Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Meg, honey, call me. We’ll go get Chinese.

O k, so I’m reading my UU world and I run across a sentence in Meg Barnhouse's column Good Fortunes that really disturbs me.

“Some people pick their favorite Chinese restaurants by the Bourbon Chicken. In my family, we do it by the fortune cookies”

Ok, this sentiment is all kinds of crazy. We’re a little serious about restaurants here at the Chaliceblog. You don’t choose a restaurant by its lagniappe. For goodness sakes, pick your Chinese place by the food. Or whether it’s convenient to your house. Or the condition of the ladies’ room. But by the fortune cookies? Please. That’s just sorry.

Also, Bourbon chicken? In a Chinese restaurant.


I never even saw Bourbon chicken until I lived in Louisiana. I thought it was strictly a cajun thing. I called in two southern culture consultants with Louisiana backgrounds and they were with me on that one. Bourbon Chicken is way a cajun thing and if a Chiense restaurant is serving it, that restaurant has no interest whatsoever in authenticity and has totally given itself over to southern-fried chinese cooking. One of my southern culture consultants crystallized my thinking in the simple words “If she’s eating bourbon chicken at a Chinese restaurant, she’s going to a Chinese restaurant that's pretty damn crappy.”

So I read the rest of the article, which is essentially about Meg writing her own Rob-Brezney-esque fortunes, a task that obviates picking a restaurant based on fortune cookies, I might point out.

So now, she can pick chinese restaurants with actual good food.

What makes me even sadder is that Meg has totally missed out. A bit of judicious Googling revealed that she is minister of the UU church in Spartanburg. Which means that she lives like an hour and a half from Columbia, SC where one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve ever been to, The Orient, used to be. It was run by a small lady named Louise from Taiwan. If she liked you, the thing to do was go in, refuse the menu and say “Hey, Louise, make me dinner.”

When you let Louise cook you whatever she felt like cooking, the food that resulted was worth spurning ANY fortune cookie for. Sad to say, this place closed a few months ago. I spend every Christmas in the Columbia/Charlotte area and I have no clue what I’m doing Christmas Eve as I’ve had Christmas Eve dinner at the Orient for three straight years.

Anyway, Meg, if you’re reading this, totally call me next time you’re in the vicinity of my hometown of northern charm and southern efficiency. We’ll go get Chinese someplace with octopus on the menu and ducks hanging from the ceiling.

It’ll be yummy, I totally swear.



LinguistFriend said...

Meg is absolutely, uproariously delightful, so you will have a good time. Besides, she has a new book out. Louise in Columbia, a true culinary arttiste, came from Taiwan, by the way. She planned to go back there for a while after closing.

Chalicechick said...

Made the correction, thanks!


Anonymous said...

Living near San Francisco, we've had some really good Chinese food. And some not so good.
We go to Chowhound dinners and let the Chinese members of the group order. We went to one really really authentic Chinese lunch with the Chowhound group, and I found the food more interesting than delicious.
My favorite restaurant of all is Chinese/California.
by the way, check out Chowhound at Chowhound.com

Anonymous said...

"We went to one really really authentic Chinese lunch with the Chowhound group, and I found the food more interesting than delicious."

At least the places like that tend to be pretty affordable. My favorite authentic Chinese in NYC is dim sum at Jing Fong, where a friend and I once filled up for $14. Total, not each. You just have to be OK with sometimes accidentally getting the chicken feet because you can't distinguish what it is, and the staff's English isn't sufficient to communicate it to you.

Anonymous said...

Usually that's true. unfortunately, the one i mentioned was $40 each for lunch.

PeaceBang said...

I can recommend a really good fried chicken place in Charlotte! I mean, I can if I re-listen to the latest podcast of The Splendid Table!

TheCSO said...

PB - Price's Chicken Coop, which apparently has a website now.

Anonymous said...

CC, I liked reading your blog, and would love to go eat Chinese with you. You're right, I've been going to totally crappy Chinese places! If you know one that's worth an hour's drive, I will get there. It sounds like the company would be lively.
Meg Barnhouse