You could say that growing up my family was obsessed with Chinese Food. Not any run of the mill Chinese would do. We had a thirst for the “authentic”. I feel confident that a good portion of my childhood was spent driving in a car looking for a parking space in Chinatown. It was all because my Dad had discovered a restaurant called Sam Wo’s on Mott Street when he was in college. We all loved that place. My brother and I would ask to go there whenever we were in the city or within a 20 mile radius. My Dad dragged us to a lot of college basketball games at the LIU Brooklyn campus. I would always go hoping we’d get him to stop at Sam Wo’s before we went home. A trip to LIU could also mean a visit to Juniors across the street but it was a chance you had to take. Our devotion to Sam Wo’s achieved the ultimate validation when Woody Allen included a reference to “the crabs at Sam Wo’s” in a list of “Things That Make Life Worth Living” in his movie Manhattan.
I saved a couple of things from my weekend recycling binge. One was a notebook that had this in it:
Chinese Restaurant DreamI’m in a large Chinese restaurant with my parents We walk through endless red rooms There are pagoda lanterns with beads hanging down Like women’s hair As we pass the kitchen, I can see cooks chopping Food that smells bad Plates of Sweet and Sour Shrimp and Chop Suey go by on large trays I’m trying to get my father’s attention, “Hey Daddy, this doesn’t look like a good place.” “You sure you want to eat here?” We arrive at the table. A curly haired woman at the next table Is making a big show Acting dumb because her menu is in tatters The red vinyl falling like flags My father leans closely into her Starts talking to her Solicitously and offers to fix her menu for her He gets a stapler from the man behind the counter And starts to fix it up Trying to impress the foolish woman I hug my mother Try to shield her from his behavior I shout at him “You can’t treat my mother like this” “You can’t do this in front of her” I hug my mother I wake up