This week’s challenge word on the Illustration Friday website is “hatch”.
“Hurry up, Ma! Hurry before they hatch!”
A little background…
I was at a total loss for this challenge when it was announced early on Friday morning. My mind was blank. I had no ideas at all. That afternoon, I went to lunch with my boss and a supplier to a restaurant in Philadelphia’s famous Chinatown. This particular restaurant specializes in dim sum for lunch. The dim sum ritual is quite unusual for those unfamiliar with it. Actually, it is quite unusual for those that are familiar with it. Diners are seated at their tables and given a “scorecard”. The dining room is filled with women quickly pushing carts around the maze of tables. The carts are laden with multiple servings of various bowls and plates of exotic (and sometimes unrecognizable) tidbits of Chinese delicacies. The carts make brief stops at each table and the “driver” points to and identifies each offering in quick, broken English. If a selection is desired from that cart the “driver” plops the item down on the table and makes a notation on the table’s scorecard. To someone experiencing this for the first time, its pretty surreal.
On Friday afternoon, my two voracious and adventurous (and carnivorous) dining companions sampled fried squid and steamed buns stuffed with pork and green-and-brown-something-or-other. For me, the lone vegetarian, there was spicy eggplant, steamed vegetable dumpling and… did I mention the eggplant? I had to resort to ordering noodle and mushroom soup from the regular menu to make it look like I was actually eating.
The inspiration for my illustration came from the first item offered, almost as we were seated. A stout young Asian woman parked her cart next to our table and displayed several steamy temptations. One of the dishes caught the attention of Howard, our luncheon partner and commercial printing vendor. It was a silver serving bowl containing four browned, bony tridents that was identified as “chicken feet”. Howard nodded affirmatively and, in one motion, the woman dropped the bowl on the table and marked off our scorecard. I noted, in an aside, to Howard that the waitress said “feet – chicken feet” in case he had misunderstood which part of a chicken he had just ordered. He waved me off, not taking his gaze off of those shriveled glazed tootsies. My boss and I marveled as Howard jabbed his chopsticks into the bowl and transferred one to his small plate. He tore into its outer layer and sort of picked at the spare contents inside. After a “tastes like chicken” comment, he convinced my boss to try one. At first she seemed absolutely turned off by the idea, especially since she mentioned that it looked as though the appendage was giving her “the finger”. But, after Howard applied some schoolyard-style coaxing, she gave in. She prodded one of the feet and tasted a microscopic piece. She politely smiled and the unfinished portion remained on her plate for the rest of our meal.
Personally, I was a little uncomfortable having that thing on the table.
I half-expected the rest of the chicken to come looking for it.
Reminds me of when my wife & I met one of her friends for lunch at a chinese place near the Adelaide Market. Both of them being much more daring than I, sampled what can only be described in English as fried pig rectum.
After enduring the barbs about me being a finicky eater and having an unadventurous palate I watched them eat.
After eating a sampling and both turned up their noses, I asked them how it tasted and they replied: It tastes like pig shit.
My wife added, No matter how much they wash it and scrub it its probably always going to taste like pig shit.
Now theres a life lesson for you.
I have tried to refrain from ordering anything on a menu that includes the words:
I just don’t like coconut, the others are obvious.
Hi Josh….oh I see you went out for Dim Sum….I remember the first time I saw duck feet and chicken feet at a real authentic place …yikeeeeeeeees….the lady on our team ate the feet and we just looked at her….
great illo !!!
Howard made me do it. And it was pretty disgusting. Really, just skin and cartilage.
Thanks for being a good sport. Next time, kosher deli or Horizons.
Hi son-in-law, it amazes me that many foods considered unique today were simply financial needs when I was growing up. Chicken feet for example, were always included with the purchase of soup chicken in the 30s and 40s. They could also be purchased seperately for a few cents to add to a soup. My Mom boiled them and peeled them and added them to a sparse soup for more flavor. When the doctor came to our house to treat my brother or me his payment was a large bowl of chicken soup or delicious barley soup. (sort of the barter system) That’s enough of the “POOR TOUR” for today. MOM-IN-LAW
Hmmm…. I never realized you were Asian.
LOL! LOL! LOL! This really made my day! I grew up in New York, where you can find almost any ethnic market, you like to check out! This post reminds me of my days as a kid going to the different ones on Saturday, with my Mom! I was generally bug-eyed after the experience, every Saturday! Thanks for the reminder! I’m still chuckling! That had to be a fun lunch! lol!
LOL. love the piece
Despite my advice, my grams and hubby were having a debate as to who had poorer experiences. Hubby was telling about eating certain parts of a cow’s head. Grams topped him: During the Great Depression, she would dress out chickens and sell them for 5 cents a piece; she fed her family a daily diet of … chicken feet! She would wash them and boil them for hours before dipping them in batter and frying them. She said they tasted like cracklins’ but I would not know… yuck. Not a connoisseur of the unknown palate.
PS Stay away from chorizo…
Very funny tale…and great illustration. You could have told about your Dad…who I seem to recall was once the Egg Buyer for a major Philadelphia Supermarket chain…but I suppose his purchases did not often hatch!!