This week I’m highlighting The Spot, a new burger restaurant that opened in the Blue Caribbean Plaza near campus. Their chef used to run a felafel stand on Kehua Bei Lu, which he has since left to join the restaurant. The limited menu hasn’t gotten boring (yet), as I’ve eaten their burgers three (or is it four?) times in the past week. Oh yes, the thick-cut fried potatoes are to die for. Next time I go, I must take my own bottle of French Dijon-style mustard with me. Other than that, today was rainy, and after my class I returned home for an afternoon nap. I’ve just signed my teaching contract for the next year, which includes 12 months instead of 10. That means I’ll get paid all year round, including summer, but I will be available for full-time teaching during July and August. No summer vacation this year, but it will be a great chance to save my money for future travel.
noodle restaurant Today was my birthday. It was gray, cold, and slightly damp, but I went out with my camera anyway. I figured I could shoot in black and white and maybe get some good results. I debated about where to go, not feeling very festive, and ended up at a Lanzhou noodle restaurant (the kind that are hand-pulled). I ate some good 牛肉炒面片 – sliced noodles fried with beef. I started to take a walk, but it was getting rainy, so I bought some food for me and the dog and went home. Tonight the moon is full and and an eerie orange color. Another birthday come and gone.
In Chicago, it’s all about the food. Thankfully, I’m doing a lot of walking. Now that the weather’s heating up, however, I’ll be spending more time indoors, which means….more food, dude. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve consumed: At Ann Sather (Just Good Food): The home-baked breads are a treat. The cinnamon roll was just about the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten Ann Sather’s fried catfish sandwich was a dream. There was also a salad with blue cheese dressing, and cole slaw. I was in Ann Sather heaven. Mexican combo plate – Thursday lunch Half a roasted chicken with pita and cole slaw at Chicken Hut, Belmont & Broadway – Thursday dinner. Thanks to http://www.chicagogluttons.com/ for the recommendation! My first slice of real cheesecake in over 5 years – Bourgeois Pig cafe, breakfast on Friday The Majestic Burrito at Chicago Diner, with sour cream and guacamole – Friday lunch Turkey Panini and chocolate-cheesecake brownie at Austrian Bakery – Friday dinner In case you’re thinking that all I do is eat: the Green Mill lounge in Uptown, dating from the 1920s. Still to come: I have exactly two days left in which to consume the following: a grilled reuben sandwich on rye, a deep dish pizza, Indian food, Thai food, and one final Greek gyros sandwich. Wish me luck.
Chicago el The weather in Chicago has been on the cool side, with enough of a breeze to make walking a pleasure, and to put me in the mood to contemplate the passage of more than 30 years. One of the purposes of this trip is to find out if reality matches my memories of a time and place long ago. It’s been a difficult process to remember the naive and confused young man I was in my early 20s, and to find traces of him in the middle-aged, and more cynical, person I’ve become. Another question I’m trying to answer is just how living in China has changed me. As you might expect, it’s a journey fraught with emotional baggage. On another note, it’s been an exercise in photography and food. Some highlights of my sentimental trip so far: I’m staying at the Chicago Getaway Hostel on Arlington, on the near north side near Lincoln Park. It’s quite comfy, although I’m in a dorm room with 12 people. I’m within walking distance of my old stomping grounds, near Belmont and Broadway. It’s officially called Lakeview East, although it’s also known as Boystown, since the area is the city’s gay enclave. My old apartment building, 540 West Briar Place, where I lived after graduating from college in 1978. My first apartment was on the 8th floor. If I remember correctly, if you stood on the edge of the bathtub, looked out the small bathroom
Noodles have always been my favorite comfort food. Nothing will compete, of course, with the memory of huge mounds of butter-and-olive-oil drenched spaghetti whipped up on single electric burners in grad-student basement apartments, redolent with chopped garlic, parsley, and cracked pepper. Of course, those were also my drinking days, so my memory may be clouded by equally massive quantities of Stolichnaya vodka. comfort food: fresh-mixed noodles with vegetables and sauce Now that I’m in China, Italian pasta isn’t the norm. There are endless varieties of noodles, noodle shops, and degrees of spiciness available here in Chengdu, and I indulge myself occasionally. Living in a university the size of Chuan Da (Sichuan Daxue or University) is great, especially when there’s a nearby food street in the midst of blocks of dormitories, offering cafeterias, noodle stands, Xinjiang grilled meat, and nang (naan), round flattened bread slapped against the walls of fiery-hot ovens to bake. The shops and food stalls tend to stay open until about 11 pm, or until the students aren’t hungry any more. These noodles were on the mild side of spicy, with a few vegetables thrown in, tucked into a plastic bag for easy carrying, and supplied with chopsticks. They tasted good after being tossed around in a pan with a couple of fried eggs and some olive oil, leaving me with just the right amount of bloated, satisfied afterglow. It’s not late, technically, but after after a long shift of teaching and class preparation from 2-10 pm, as