September 11th, 2020 § 2 comments § permalink

Twenty-eight years ago, HG wrestled gently with SJ and SJ discovered a lump on HG’s neck. Visited doctor who ordered CT scan. Bad news. CT scan showed advanced throat cancer. Miracle surgery by Dr. Victor Schramm (and 10 person team). Radiation. Uncomfortable year of recuperation. With that unpleasant history, HG showed concern last week when Prince Edward Island doctor ordered a CT scan of HG’s lungs. Hmm!! Possible lung cancer? Had 50 years of Marlboros and Punch maduro leaf cigars (all inhaled) caught up with HG again? The results of CT came in yesterday. HG lungs are blemish-free and in relatively good shape for a 91 year old man (in November) with CPRD. So, there was a happy celebration dinner last night of Blum’s sweet corn (last of season) and gently sauteed halibut with a side dish of PEI yellow beans. HG began the celebration with a large dry martini. Hey, it looks like HG might stick around (hopefully) for a few more years.

Jews. Chinese Food. Welcoming China.

September 9th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, Jews are very fond of Chinese food. Some believe that affection started at the time of the great 1900’s migration of Jews to New York from Eastern Europe. The lower east side neighborhood housed the incoming Jews in tenements and Chinatown was a short walk away. Chinatown food was cheap and tasty. Jews were not disdained because of their struggles with English. The Chinese were having their own problems. When HG was growing up, every neighborhood in the boroughs had Chinese restaurants. Chow mein and chop suey (heavy on the corn starch) were featured. HG and teenage Brooklyn girlfriend would feast on chow mein after a movie date. Dinner (Won Ton Soup, Chow Mein, Almond Cookie dessert, much tea) cost 50 cents. Mimi Sheraton, the distinguished food/restaurant writer, has recalled with nostalgic pleasure the comfort of celery, onion and bean sprout chow mein during her young Brooklyn days. HG/BSK’s first date more than 57 years ago was, of course, at a Chinatown restaurant: BoBo’s. The very good restaurant (long closed) was owned and run by a beautiful Chinese actress. Recently, HG discovered another reason for the Jewish affinity for Chinese food. In Simon Schama’s magisterial book, “The Story of the Jews: 1492-1900”, the historian traces the hundreds of years presence of Jews in China (Marco Polo, in 1286, commented on Jewish traders in China). Schama writes that there was a community of 2,000 Jews (with a synagogue, Torah, etc.) in the city of Kaifeng during the 1600’s and before. These Jews adopted Chinese names (along with their Hebrew names) and worked at scores of occupations (there were some prominent Jewish military leaders). Jews (and the Torah) were sympathetic to Confucian teachings while retaining their own identity. The Ming Emperors welcomed Jews to their land. Schama writes: “In China, Jews were not subjected to violence and persecution, not demonized as God killers. Their synagogues were not invaded by conversion harangues. They were not physically segregated from non-Jews, forced to wear humiliating forms of identification on their dress. They were not forced into the most degraded and despised occupations, not stigmatized as grasping and vindictive, and portrayed neither as predatory monsters nor pathetic victims.” A Seng emperor welcomed Jews with these words: “Come to our China: honour and preserve the customs of your ancestors, stay here and hand them down through the generations.” Can the Jewish love of Chinese food be linked to the unconscious memories of Jewish life in a benevolent China? Possibly.

Reuben Rave

September 8th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG ate, with much gusto, a classic Reuben sandwich for lunch. Shockingly and surprisingly tasty. The ingredient that took it over the top was sliced corned beef. Gifted (and thoughtful) Daughter Lesley R. bought it at the Farmers Market during the recent visit by Lesley R. and husband, Massimo R., with HG/BSK on Prince Edward Island. The corned beef was the real deal, as good as the wonderful stuff HG consumed at Gitlitz, 2nd Avenue Delicatessen and Katz’s (New York heartburn shrines). To construct the Reuben, HG was forced to use supermarket rye rather than New York Jewish rye (available on line from Zabar’s). Oh, well. The other ingredients were Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. All good. Lesley R. also bought Montreal smoked meat (a northern cousin of pastrami) from the Farmers Market meat smoker. More jolly sandwiches in the future. HG is thinking about the Montreal product with cole slaw and mustard. BSK’s pickles on the side. Yum.

PEI and Covid 19

September 7th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Prince Edward Island is sane, serene, gentle, green, democratic. It is the direct opposite of violent, racist USA under the Presidency of a would be fascist dictator. Millions of Americans have been infected with Covid 19. Some 180,000 have died (so far). How has PEI dealt with Covid 19? Here are the numbers released yesterday (Sept. 2) by Dr. Heather Morrison, PEI’s chief public health officer: Since the pandemic began there have been 44 confirmed cases of Covid 19 with no hospitalizations or deaths related to the virus. All 44 have recovered and there are no new cases. HG/BSK arrived on PEI mid June and went into strictly monitored self isolation. After the isolation, HG/BSK observed almost universal mask wearing and social distancing. Yes, PEI is Canada’s smallest province but it demonstrates what can be done when the health of its population is threatened. Democracy works when it is not undermined by political expediency.

