. As we were seated, I had a bad feeling about this whole thing.
I perused the menu and noticed there was no American food. Crap! I did spot “Peking Ribs.” I'm thinking, a side of ribs with some Chinese sauce that I can just scape off and it'll be almost like American food. Yep, that's what I wanted! So I ordered it.
In a short while our food was delivered. There was pork chow mien, lemon chicken, shrimp in lobster sauce, fried rice, and of course, my “Peking ribs.” My plate was placed before me and I thought to myself, these don't look like ribs! They were about the size of a tablespoon. Imagine a golf ball squished down to a half inch in a hydraulic press, 'bout the same size and shape. Reluctantly, I bit into one. The first thing I noticed was it was very bony. When I got to the meat though, ahhh –mmmm, it was sooooo good! This is great! Let me try that lemon chicken stuff! --mmmMMM!!! Pork chow mien! --MMMMMM! By the time we left the restaurant, I even mastered the use of chopsticks! Yep, I love Chinese food! I decided, if you see a bunch of Asian people hanging around a Chinese restaurant, There's probably good food in there.
I frequented the place often after that. Peking ribs, lemon chicken, pork chow mien, and what ever else. Then one day I heard the FDA shut them down. It didn't last long and they were back up and running in no time. Rumor had it that there were cat carcasses found in the garbage. It was also said they were importing rat meat from China. And the other explanation was: they would serve food that had been dropped on the floor. I'd like to think it was the latter.
Anyway, after they re-opened, I looked at the menu and saw that Peking ribs were no longer listed. I protested loudly, “What happened to the Peking ribs?” the petite little Chinese waitress said, “you wan Peking ribs? No probrem! I bring you Peking ribs –Order uff Peking ribs –chop chop!.”
After that I wondered why it was no longer on the menu. Then I started to wonder what kind of meat it actually was. It tasted almost like pork, the sauce is delicious, but there is something different about this meat.
My third wife (the one I like to call my all-time real wife) loves the food from this place, too. I stopped there the other day and picked up an order to go of hers and my favorite food. She loves their shrimp chow mien with “six dollah” extra shrimp. I love those Peking ribs and pork chow mien (I hope it's not really rat chow mien but I digress). I started to really analyze the meat. Since when do ribs have knuckles? I nibbled this bony meat and saved all the bones. After a little reconstruction, I noticed it started to resemble the x ray of my third metacarpal when I broke my hand.
When I finished that project, I now know what happens to the hands of the Chinese dissidents.
I would disclose the name of this place, but I love those Peking hands too much. Sorry!
Welcome to Skippin' Rocks
I originally Started a blog to run off at the mind on politics, hopefully witty and humorous ramblings, and just random thoughts. But, I'll make a new one for that and stick to short stories here. I hope you liked what you've read so far.