Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good Good Times

One of the things that make new york great is its ability to transport you to another place time or galaxy, often within a matter of blocks. This weekend I walked downtown with Bam Bam.

"Good Good Taste" -Don't ask for it by name. Unless you speak Mandarin.

We ended up in Chinatown surrounded by crabs being clamped with tongs and tossed alive into grocery bags (their lives are worth about 25 cents a piece). Frogs sit in buckets, big fish float upside-down barely breathing in tiny tanks, and dead ducks hang by their necks in restaurant front windows.

It's all so appetizing, we decided to have lunch.

We chose "Good Good Taste" restaurant because clearly it's double good. It also looked bargain basement and decidedly lacking in any pretense. The place was packed, but we found a table and when the waitress came over, we saw the menu was entirely in Chinese. Except for the "Good Good" there wasn't one word of English.

I requested something with "no meat." I'm not vegetarian, but I've too often risked a foreign menu choice that landed on my plate a chopped up mystery meat with blubber and bones. Our waitress didn't understand me, as she didn't speak any English. All her other customers were Chinese. The owner started yelling from the back. "Chi-nese food only." Really??

The owner then told the waitress to kick us out, I think, which only made me want to stay. I can get by without Chinese - I can point and mime. But the waitress just ignored us and disappeared into the loud room of jet-black heads. We sat there wondering what to do until a customer at a nearby table said she'd help. In broken English she asked what we wanted. "Whatever you're having" we said, because it looked rather inoffensive. She kindly ordered for us, and our food was all very good good. $8 combined (numbers we understood).

As our new friend left, she walked by our table and asked, curious, "Where are you from?" and I answered awkwardly. "Here."

She looked like she didn't believe me, but it's true. I live not more than a mile away.

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