Another Perfect Meal

September 6th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

September Prince Edward Island weather continues to be sunny and moderately warm. For some reason, the sunsets and cloud formations are unusually colorful. With each passing day, the sun sets a further distance in the east. The forty feet of large windows in HG/BSK’s oceanfront home allow comfortable viewing of the natural splendors. BSK noted that it’s like having a super-colossal TV tuned to an imaginative “nature” show. Happily, the colors are at their peak during dinner. Perfect meal last night. BSK fried super fresh hake last night. BSK’s frying technique which utilizes a special non-stick Paderno pan over moderate heat, results in crisp, juicy, not greasy, fish filets. Accompanied by local mustard pickles, lemon slices and Frank’s Hot Sauce, this is a true sea treat. HG started the meal with six Malpeque oysters. And, since the season continues, buttered and salted ears of Blum’s corn were consumed with pleasure. Sliced tomato and feta cheese salad on the table. Slightly chilled red wine was drunk. Perfect.

Corn Treats

September 5th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Sure, buttered ears of fresh corn (Blum’s of Montague, Prince Edward Island, best corn in the universe), are a treat. However, there are a multitude of other ways to enjoy corn. This morning, BSK used much leftover corn for a hearty breakfast of corn pancakes with Candian maple syrup. Warm sun, clear skies, calm sea, pancakes with maple syrup. Perfect way to start another happy day at HG/BSK’s PEI oceanfront paradise. A few more weeks of corn season. HG looks forward to a cod, mussel, bacon chowder replenished with corn kernels. There’s also a Chinese soup of chopped chicken breast, corn kernels and swirled egg HG/BSK might try. And, of course, more corn on the cob and pancakes. Farewell to corn and oysters when HG/BSK return to New Mexico. For HG, there will be a consolation: Green Chile Menudo, the incomparable tripe stew available at El Parasol, the friendly eatery close to HG/BSK’s Jacona home. In HG’s opinion, this spicy wonder is better than French, Italian and Spanish tripe stews. As HG’s New Mexican neighbors might say: “Viva, el Norte !!”.

Swell September

September 3rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

September is one of the best months on Prince Edward Island. And, ushering it in, September first was a perfect day. Sunny, warm (not hot), clear blue skies, gentle breezes. Made old HG glad to be alive. HG motored to Atlantic Shellfish and picked up splendid Malpeque oysters selected by gracious Cindy Dockendorff. Before shucking, HG/BSK lounged on the deck of HG/BSK’s oceanfront paradise, admired the sea, the emerging sunset, the scenic “corn” moon. BSK sipped white wine. HG had the usual vodka and Campari on the rocks. The weather cooled as night moved in. The oysters were big, briny and lush. (Oh, HG will miss this best of sea treats when returning to landlocked New Mexico). Dinner was three ears each for HG/BSK of buttered and salted Blum’s sweet corn, the world’s best. Salad was composed of sliced tomatoes, feta cheese, pungent basil leaves (from BSK’s garden). Serenity, natural beauty, food pleasures. That’s September PEI.

Happy 50!

September 1st, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Joyous, exuberant, delicious Sunday night dinner at Noel M. and Yossi M.’s verdant Ocean Mist Farm on green democratic Prince Edward Island. Noel and Yossi (BSK’s sister and brother-in-law) were joined by HG/BSK; neighbor, Amram and wife, Marina. Amram, an Israeli, farms on PEI and is an acknowledged irrigation expert. Marina, a Russian, is a lovely woman and talented baker. Amram was home on PEI for a brief reunion with family before returning to Uzbekistan where he is part of a team working on an ambitious irrigation project in that arid land. The group raised glasses high to toast N. and Y. on their 50th wedding anniversary. All wished the couple many more years of health and happiness together. The anniversary food was fabulous. First, of course, were buttered ears of Blum’s sweet corn, a seasonal treat. And, then there was a sliced leg of lamb (the lamb was raised by Noel and Yossi smoked it into rare, crusty, juicy yumminess). This was accompanied by smoked potatoes and dilled string beans (both from Yossi’s extensive vegetable garden). There were side dishes of Greek yogurt and a peppery salsa. Dessert was a Russian cake crafted by Marina using sour cream and preserved fruit in the mix. Wine was Cabernet. Alcohol lover HG consumed vodka before dinner and Canadian whiskey after. Happy old gent. Amram’s dinner conversation about Uzbekistan made HG recall another celebration, Son Jeremy’s 45th birthday party at a Jewish Uzbekistan restaurant in the Rego Park section of Queens, the most diverse of New York’s boroughs. On that jolly night, copious amounts of vodka were drunk with enormous platters of food and bowls of pickles. N. and Y.’s 50th-anniversary dinner was a bit more restrained.

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