Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chinese Food Bolognese

When I was growing up, Sunday night was Chinese restaurant night. We kept the tradition temporarily alive last night as we headed over to Nuova Cina Ristorante (New China) a couple blocks from our apartment. It really looked strange to see “China” and “Ristorante” sharing a sign. By the way, the Cina is not a typo. To get the “ch” sound in Italian you put a C before an e or i. Adding an h gives it a K sound. So there you go, a mini-lesson in Italian pronunciation.

The restaurant looked exactly like a Chinese restaurant back in the states with shiny Chinese landscapes rendered in various colored foils. The menu confused us for awhile. Half of it was devoted to various types of ravioli and spaghetti. Since we chose this place in order to take a break from those items I have to say we were a little disappointed. Not to worry though. I spotted Sweet and Sour chicken which I haven’t eaten since probably 1965, and as I ordered it memories of Pekin House in Chicago enveloped me. I wish I could have gotten a drink with an umbrella in it, but that did not appear on the menu. (At the Pekin House my grandmother would have ordered a “Whiskey Sour but not Too Sour.”) Bill opted for Chicken with Peanuts. Boris really wanted a stir-fried noodle dish, but when we didn’t see anything like that on the menu I tried to explain to the waitress that in the United States we often ordered “lo mein” in Chinese restaurants when we wanted noodles. Well, I don’t know what reaction I was expecting. I guess I was hoping that by saying “lo mein” I would impress her with our amazing Chinese food expertize. Maybe she would give me a special wink or whip out a special menu for Those in the Know. In reality all I got was a blank stare. So we took our chances (or let Boris take his chances) and ordered Spaghetti with Vegetables and Pork for Boris. We avoided but were intriged by the Spaghetti al Riso, spaghetti with rice. Could that actually mean spaghetti and rice mixed together ? Well, when I saw various plates being brought out to other customers it dawned on me that Spaghetti al Riso were rice noodles. Aha ! The light dawned ! So, spaghetti was just an all-purpose word for noodles and ravioli was the term for dumplings ! It all made so much sense ! Boris’s spaghetti was comprised of “glass noodles” and looked pretty much like something we would order in a Chinese restaurant at home.

Our food was reassuringly slow in coming which suggested that they were actually cooking it instead of nuking it. Everything was pretty good and pretty cheap. It wasn’t especially memorable, but as my mother used to say, “Not every meal can be a gem.”


Veectoria said...

Well I have just spent a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so reading your blog from start to present. Keep it coming--you have the gift. Give Boris a big hug from me.

Stefania Impasta said...

Well, that's an hour you won't get back ! Thank you for being so thorough. It's nice to know that my Richmond/Schuyler readership is soaring.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Renata Celin, I have discovered your blog. Thoroughly enjoyable insights in the Northern Italian way of life, and your experiences. Keep entertaining us! Ciao. Anna Maria Park